Monday, February 22, 2010

Go out into the streets...

Not everyone who comes to Catholic Olympic Headquarters at 150 Robson St. is Catholic. In fact, since we don't ask, we have no way of knowing. But the weekend brought experiences that show just how important it is to evangelize with welcome doors.

For instance, one mother with an infant looking for a place to rest eventually took advantage of the opportunity to nurse her baby.

Another family -- mother, father, baby and grandparents -- were headed to LiveCity Vancouver but decided to postpone the hordes and stay a while at our little oasis.

Then there was the Muslim family who dropped by -- mother, father, three children and mother-in-law -- and were pleasantly surprised that the archdiocese had not only opened its doors in friendship, but also its chapel. They asked whether they could say their afternoon (Muslim) prayers.

One of the volunteers, Marie, relates what happened next: Archdiocesan staff did a quick consultation, then encouraged them to visit the chapel. They also gave the family a little catechism on what our most sacred space is about, that Christ Himself is resident there.

The father mentioned that they have a high regard for Jesus as prophet, and was surprised to hear that Fatima, the name of Mohammed's daughter, is the name of a real place in Portugal where Mary appeared to three children. Marie complimented Muslims on their faithfulness in saying their prayers. Then, just as they were leaving, she grabbed a few Olympic mascot gel pens she keeps on hand for children and handed them out.

"They were very surprised and very grateful. It was really good hearing them say, 'Thank you for the hospitality.' "

Some of the visitors who drop by wonder "what's the catch?" They're amazed to find out there is none, and on the way out the door they assure other skeptics, "They're not trying to sell you anything!"

There are also those, said Marie, who are just grateful to find a place offering its washrooms to one and all. "The look of relief on their faces is priceless!"

Sport on stage

If you're looking for some Christian entertainment during the Olympics, drop by Pacific Theatre at W. 12th and Hemlock in Vancouver. The theatre is being rented out by More Than Gold during the Olympics for the following performances:
  • Hockey Dad: A Play in 3 Periods: Feb. 17-20 & 23-27 at 7:30p.m. Featuring live music performances every night.
  • Beyond The Chariots: Rich Swingle: Feb. 24-27 at 2:30 p.m. A play on the life of Olympic runner Eric Liddel "after the games."
For ticketing and schedule information visit More Than Gold's website.

Trying on a torch for size

If the experiences of volunteers are any indication, a lot of people are appreciating the fact the Archdiocese of Vancouver is providing this oasis of sanity in a downtown area that sometimes resembles bedlam. And unexpected opportunities present themselves here.
On Saturday night, for instance, two Catholic Olympic torch runners dropped by, with their jackets and torches. CWLer Angelina Stiglich of St. Joseph's, Langley, and archdiocesan finance director Francis Wong offered anyone interested the chance to pose for a photo with an Olympic torch. Assisted by a couple of Knights of Columbus attendants, some donned the jacket, while others were content just to hold the torch, but before long a line-up of dozens of people stretched along Robson Street, all thrilled that they could not only see the torch up close, but hold and pose with it.

Shinny afternoon on Robson St.

One Fifty Robson St., or as we down here affectionately call it, Catholic Olympic Headquarters, is turning into a sort-of mini-hub of activity in the B.C. Place neighbourhood. As Maclean's magazine's Scott Feschuk noted in a previous blog, there was no better place to watch the Canada-U.S. hockey game, get free coffee and cookies, and say some prayers in the chapel. (Insert your own joke here about prayers and the final score of the game.)
At lunchtime today, a hockey game broke out in front of the building, and for nearly an hour, archdiocesan employees, family, friends and assorted rug rats went head to head in bone-crushing fury. Check Youth Ministry director Clayton Imoo's video report on the game.

Hockey heaven in Vancouver

They say hockey is Canada's religion, and that was never more true than Sunday afternoon here at the Archdiocese of Vancouver's Olympic Headquarters. The prospect of free coffee and a big screen TV was enough for many people who decided 150 Robson St. was the place to watch the Canada-U.S. hockey game. Scott Feschuk of Macleans magazine dropped in for a visit. Here's his entertaining take on the experience. By the way, Father James Hughes at St. Ann's in Abbotsford is making next Sunday's men's gold-medal hockey game a parish experience. A big-screen TV and munchies will be provided in the gym. Any other parish Olympic highlights to report?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Archdiocese helps out Haiti

The Archdiocese of Vancouver has collected more than a million dollars for Haiti earthquake relief in one of the largest archdiocesan collections on record. You'll get the full details here.

When blogging goes viral

I'm not quite sure when a blog becomes MAPS (spell it backwards), but this item must be getting perilously close. At the moment, you're reading a blog entry about a Catholic News Service blog entry about Vancouver Youth Ministry Director Clay Imoo's Olympic blog entries...and reliable sources say Imoo's planning on blogging about the CNS blog. At any rate, Imoo's doing an entertaining job of providing daily video updates from Catholic Olympic Headquarters here at 150 Robson St. (Drop in, have a coffee, user the Internet, visit the chapel, and say hi!)

