Monthly Archives: December 2015

Pastor Says With Pride: ‘Welcome To St. Patrick’s’

Father Gerard Power, O. Carm., holds images of the Syrian refugee family to be welcomed by his parish. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

Father Gerard Power, O. Carm., holds images of the Syrian refugee family to be welcomed by his parish. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich

St. Patrick parish, Niagara Falls, likely will be the first in St. Catharines diocese to take in Syrian refugees

The pastor, Father Gerard Power, a Carmelite priest, is ebullient when sharing the news during an interview Monday, December 14 in his parish office. A smile lights his face. Dimples dent his cheeks. His eyes sparkle with joy.

The parish's fund-raising campaign js topped $62,000.

The parish’s fund-raising campaign has topped $62,000.

The parish has had a phenomenal fund-raising campaign. It recently reached $62,000, more than enough to sponsor a Syrian family. That’s why St. Patrick parish is sponsoring two Syrian families.

The first is expected to arrive in January, Father Power said. It is a family of three: Ayman Krait, the husband, a sound technician; wife Souzi, a lawyer; and their four-year-old daughter Stephanie. The second is a family of four, also in Lebanon for more than a year. Both families are Roman Catholic.

Ayman, Souzi and Stephanie fled Syria in 2014. They lived in a suburb of Damascus but their home was destroyed in fierce fighting during that country’s civil war. They stayed with friends in Damascus for a time, then left for Lebanon where they have been living in a refugee camp for 16 months. It has not been easy, said Father Power.

He positioned three sheets of paper bearing images of the young family close to a crucifix on a wall behind his desk. One arm of the crucified Christ figure is reaching out with a dove in its hand. It is called the Gift of Peace crucifix.

“We’ll place them here, near this cross, because God knows they’ve been living on a cross,” said Father Power, turning solemn.

The family is living with nightmares from what they have been through, he said. Stephanie may have post-traumatic stress because of what she experienced. And life in Lebanon has its own stresses because the Syrian refugees are not wanted and violence, especially against women, appears commonplace, he said.

A kitchen cupboard with glassware, bowls other items gets a look of approval from the proud pastor.

A kitchen cupboard with glassware, bowls other items gets a look of approval from the proud pastor.

Father Power began the fundraising at his parish in October. He’d listened to Pope Francis talk about the humanitarian crisis unfolding as huge numbers of refugees took flight for Europe. He said the Pope was calling on parishes to reach out and take in families if they were able. And parishioners were coming to Father Power, saying something needed to be done through their church.

After 27 days, the fundraising had reached $27,000. Then a parishioner, unnamed for the purpose of this interview, approached Father Power and said he would contribute a matching donation. That boosted the campaign to $54,000 at the time. Since then it has climbed to $62,000.

Some people or families were able to give $1,000, many gave $100. And one parishioner who came to mind – a woman with a disability – came in and said she wanted to help the refugees and asked, “Can I have an envelope?” and put in $5, said Father Power. That’s how the contributions have ranged.

“I’ve never had to talk about the ‘m’ word (money)” in a homily, Father Power said. A campaign thermometer was posted in the parish and bulletin updates were provided on a weekly basis. He attributes the success to a “very generous” parish, one “very much attuned to the suffering of these people for no fault of their own.”

Volunteers were praised for leadership and commitment. A refugee committee of 22 people was formed and through meticulous planning, everything that could be needed to help people begin their new lives was planned for, Father Power said. “They couldn’t have done more had they been looking after their own families in time of need.”

When opportunity arose to secure a nearby home at a decent, affordable rental price, Father Power did so after consulting with Margaret Jong of the diocesan committee. It is on Maple Street, directly across from St. Patrick School and the church. It is now sparkling and spotless thanks to work of parish volunteers and fully furnished thanks to donated items collected over several weeks. It will be home for the second family because it is a family of four. The children will attend the school across the street from their home. As of Monday (December 14), Father Power was in the process of finding apartment accommodation for Ayman, Souzi and Stephanie.

Parishioners were also generous when it came to donating furniture, household items and other necessities, Father Power says. Surplus will be donated to other parishes that could be in need for their own refugee assistance plans.

Parishioners were also generous when it came to donating furniture, household items and other necessities, Father Power says. Surplus will be donated to other parishes that could be in need for their own refugee assistance plans.

Thirteen parishes in the diocese (one of them St. Kevin in Welland) are making plans to welcome Syrian refugee families.

