Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ToT West: Unwrapping the Truth About Human Trafficking

by Alycia Rodrigues
St. Mary's Parish, Brampton, ON

At our most recent Theology on Tap West, we learned a great deal about the reality of human trafficking... the blinders came off and, consequently, many who were in attendance at the event were inspired to help better inform the public about this important issue, particularly at the upcoming Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in Toronto this summer through an initiative called GIFT Box. We were among those inspired to help and don't doubt that some of you will be, too.

Human trafficking is to be deceived or taken against your will, bought or sold and transported into exploitation; forced labour or sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced marriage, forced begging, or forced removal of organs. It is a growing problem around the world and, contrary to popular belief, that includes right here in Canada... in the GTA.

GIFT Box is an interfaith initiative, it is a walk-in piece of public art that looks like a large wrapped gift that is covered in the types of promises that are used to deceive victims of human trafficking. Inside, visitors are offered the opportunity to learn about the realities behind these promises that lure people into trafficking situations. The GIFT Box will be located at the corner of King and Church in downtown Toronto during the Games, on the grounds of St. James Anglican Cathedral.

Volunteers are needed to be at the box every day during the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. Led by a team captain, volunteers will talk to people who visit the box and answer questions, and hand out materials. Volunteers are required to attend ONE 3-hour training session which will equip them to handle common questions and to direct people to additional resources. Training sessions will be held at the Mary Ward Centre (70 St. Mary Street, Toronto) on June 18th from 1-4 p.m., on June 21st from 1-4 p.m., and on June 23rd from 6-9 p.m. Additionally, volunteers are asked to cover a minimum of 8 hours (which can be completed all at once or spread out over a few days).

We hope that you will consider offering some of your time, but if you can't, your prayers for the victims, traffickers, and activists are plenty! For more information and/or to register as a volunteer, please visit www.faithalliance.ca

Thanks to Faith Connections and the OCY for bringing this important cause to our attention. Together, we can #UnWrapTheTruth about human trafficking.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Theology on Tap East: Euthanasia in the Shadow of the Supreme Court Decision

St. Bartholomew Parish, Scarborough, ON

The Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision earlier this year to legalize euthanasia as a constitutional right set the stage for yet another successful edition of Theology on Tap East on Thursday, May 21st.

Journalist Charles Lewis met with an enthusiastic group of young adults at The Bear Pub in Pickering to discuss the issues that we now face in light of this decision and what we can do as Catholics, Christians, and as a caring society to make a difference.

Guest speaker Charles Lewis
As the former religion reporter at the National Post, Charles Lewis is a familiar name to many Canadians as a veteran journalist with several years of experience under his belt. Now retired from the industry, Lewis dedicates his time and efforts to spreading the word on the issues surrounding Canada’s changing views on euthanasia. Lewis explained that the Canada we have come to know and respect, for its unwavering belief in protecting human lives and its vulnerable, is about to drastically change and sadly, it’s not for the better.

Doctors across the country will soon be able to lawfully end human lives via what is now being referred to as ‘physician assisted death’ or ‘death with dignity’, which bodes the question, what will happen when their primary mission to care for our sick is thus diminished?

Lewis dove right into answering this question in his talk, providing statistics from across the globe in support of his argument.  He began by explaining that the legalization of euthanasia in Canada is not a Catholic issue, but rather a global one. Though we are solid in our faith, it goes beyond what we believe. It’s a question of humanity.

He continues on to express that deep down we all know that there is something very wrong with accepting euthanasia, but we allow it to occur out of fearfear of the unknown and fear to take a stand and speak out. The past has proven that when we, as an organized group of people, try to preach against death, we are seen as interfering. Attitude and fear is what is killing us, explains Lewis. We worry more about how we are going to be viewed rather than the real issue at hand.

As Canadian Catholics, more than 12 million strong as of 2013, and with even more extensive numbers when we combine with Christians as a whole, we should be able to make a difference and have a voice. We, as North Americans, have all the freedom in the world, yet our timidity holds us back. We are afraid to express our faith despite not being threatened for our beliefs.

Lewis, who is unwell himself and on medication to control his pain, has not given up hope and chooses to find the blessings even in the dark days by laying it all at the foot of the cross. It’s time we do the same.

Instead of supporting euthanasia, which can be presumed if we choose to do nothing says Lewis, we need to invest in better hospice care, as well as to find ways to better aid in pain management.

Here are a few other things that we can do to make a difference:

•       Talk to your priest about it.
•       Pray, pray and pray some more.  Then, tell others to pray about it too.
•       Write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other MPs – vote the not-withstanding clause. This will give us some time to develop an opposition.

As the future leaders of our Church, we need to take action now. Let our voices be heard.

For photos from this event, click here.
For information about future events, please visit our website at ocytoronto.org.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ToT West: Discerning & Living Out Your Vocation

by Ann Gallano
Merciful Reedemer Parish, Mississauga, ON

Our Vocations Panel: Michael & Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt,
Fr. Chris Lemieux, Sr. Teresa Joseph, and Enza Lamberti.

“We all want to serve Christ” is the common ground for all the vocations. This statement was discussed by Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt on behalf of the special guests representing the different vocations who each shared their discernment and vocation stories during the Theology on Tap West on Monday, April 13th. The special guests were Vanessa and Michael Nicholas-Schmidt who talked about their marriage, Fr. Chris Lemieux who discussed priesthood, Sr. Teresa Joseph who shared about being a religious sister, and Enza Lamberti, who explained her vocation as a consecrated virgin. 

Vanessa and Michael stated that one of the greatest blessings of their marriage was the grace of the sacraments, especially as they prepared for their marriage. Discernment for them was like taking one step at a time and they felt peace. They described discernment as taking more and more steps closer to God and you arrive at where you are called to be.

Fr. Chris shared how he loves hearing vocation stories and recognizing authentic signs about other's desires to serve Christ. For him, the most important things in discerning are sacramental life, prayer, and most of all having the heart to serve.

Sr. Teresa emphasized the ultimate significance of having a relationship with God in any vocation. She added that this can be developed through prayer, time spent at the Blessed Sacrament, and living a sacramental life. She also said that “Whatever gives you peace, you take that step. Otherwise, you are forever discerning.”

Enza briefly explained about the vocation of being a consecrated single and she pointed out that everyone is called to live a consecrated life whatever your vocation is. She described how raising her niece, Desiree, has reflected her own growth towards the faith and helped her uncover who God is calling her to be.

There are obstacles on discernment and living out your vocations. Sr. Teresa stated that even if you say “yes”, it doesn’t stop there. The evil one will keep tempting you. You can’t have everything you want but in the end “it is not about me, but about God”, according to Michael. How would you know where God is leading you to? The answer is different for each person. Fr. Chris said it best when he says: “Trust God – If God calls you there, you’ll be there.”

For more photos from this event, go here.
For information on future events, visit our website at ocytoronto.org