From June 14th – 28th, 20 religious from Washington DC participated in a popular mission at St. Augustine of Canterbury’s parish in Toronto, Canada. Fr. Jose Signorelli, IVE, pastor of St. Augustine’s, together with the SSVM’s sisters worked very hard preparing the mission, so we felt greatly welcomed.
During the two weeks almost all of the houses within the parish boundary were visited by the missionaries. The people were very happy to see the Church reaching out to them; in fact, several asked to be visited a second time by a priest. Because of the largely multicultural population in the area (there are families form 40 different nations!) in many cases the lay missionaries provided translation between the families and the religious. Besides houses, the missionaries were able to visit two catholic schools and a nursing home. During the evenings we held activities with children, youth, and the missionary sermon given by Fr. Diego Ruiz, IVE. As usual we had the “fogón” to close the evening, with a very international repertoire.
During the two weeks of mission, the parish organized several special events. On Saturday, June 20th we hosted a Family Day. The closing Mass was presided by Most Reverend John A. Boissonneau, auxiliary bishop of Toronto. Immediately after the Mass the bishop himself led a Rosary procession with the families around the neighborhood. The following Saturday we had the Youth Day at a near-by high school with youth from Toronto and neighboring cities. Besides the educational conferences and sharing a great time with the religious, many youth were able to go to confession. Finally, on Sunday, June 28th, the last day of the mission, the parish celebrated its 16th annual Ethnofest. In this joyful festival the different cultural traditions of the parishioners were represented through food and entertainment prepared by the parishioners themselves. There were representatives from almost every South American country to many African and Caribbean Catholics to a large number of Middle Easter immigrants, especially Iraqi refugees. These latter are particularly notable for their firm faith in the Lord and their supernatural joy.
Everyone in the community was very happy to have the missionaries at the parish, even for a short while.
May God continue to bless this parish with many fruits of holiness for His greater glory and for the salvation of souls.
Sem. Gonzalo Arboleda