December Warmth ‘Historic’: Paola

Graphic by Rob Paola

Graphic by Rob Paola

Christmas weather outlook for Welland and Niagara region

By Rob Paola

Those planning on trying out those new skates or skis Christmas morning are going to be disappointed as the unseasonably warm weather of December 2015 continues right through the Christmas holidays.


Rob Paola

December 2015 is on pace to be Southern Ontario’s warmest December on record, including in Welland where a monthly average near +5C would easily surpass the current warmest December of 2006 at +2.9C. Welland weather records go back to 1872, so the warmth this December can be described as historic, with nothing like it in over 140 years of record keeping.  Incredibly , Welland has yet to see any snow this December as well. If that holds through Dec 31st, it will mark the first time on record that no snow has fallen in December in Welland. There are indications Welland could see some snow from a system early next week, but it will likely change to rain as warmer air moves in.

In the meantime, the good news is that travel plans over the holidays this year will not be marred by any snowstorms or icy road conditions. Record mild temperatures in the mid teens today and early Thursday will drop slightly for Christmas Day, but still well above normal for this time of year (Average hi now +1C, average low -6C)  A storm system threatens rain for Boxing Day afternoon and night.

Weather details for the next few days…

DSC_2466 (2)

Temp at 12:30pm today, Wednesday, December 23. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

Wed Dec 23rd.. Mainly and unseasonably mild. Record high near 16C (Record high for Dec 23rd in Welland is 13.3C in 1957)

Tonight.. Exceptionally mild with temperatures near 14C all night. Turning windy with a few showers likely overnight, and possible even the chance of a rare December thunderstorm!

Thu Dec 24th: Early showers giving way to partly sunny skies. Windy and turning cooler. Record high temperature of 16C in the morning dropping to 10C by late afternoon. (Record high for Dec 24th is 14.4C in 1964)

Christmas Eve… A few clouds. Low +2C.

Fri Dec 25th:   Mild with a mix of sun and cloud. High: +7C

Sat Dec 26th:  Rain likely by afternoon into the night. High +9C.

Whatever the weather.. have a safe and happy holiday!

( Editor’s note: “Welland boy” Rob Paola is a meteorologist with Environment Canada currently working at the Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba as a supervisor and severe weather meteorologist.)

SNAPSHOT: A Gift Of Trees

DSC_0183 (2)

Two decorated trees caught travelers by surprise on a Merritt Island trail. (File photo/Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND – Looking back, this may have been the best Christmas gift of 2014. For sure, it was the most unexpected!

We came upon these two Christmas trees Saturday, December 20 while walking a trail on Merritt Island. My walking partner was Ron Lemon, we were out for a hike taking advantage of fine winter weather to enjoy the outdoors.

And there they were, off to the side a ways, when they caught our eye. Without any kind of sign to let passersby know anything about them. Nothing to explain whys and wherefores. Nothing to give a clue about who decorated them for the benefit of others. Just two trees, standing on their own, decorated in the spirit of the season.

I don’t know if it dawned on me then, but now I realize that this offering, indeed, was the true spirit of giving. A simple gesture, a simple pleasure, an anonymous gifting to brighten the day of strangers, of walkers, who happened to pass by on that trail. How thoughtful, how considerate was that!

Now a year later, there’s a poignancy to this that has a way of uplifting the spirit. I don’t think we’ll ever know who was behind the tree decorating on Merritt Island, nor should we. It remains a random act of kindness, for that is what it was, with a specially-enduring relevancy to a traveler on that route.

(Snapshot is a recurring feature on the blog.)

City Shorts: Try ’em On For Size!


DSC_2850 (2)

CITY SHORTS ART: Still time to buy Soup’s On! tickets as Christmas stocking stuffers. Tickets are being sold from the parish office at St. Kevin Church Wednesday, December 23, during regular business hours and on Christmas Eve 9am to 1pm. Jessica Soul, pictured, is secretary of the committee. Soup’s On! is being held Friday, January 29, 2016 in the parish hall. Ticket sales resume after Christmas (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

Compilation by Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

city shorts

City Shorts

City Shorts is a compilation, from various sources (government websites, news announcements, press releases, church bulletins, advertisements, community service information and events, bulletin boards, requests, telephone requests, web postings, email requests etc.) of short items (in most cases) about matters of local interest in Welland.

Want to submit an item for consideration? Please send to:

A bloody good idea!

WELLAND – A blood donor clinic is scheduled for Thursday, December 24 at the Welland Community Wellness Complex.

It’s from 9am to 1pm.

“To a hospital patient there is no better gift,” says an ad on the city’s Civic Corner page, by the Canadian Blood Service.