Vancouver time-lapse video

This isn't really Olympic (though there is an Inukshuk in it), nor is it Catholic, but it is a lovely video of Vancouver.

A new saint for Canada and Quebec

It's official! Brother Andre will be Saint Andre later this year! The Vatican has announced that Blessed André, born Alfred Bessette, will be canonized Oct. 17. Brother Andre, shown in this video, will be Quebec's first-born saint (which I would think also makes him Canada's first-born saint, since Marguerite d'Youville, born in 1701 and the first saint born on Canadian territory, was born almost two centuries before Confederation.) Brother Andre was the founder of St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, the largest shrine dedicated to St. Joseph in the world. Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte said the canonization news was "the best thing that could have happened this year for the Church of Montreal." And with Quebec having just won Canada's first Olympic gold on Canadian soil, he compared the Brother Andre announcement to "winning gold!" (The cardinal has a nice sense of strategic marketing!) A series of religious and cultural celebration will be announced soon for Rome and Montreal.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday meets the Olympics

Erik Brady is a USA Today reporter in Vancouver for the Olympics. According to his Tweets, it seems he caught ashes at Holy Rosary Cathedral today! You can follow him here. And there are still opportunities for ashes: Meanwhile, if you're feeling a touch disoriented this week, this Tweet from another Twitter user might help to explain why: "This week! VALENTINE'S DAY LUNAR NEW YEAR MARDI GRAS ASH WEDNESDAY VANCOUVER OLYMPICS WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW whew."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Archdiocese's Olympic outreach on Salt + Light TV

B.C. Catholic contributor Alicia Ambrosio, now a host for Salt and Light TV, presents a special program on how the Archdiocese of Vancouver is reaching out to spectators and athletes during the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics. Take a look at it here.

What's in your pancake this Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Mardi Gras...the day before Ash Wednesday goes by many names depending on where you're from. The Archdiocese of St. John's, Nfld., has this backgrounder on the last day before Lent. (It's a year old, so the date of Ash Wednesday is wrong.) And for Olympic visitors, check here if you're looking for ashes tomorrow in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

Monday, February 15, 2010

U.S. Vancouver Olympians have spiritual support

If U.S. speedskaters Shani Davis and Tucker Fredricks have an edge in Vancouver, it just might be a spiritual one. Their former teammate is now a nun who's remembering them in her prayers. Twelve years ago Kirstin Holum was a rising Olympian when she competed in the Winter Olympics in Nagano. Now she's a Franciscan nun, unable to follow her colleagues' performance since she has no access to TV or Internet. Check out her fascinating story from skater to sister. . . Sister Catherine, that is, shown at right in Nagano in 1998.

Archdiocese of Vancouver welcomes Olympic visitors

Our doors are open, and the visitors are dropping in. The Archdiocese of Vancouver has opened its doors at 150 Robson St. (corner of Cambie, and right across from B.C. Place) and is greeting Catholics and non-Catholics from around the world, as well as right next door. Stop in at our Welcome Centre to say hi, sign your name on our wall-sized map of the world, pick up a copy of The B.C. Catholic's special Olympic issue, have a warm beverage, check your e-mail, and, of course, visit the chapel and say a prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Doors are open noon till 10 p.m. every day. The Welcome Centre opened Saturday and was blessed by Archbishop J. Michael Miller. You can view video of the blessing here (you'll have to indulge Office of Youth Ministry Director Clayton Imoo who provides a couple of minutes of Youth Ministry hi-jinx first.)

48 hours till Ash Wednesday

Two days till Lent starts. Click here to find church Mass times in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, as well as the rules for fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday. And if you haven't got your copy of The B.C. Catholic's special Olympic supplement, you can download it here.

Round-the-clock confessions

Guilty conscience keeping you awake? The Archdiocese of New York has the solution: 24-hour confessions! The Cathedral of Saint Patrick Young Adults (CSPYA) and 51 churches of the Archdiocese of New York are offering 24 HOURS OF CONFESSION from 7 a.m. on Friday, March 5, through 7 a.m., on on Saturday, March 6. For more info, visit, and click on the "24 Hours of Confession" hyperlink on the homepage.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Harper and Ignatieff: Who's really exploiting women?

