catholicregister.org August 2-9, 2020 3
BY QUINTON AMUNDSON The Catholic Register
Constant vigilance will be required from staff and parishioners at churches across Canada to safeguard against the rising tide of vandalism inflicted upon religious statues. This rash of incidents began in late May at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Sudbury, Ont. Six of the statues depicting the Stations of the Cross had their faces or head removed. Since then, there have been a number of similar incidents. York Regional Police are investigating two statues violated outside St. Patrick's Parish in Markham, Ont., in mid-July. Days later, video surveillance caught "two young people" applying either a marker or chalk to the garments of a bronze Jesus statue outside Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Calgary. In Guelph, Ont., the Basilica of Our Lady saw damage done to a statue of Mary outside the church on July 19. These incidents fall on the heels of similar incidents across the United States in the wake of the death of George Floyd May 25 while in Minneapolis police custody, which sparked protests across North America. A number of figures with racist or colonial pasts have been targeted, including St. Junipero Serra, whose statues have been vandalized for his alleged role in colonizing Indigenous people in what is now California. Neil MacCarthy, director of public relations and communi- cations for the Archdio- cese of Toronto, said such acts "hurt everyone." "It is sad to think someone feels that they should desecrate a statue or vandalize church property. It's shameful and sad for the entire church community," said MacCarthy. Fr. Ian Duffy discovered the vandals' work at his Guelph church. "It's very unfortunate," he told the Guelph Mercury Tribune . "For starters, most of the symbols - I don't even know what they're supposed to mean. But the one I found most unfortunate and offensive was the swastika being painted onto the statue of Mary." MacCarthy said the archdiocese has discussed with parishes how to safeguard monuments from future incidents. Safety protocols include proper lighting around the statue, re-positioning the monuments into more fortified positions, investing in security cameras and encouraging parishio- ners to keep a watchful eye. Fr. John Horgan, pastor of St. Piux X Church in North Vancouver, has taken such measures since multiple acts of vandalism to its crucifix statue in 2015 - including investing in a security camera system - and has not seen major incidents. Horgan told The Catholic Register that churches should consider putting up signs that educate the public about sacred imagery. "I think in our age we have lost the meaning of sacred imagery for many people," said Horgan. "We have this iconoclasm and 'cancel culture' going on and disrespect for the property for others. Religious symbols have always had a certain sacred nature that has always been respected by people of other faiths and people of no faiths whatsoever." MacCarthy doesn't believe the incident in Markham was politically motivated, "at least from what we were able to gather." Likewise, in Guelph, Duffy doesn't believe the incident at his church was an attack on Catholicism.
BY MICHAEL SWAN The Catholic Register
While the WE Charity scandal marches on, Catholic charities that had hoped to put young volun- teers to work through the Canada Student Service Grant have been leftwondering when and if they will ever see federal funding to support volunteer programs. "Any investing in youth will have benefits," said Mary Ward Centre program director Kathy Murtha. "We were just so excited, looking forward to offering students some volunteer opportunities." The Mary Ward Centre had hoped to use a small slice of the $912 million Canada Summer Service Grant pie to create volunteer opportunities for up to 80 mostly high school kids. The young volunteers would have produced video and online content to support the centre's retreat programs, which had to suddenly shiftto online formats during the COVID-19 emergency. "We came up with a whole set of projects we wanted to do. It was going to be very useful," Murtha said. WE Charity and its myriad of connected agencies under brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger were to run the grant program on behalf of the federal government but have stepped back after becoming entwined in the political fallout surrounding relationships between WE and the upper echelons of the Liberal government, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "We were eager to participate," said Sr. Evanne Hunter of the Loretto Sisters, the religious order behind the Mary Ward Centre. "We felt (it) would benefit both students and the Mary Ward Centre." Because the program would be administered by the WE Charity, three teachers who had experi- ence working with WE, along with a younger Loretto Sister in formation, had signed up to direct and monitor the student volun- teers. Without WE, Murtha and Hunter worry that those teachers won't have the support to take on the project. "In my opinion WE would have done a great job and this lost op- portunity is a tragedy," said Hunter. "No matter who bears the blame, it's students and society that have lost out." Murtha has reservations about WE but she can't imagine the federal civil service or any other organization getting the program up and running quickly. "I have a little bit of hesitancy about WE. I feel like they've mo- nopolized a little bit of the charity field and they're a bit flashy," she said, before adding "if you wanted to get it done fast, get this thing moving offthe ground fast, they've got the structures in place and they've got a wide reach." The San Damiano Founda- tion, which runs youth projects in Madoc, Tweed and Trenton in eastern Ontario, doesn't normally apply for government funding. But foundation president Colleen Hiltz-McCallister believes her Franciscan organization could have provided important opportu- nities for young volunteers. "Faith-based organizations should not be leftout of the culture (or) forming the next generation of leaders," Hiltz-McCallister told The Catholic Register via Facebook Messenger. In Toronto, Faith Connections program director Sabrina Chiefari believes the best way to help the older youth her agency serves is to give them a job through the Canada Summer Jobs program. "I feel like that was an appropri- ate model. It allowed organizations to be able to open up spaces to take on young people into these sorts of professional roles and responsibili- ties," Chiefari said. Rewarding volunteers with a tuition subsidy blurs the line between work and volunteering, she said, but despite her philosoph- ical disagreement with the Canada Student Service Grant, Chiefari thinks Faith Connections, as part of the suite of five Fontbonne Ministries set up by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Toronto, could have provided meaningful volunteer opportunities. "There are all kinds of things we could use to design a way for volunteering," she said. "The goal of Faith Connections is to equip young adults with the tools to create community." The Hamilton Catholic Youth Organization has had a hard time getting funding under the Canada Summer Jobs program since the 2017 abortion attestation affair, and was looking forward being able to engage older youth. The CYO needs volunteers for every- thing from camp counsellors to team coaching and equipment managers. The agency serves over 25,000 youth a year. But as students begin approaching university age, and need an income to offset tuition and other post-secondary costs, they driftaway from the CYO and land jobs. "It would allow us to keep some of those a little bit longer," said director of fund development and Marydale Park operations Karen Hartnett.
Students hit hardest by WE fallout
Brothers Craig, foreground, and Marc Kielburger operate the various agencies surrounding WE Charity.
(Photo from Wikipedia)
Parish statues targeted by vandals
Vandals defaced a statue of Jesus outside Calgary's Sacred Heart Church in mid-July.
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