The name of the campaign is: Wrap It Up in Red.

 Holiday schedules for city services

WELLAND – Want info about the city’s holiday hours? It’s right here at your fingertips:



For further detail regarding the Welland Community Wellness Complex Holiday Hours, please click here

Midnight Mass from the cathedral

CATHARINES – A long running seasonal tradition continues again this year.

Midnight Mass from the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Catharines, will be broadcast by Newstalk 610 CKTB, St. Catharines, Christmas Eve.

It will be the 83rd annual live broadcast.

Coverage begins with Christmas music by the Cathedral choir directed by Lucas Chorosinski, at 11:30 p.m. followed by Midnight Mass.

City’s 15th annual Childrens New Year’s Eve Bash

WELLAND – Come and enjoy FREE family fun and entertainment on New Year’s Eve. Two locations, twice the fun!

The celebration is at Welland Community Wellness Complex and the Welland Main Arena from 4pm to 6pm. Join in outside, along the canal bank, for a thrilling fireworks display at 5:50pm. More info, 905-735-1700 ext 4000

 Alumni association seeks registrants for new website


Notre Dame

WELLAND – Notre Dame College School Alumni Association is inviting all alumni to register on its new website in order to re-establish the association’s contact list.

Once logged in and registered you will be able to peruse over 65 years of Notre Dame yearbooks online.

Please register at

 Library starts registration for winter programs

WELLAND – Winter programs at Welland Public Library will begin the week of January 11. Registration for these programs began Saturday, December 12.

There are programs for infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers and school-age children.

Check the library’s Event Calendar for more details.

Writers Gathering returns January 24

writersWELLAND – The Writers Gathering at Welland Public Library is a group of creative individuals who wish to openly share ideas, discuss work in progress, and ultimately, have fun! This group is open to everyone aged 14 and up.

This program will return on Sunday, January 24 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm. No registration is required.

Hoof it with the Welland mayor

WELLAND – Put your best foot forward with Welland Mayor Frank Campion.

Join the mayor’s Monday walk on Merritt Island, commencing Monday, January 11, 2016.

Meet at the island’s parking lot at 7:30am for a 40-minute walk.

Christmas, New Year’s holiday hours

WELLAND – Welland Public Library Board and staff wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. No items are due on days the library is closed.

You can renew your items or place holds here any time.

Library hours over Christmas and New Years are as follows for both of our locations:

Thursday, December 24 9 am to 12:30 pm CLOSED
Friday, December 25 CLOSED CLOSED
Saturday, December 26 CLOSED CLOSED
Sunday, December 27 CLOSED CLOSED
Monday, December 28 9 am to 9 pm 3:30 pm to 8 pm
Tuesday, December 29 9 am to 9 pm 3:30 pm to 8 pm
Wednesday, December 30  9 am to 9 pm 3:30 pm to 8 pm
Thursday, December 31 9 am to 12:30 pm CLOSED
Friday, January 1 CLOSED CLOSED

Regular library hours resume at both locations January 2, 2016.

 (City Shorts is a recurring feature on the blog.  Send submissions to:

Upcoming: Meetings In Welland

RSS Logo
 Weekly Meetings



Jan.6 ’16
4:30 PM – Water/Wastewater Committee Meeting
Council Ante Room.
Jan.6 ’16
4:30 PM – Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council Meeting
LOCATION: Welland Community Wellness Complex, 145 Lincoln Street.


RSS Logo
 City of Welland Jobs
Jan.8 ’16
4:00 PM – Volunteer Firefighter
The Volunteer Orientation session will be held on Saturday, November 28, 2015, at the 18 Rose Avenue Fire Hall starting at 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Completed applications, must be submitted no later than 4:00 p.m., Friday, January 8, 2016

Brrrr! It Was Indeed C-C-Cold!

chambers snow job

Chippawa Park pond

WELLAND – Weather forecaster Rob Paola provided this comment about today’s Chambers’ Corner feature:

“Love the photo and story! A frigid -18C (-1F) in Welland that morning after a 24 cm snowfall (almost 10 inches).”

The “morning” referred to was Wednesday,  January 10, 1962  when photog Bob Chambers took the photo.


Rob Paola

Welland boy Paola, who lives in Winnipeg and works at Environment Canada’s Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Center, still keeps tabs on Welland/Niagara weather and maintains an authoritative archive on our Welland and area weather.

See his story and his Christmas week weather forecast elsewhere on the blog. The forecast will be updated mid-week.