Year in Review
The Archdiocese of Vancouver was busy with many initiatives in 2014, including preparing to move its offices after many decades at 150 Robson St. Here are some of those initiatives, and a few more, from the past 12 months.
TWU AIMS FOR LAW SCHOOL
Trinity Western University released details about its proposed law school Jan. 14. President Robert Kuhn said, “There is room in this pluralistic country for an excellent legal education provided in a Christian context,” in response to condemnation from homosexual activists of the school’s community covenant.
TYPHOON HAIYAN HITS
When Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines in November 2013, Catholics generously answered the call for aid. The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace had raised more than $11 million by Jan. 17, 2014.
CATHOLIC VOICES RISE
The Canadian branch of the non-profit group Catholic Voices, coordinated by Peter Nation, was incorporated Jan. 23. The organization trains lay people to speak to the media on hot-button topics like assisted suicide, homosexuality, and clerical sexual abuse.
A Catholic professor and an Anglican minister spearheaded a new ecumenical initiative called Meet Your Relatives. An average of 100 Christians attended a series of talks about the similarities and differences between the two denominations Jan. 26, March 23, and May 4.
BISHOP DECRIES POLICY
In February, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, urged the provincial government to rethink its decision not to prosecute cases involving prostitution, since a Supreme Court decision last year struck down the laws governing the practice. “Any decision not to enforce laws that protect these victims is indefensible,” the prelate said. “Prostitution and human trafficking is the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st century.”
NEW SEMINARY OPENS
The Archdiocese initiated the Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer) seminary in Blessed Sacrament Parish in March. Father Gilbert Nunez, rector of the new seminary, said the six seminarians are members of the Neocatechumenal Way, a Church movement that embraces families and vocations. However, the six: three from Italy, and one each from Rwanda, Ivory Coast, and Costa Rica, will receive their education at the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission.
FATHER SHIER ORDAINED
Father Michael Shier has known he wanted to care for souls since he was 14. He became an Anglican minister in 1967 and converted to Catholicism with several members of his parish in 2012. He was ordained a priest at Holy Rosary Cathedral March 15.
The B.C. Catholic broke the story that some aborted and miscarried children in this province were being burned in a waste-to-power plant in Oregon April 21. In response, the Marion County Board of Commissioners held an emergency meeting and commissioner Sam Brentano announced they “will take immediate action to ensure a process is developed to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries.” Stericycle, the international waste-management company that delivered the remains and which has ties to Planned Parenthood, refused to comment.
TWO POPES, TWO SAINTS
The archdiocese held a celebration for the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. “Two Popes” brought together 10,000 people in the Pacific Coliseum. Before the end of Mass, Archbishop Miller proclaimed St. John Paul II the secondary patron of the archdiocese.
MARCH FOR LIFE
Two thousand pro-lifers sloshed through Victoria streets in pouring rain to show the government they stand for the dignity of human life May 8. More than 20,000 protesters marched in Ottawa for the same cause that day.
ST. JAMES OPENS
After 20 years of celebrating Sunday Mass in a school gymnasium, members of St. James Parish finally held a liturgy inside their own church building May 11. Archbishop Miller blessed the new church and placed relics of seven saints in the altar during the dedication ceremony Oct. 4.
Archbishop Miller released a pastoral letter on prostitution May 22. “Any law that would treat prostitution as if it were a commercial business reduces human sexuality to a mere commodity. That is morally unacceptable,” he wrote.
DEACON GOO ORDAINED
Paul Goo entered the Seminary of Christ the King one year after a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. He was ordained a deacon at Holy Rosary Cathedral May 30 and hopes to become a priest in 2015.
CATHOLIC VOICES ARRIVE
Catholic Voices founders Jack Valero and Austin Ivereigh arrived from the U.K. to lead training sessions and speak to the faithful June 6-12.
RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL MONUMENT
A monument with the names of 600 former residential school students was unveiled near the site of St. Paul’s Indian Residential School, very near St. Thomas Aquinas Regional Secondary School, June 21.
EPARCHY TURNS 40
Ukrainian Catholics flocked to Vancouver June 21 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Eparchy of New Westminster. Eparch Ken Nowakowski celebrated a Divine Liturgy and marked the 25th anniversary of his ordination.
Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese became the first school district in the province to install an early-warning system for earthquakes. The first sensor was installed near St. Joseph the Worker Elementary School June 23. About half of all schools under CISVA have sensors buried in the ground, and all are connected to a network that sounds sirens before shaking hits.
BLACK MADONNA VISITS
A replica of a sacred image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as the Black Madonna, made a trip around the world and stopped in Vancouver July 12-17. The icon’s pilgrimage was planned for the pro-life cause; it was carried past abortion clinics and displayed at Masses where prayers were said for that intention.
