I wear GILDAN “religiously”!

Crucified Women of GILDAN sweatshops

Crucified Women of GILDAN sweatshops

By Phil Little

I taught religious education in the Toronto Separate system for 26 years.  Often I noticed students wearing very fancy, artistic and expensive religious items.  Toronto is a multi-cultural city and our students came from countries with strong religious traditions. The majority were Italian, Portugese, Filipino, and Latino. The girls had ear rings and necklaces with religious icons of Mary: Fatima or Lourdes, or some other favorite saint. Even the boys wore religious symbols; the Latino boys would wear a rosary around their necks either for religious or gang identification. Of course the standard crucifix was common and usually in shiny gold.


As a member of the Retired Teacher´s of Ontario, I was surprised to learn that there are so many of us on Vancouver Island that we constitute a separate unit of R.T.O. I became involved as the mid-island Political Advocacy representative.  I wrote this short article which was published in the spring edition of our local newsletter. It would seem that when retired teachers gather much of the discussion is about the latest cruise or vacation to a distant tourist mecca, so this was my attempt to join the discussion.

Sharing tortillas at the prison in solidarity with Chabelo

The United Church community of Chemainus is without a pastor for a few months, as their minister has accepted a new position elsewhere. I was invited to give the sermon at the Sunday service conducted by lay members of the congregation. They wanted me to speak of my trip to Honduras. The gospel reading for the day was the story of the two disciples walking to the village of Emmaus, despondent at all that had occurred in Jerusalem and the death of their prophet Jesus.  This was my attempt to connect the reading with an incident of my trip, using these photos as illustrations in a powerpoint presentation.

Why does the church want to ban eulogies?

Why does the church want to ban eulogies?

ARCHBISHOP PRENDERGAST TO LEAD VISITATION OF ARCHDIOCESE OF TUAM, IRELANDArchbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa has recently decreed a ban on eulogies during funeral rites conducted inside the church.  Trying to explain this edict, the archbishop is reported to have said that the purpose of the funeral is “not to praise the deceased, but to pray for them.”

The Otuzco Nuns

Imagine a spiritually nourished parish without a priest but rather two nuns! Such a reality exists in the village of Ventanillas de Otuzco near the city of Cajamarca in Peru where two members of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception from New Brunswick now live and work.

Rita Coumont and Muriel Buckley

Rita Coumont and Muriel Buckley

The village is known for its necropolis of carved niches in the mountain side which predate the arrival of the Spaniards by hundreds of years or more.

The Ventanillas or "Windows" -  ancient tombs in Otuzco

The Ventanillas or “Windows” – ancient tombs in Otuzco

Eulalia and the Children

My daughter Naomi phoned me in May and said “Daddy, take me to Peru!”  I had been a part of the Oblate missions during the 1970’s, an experience that profoundly marked my persona. We agreed to a 5 week travel agenda, including some typical “tourist” spots and some visiting of friends with whom I still had contact.  I mentioned to Fr. Nicanor Sarmiento OMI that I would be traveling to Peru and he insisted that I visit his hometown of Lares, a 4

Bethlehem comes to Vancouver Island for Christmas 2012

Most Christmas seasons we sing the carols from memory and enjoy the simple tunes which make them so easy to sing along without paying a lot of attention to the words. One favorite is “O Little town of Bethlehem”:

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

The song almost puts one to sleep, it evokes those warm fuzzies of tranquility and peace – but while it speaks about the town of Bethlehem of old, the current reality is anything but peaceful and hopeful.