If you're a hiker, you'll know how encouraging it is to get to the top of a hill and look back at how far you’ve walked. When your feet are sore and the path stretches forever into the future, it’s incredibly encouraging to see what you’ve accomplished.
|A real hill the author climbed in 2014.|
As we forge ahead into the unknown of 2015, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on what has taken place in the Archdiocese of Toronto in 2014. With the grace of God, we’ve navigated the hills and valleys and are happy to share a few “travel highlights” with you:
In January of 2014, Canadians were googling the phrase “polar vortex.” In the Archdiocese of Toronto, we were doing our own googling, learning more about the “Commission of Cardinals for oversight of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR).”
On January 15, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Collins to serve on this five-person commission to oversee the Vatican Bank. The purpose of the IOR is to “serve the global mission of the Catholic Church by way of protecting and growing its customers’ assets and […] help the Holy See, religious congregations and Catholic institutions in their works of charity and evangelization.”
While his primary role is to serve the people of the Archdiocese of Toronto, Cardinal Collins is also actively serving the mission of the global church on three Vatican commissions.
The polar vortex raged on but we didn’t let it stop us from forging ahead on new initiatives such as the inaugural Chesterton Debate, which took place on February 7 in Toronto. Fr. Philip Cleevely, CO (Catholic priest and philosophy professor) and atheist apologist Justin Trottier (founder of Centre for Inquiry Canada) debated the question “Is There a God?” The next debate on the topic of “Religion’s Role in Political Life” will take place on January 23, 2015.
|Inaugural Chesterton Debate, moderated by Stephen LeDrew of CP24.|
With sadness, the Archdiocese of Toronto mourned the passing of retired auxiliary Bishop Pearse Lacey on April 2 at the age of 97. He was remembered for his support of Catholic education and his instrumental role in the development of St. Stephen’s Chapel, which serves the business community in downtown Toronto.
|Bishop Pearse Lacey|
A week later, Bishop McGrattan, the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Central Pastoral Region and Vicar for Ethnic Pastoral Councils and Lay movements, was appointed as Bishop of Peterborough. After four years of dedicated service in our archdiocese, we were sad to see him go, but we know that his many gifts and talents are being put to good use in this new assignment.
An exciting event in the life of the global Church took place at the end of April. Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were canonized. Given Saint JPII’s history in our archdiocese (he visited Toronto in 1984 and 2002) and the large number of Polish Catholics in our area, the event had strong local resonance. We set up a website to highlight stories, memories and events surrounding the two new saints. One particularly interesting local story involves Robert and Matylda, who credit Saint JPII as a matchmaker.
May was host to a few other key moments in the life of the Archdiocese:
- Catholic students in Ontario received a message from the Vatican’s Secretary of State conveying Pope Francis’ greetings as they celebrated Catholic Education Week.
- Five new diocesan priests were ordained for the Archdiocese of Toronto. Please continue to pray for many more vocations to the priesthood and religious life in our archdiocese.
New priests of the Archdiocese of Toronto (L to R): Fr. Neiman D’Souza, Fr. Omar Hernandez,
Fr. Scott Birchall, Fr. Michael Simoes, Fr. Marijan Šiško
- After publicly stating that pro-life politicians would not be permitted to represent the Liberal Party in the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau received a public letter from Cardinal Collins expressing concern about this policy. Cardinal Collins urged Mr. Trudeau to reconsider his position on the matter. The Cardinal also publicly voiced his view on the topic of how Canadians can help Christians under siege in Iraq. His comments were published in the Globe and Mail in August.
When school wrapped up for the summer, the Archdiocese of Toronto was host to a renowned Steubenville youth conference in July. Over 2,000 teenagers from across Ontario and beyond descended upon Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) and were introduced to the richness of the Catholic faith through prayer, praise and reflection. We look forward to hosting the conference again in 2015. (Registration opens Thursday, January 15, 2015.)
In July and August, St. Augustine’s Seminary of Toronto continued its 100th anniversary celebrations, hosting a preaching conference and a colloquium on “Faith in the Public Square,” bringing some highly respected international Catholic leaders to our region.
|Faith in the Public Square Colloquium|
2014 proved to be the year of local Vatican appointments. In September, Dr. Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and a professor at the University of St. Michael’s College was appointed to the International Theological Commission. She is now one of 30 theologians who advise the Pope and the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. This testifies to Pope Francis’ commitment to involving laywomen in the work of the Church.
Making news around the world, the Vatican hosted a Synod of Bishops from October 5-19. The purpose was to discuss “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” An English translation of the final document of this gathering can be read here.
Finally, the fall wrapped up with an annual event that draws together community leaders and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto. The 35th Cardinal’s Dinner was a great success, with 1,600 people in attendance. Cardinal Collins’s address can be found here.
There were also some notable milestones in the Archdiocese of Toronto this year:
- All Saints Parish and Nativity of Our Lord Parish, both in Etobicoke, celebrated their 50th anniversaries.
- Holy Name Parish and St. Francis of Assisi Parish, both in Toronto, celebrated their centenaries.
- Msgr. Vincent Foy, a retired priest in the archdiocese, celebrated his 75th year of priesthood on June 3.
Thank you for being a part of the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of Toronto in 2014! Although we hope to ease into 2015, history has shown there are always surprises around the corner.
Marlena Loughheed is a communications coordinator in the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office of Public Relations and Communications.