GENDER DYSPHORIA POLICY ISSUED
Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese released a policy outlining ways students with gender dysphoria can be accommodated July 16. The policy, the first of its kind in Canada, came in response to a human rights complaint which was subsequently dropped.
A 60-strong crowd of Muslims and Christians gathered outside the Vancouver Art Gallery to protest the persecution of Christians in Iraq July 26. They wanted to raise awareness of the damage ISIS was inflicting on the religious landscape. All Christians were being chased out of Mosul, where Christians had had a presence for 1,800 years.
DOWDING TAKES REINS
Archdiocesan vice-chancellor Barbara Dowding took the reins as national president of the Catholic Women’s League Aug. 13; she has been involved in the organization for almost 40 years.
The annual pilgrimage to the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes drew 4,000 pilgrims to Mission Aug. 16. Priests offered the sacrament of penance outdoors for over four hours. The large group of pilgrims prayed the rosary as they followed a statue of Mary carried by volunteer porters. During the procession, two altar servers took turns carefully walking backwards up the steep hill, incensing the Blessed Sacrament carried in a gold monstrance by a priest.
Archbishop Miller toured the Philippines Aug. 16-25 to see the reconstruction efforts being assisted by $1.1 million raised by the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
BISHOP DARES ISLANDERS
Catholics on Vancouver Island welcomed their new shepherd Aug. 28. Bishop Gary Gordon, installed as the 17th bishop of Victoria, immediately issued a goal for the faithful of the oldest diocese west of Toronto. He wanted to re-engage the diocese in its rich history, and told the 750 laity in attendance that in the past, missionaries had gone “beyond its shores to the peripheries of the world.”
Frater Caesarius Marple, OSB, was ordained a deacon at Westminster Abbey Aug. 31. He was born in Edmonton to a family of 10 and entered the monastery in Mission in 2007.
GREEN LIGHT FOR PAPAL STREET
The city approved a new street name in early August. “Saint John Paul II Way,” is to be the name of a road that will eventually exist outside the new St. John Paul II Pastoral Centre, off 33rd Avenue near Willow Street in Vancouver.
ABBEY TURNS 75
Benedictine monks and religious, and 1,000 of the faithful attended the 75th anniversary celebration for Westminster Abbey. Abbot John Braganza, OSB, said during Mass Sept. 14 the “apostolic life strives to keep the Church healthy from without; the monastic life keeps the Body of Christ healthy from within!” The abbey and seminary, originally established in 1939 in Ladner, later moved to Burnaby, and then to Mission in 1954.
ABUSE PREVENTION INITIATIVE
In September the archdiocese partnered with Praesidium, an abuse-risk management group, which is helping parishes implement better child-abuse prevention systems. Praesidium offers resources such as presentations, instructional videos, and online training the archdiocese can use in its “Protecting God’s Children” program.
POPE TAWADROS II VISITS
It wasn’t Pope Francis, but a pope drew a large crowd to a church in Surrey Sept. 18. Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, celebrated a three-hour liturgy in Egyptian Arabic. Vicar general Father Joseph Nguyen and ecumenical relations coordinator Marjeta Bobnar welcomed him on behalf of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
SEPULCHRE KNIGHTS INVESTED
Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, invested vicar-general Father Joseph Nguyen, Father William Ashley, and six laity into the ancient organization Oct. 9. Founded during the First Crusade, the order currently supports 43 schools, educating 19,000 students of all faiths in the Holy Land.
About 900 faithful joined Archbishop Miller for an annual banquet Oct. 28. The funds raised will benefit prisoners, migrant workers, and refugees through the Service and Justice Office of the archdiocese.
HISTORIAN TAKES CHARGE
Historian Dr. Peter Meehan moved from Ontario to take over as head of two Catholic post-secondary institutions in Vancouver Oct. 16: he is the fourth president of Corpus Christi College and the 12th principal pro tem of St. Mark’s College.
LAW SOCIETY REVOKES TWU APPROVAL
The Law Society of B.C. revoked its approval of accreditation for the TWU law school Oct. 31. This meant eventual TWU graduates would not be allow to sit for the provincial bar exam. The university is challenging similar decisions in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
BISHOP TO DEACON: CHECKMATE
Bishop Gary Gordon of Victoria channelled his inner polar bear strength Nov. 7 to emerge victorious over Deacon Paul Goo at the inaugural Man Alive arm-wrestling challenge. “Old guys go for the long and steady, and they finally get the victory,” the bishop said of his strategy.
GOVERNMENT STRIPS TWU
The provincial government followed the Law Society of B.C.’s example and stripped TWU of accreditation Dec. 11. This means that for now, plans for a faith-based law school are shelved, since the school cannot accept any applications.