How sad to see Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff injecting the politically charged issue of abortion into Ottawa's maternal and child health initiative.
The Harper government's plan to improve health for mothers and children in the world’s poorest countries should have been an initiative every Canadian could support. Instead, Ignatieff is trying to force his personal views on abortion onto the plan, jeopardizing an otherwise noble idea by turning it into something large numbers of Canadians will be unable to support.
Public opinion polls consistently show the majority of Canadians want some type of restrictions on abortion rather than the current unrestricted access allowed by Canadian law.
Ignatieff needs to rethink his stance on the issue. He's the one bringing abortion politics into a compassionate, life-saving program that could benefit tens of thousands of women and children a year.
David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen had an excellent piece on the topic, which amazingly was run by The Province as its feature editorial piece Feb. 8.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Harmonies of Hope

An evening of fine choral music will be performed by students from Vancouver Archdiocesan Catholic schools on Friday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at the Centennial Theatre, 2300 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver. All proceeds will go to fund relief efforts in Haiti coordinated by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. To order, call 604-984-4484 or go to

The B.C. Catholic is getting audited

We're being audited, but that's a good thing. In line with most newspapers, we're having our circulation audited -- by the Canadian Circulation Audit Bureau. Among other things, a circulation audit confirms to advertisers that a newspaper's readership is what it says it is. If you receive a questionnaire in the mail from the CCAB, your reply to it would help The B.C. Catholic immensely. (Note, the letter apparently contains a few mistakes, such as referring to us as a "magazine." Kindly exercise Christian charity and overlook these discrepancies.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Catholic Guide to the 2010 Winter Games

If you're collecting Olympic keepsakes, hang on to your copy of The B.C. Catholic this week. It's titled We believe! A Catholic Guide to the 2010 Winter Games. (A tip of the hat to all the staff and writers who contributed, in particular production co-ordinator Marie Sarabia whose first-rate design talents are put on full display.) The guide is full of useful info for every Catholic visitor, host and spectator: maps, Mass times, Ash Wednesday information, greetings from the Pope, the archbishop and others, as well as numerous stories of faith from the famous (see our chat with Trevor Linden, for instance) and not-so-famous. You'll find the guide on The B.C. Catholic website or you can download it here. The guide is also being distributed through parishes as well as our archdiocesan welcome centre here at 150 Robson St., starting Friday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

B.C. abortion censorship campaign takes off

B.C.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner now has more than 2,500 signed postcards protesting the censorship of abortion information in the province. The postcards were delivered as part of a campaign to see Section 22:1 of BC’s Information Act overturned. The section prohibits the release of any information, other than general statistics, on the topic of abortion. A blog and Facebook group have been set up to educate British Columbians on the history of Section 22:1, and why the amendment was passed.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

You might be hardcore Catholic if...

"You've accidentally genuflected at a place other than church ex. the movie theatre, school auditorium." For these and other Catholic mostly truisms, visit the You Might Be Hardcore Catholic FaceBook site.

Homilies on the go

The Catholic Educator's Resource Centre has begun carrying the Sunday homilies of Vancouver's Father John Horgan, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish. Father Horgan is on the CERC's executive board, has produced a number of series for EWTN, and is called on frequently, and with good reason, by Vancouver media when they're looking for a cleric to speak about matters of faith. You can download Father Horgan's latest Sunday homily to your MP3 player here. To access future homilies, visit the CERC's website and subscribe to their weekly update.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tebow's pro-life touchdown

A year ago, Tim Tebow was in the news for being a U.S. college football player who wore his Christianity proudly on his sleeve. A B.C. Catholic editorial gave him a huge thumbs up for doing what more of us should be doing: bringing our faith into our jobs, vocations, and pastimes. Well, Tebow's moved onward and upward in every sense. The Heisman Trophy winner is likely one step away from the 2010 NFL draft and he's now being featured in a pro-life ad scheduled to run during the Super Bowl this Sunday. The ad, by Focus on the Family, apparently relates the decision his mother made not to abort her son despite pressure by doctors to do so. So naturally Tim's in hot water with "pro-choicers" who don't like this particular choice. Give them an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for their behaviour. Meanwhile, Tebow gets the game ball.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shoes for Haiti

The Grade 5 class of Our Lady of Mercy Elementary in Burnaby is one of many groups of students and parishioners who have come up with novel ways to raise money for Haiti. Headed by teacher Chinh Nguyen, they held a Red Day where students wore red, collected money and held a shoe drive for victims of the earthquake. They raised more than $1,200 cash and collected a truckload of shoes for Soft Moc Store as part of the Soles for Souls organization, which sorts and ships the shoes to Haiti. Watch The B.C. Catholic for more details on this and other Haiti initiatives.

Monday, February 1, 2010

From Rome to Vancouver

Pope Benedict XVI couldn't be in Vancouver personally for the 2010 Winter Olympics, so he sent us the next best thing: a letter and a blessing, signed by him. (It made several rounds in our office when it arrived, and we checked!) In the letter he makes an appeal for sport being a valued building block of peace and friendship between peoples and nations. He also compliments the ecumenical sports movement More Than Gold, which the Archdiocese of Vancouver has worked closely with throughout the run-up to the Games. Finally, he offers his blessing on "all associated with the celebration of the XXI Winter Olympic Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games." So if you're celebrating, consider yourself blessed!

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