​​​Office of ​​​​​​​​​​​Ecumenical and           Interfaith Affairs​

Photos courtesy of Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

The Office of Ecumenical & Interfaith Affairs exists to promote the goals of the Roman Catholic Church in its pursuit of Christian unity and interfaith understanding and cooperation within the Archdiocese through prayer, dialogue and teaching and to represent the Archdiocese in ecumenical and int​​​​erfaith events.

Youth celebrate religious diversity with their faith story

For the full article please visit The Catholic Register online

Catholic participants in the Celebrating Our Diversity Now event in February included, from left, Fr. Prakash Lohale, Monica Marcelli-Chu, Leslie Gyulay, Catherine Morley and Fr. Tim MacDonald.

Here is the story Marcelli-Chu told to fellow Diversity participants at the Armenian church:

Growing up, my understanding of my Catholic faith was always family oriented. It was about attending Church on Sundays with my parents and older sister, praying together at home — especially at meals and saying the rosary — receiving the sacraments after preparation at school, and celebrating First Communion and Confirmation with extended family. 

Faith and family (and food, coming from a Polish and Italian background), simply went together. Growing into the Catholic faith as a young adult meant discovering what this faith I had grown up with meant to me. I became involved in youth, and later young adult, ministry at my parish, and started connecting with other young people on their own faith journeys. 

Attending World Youth Day in Australia in 2008, and then returning and joining a young adult lectio divina prayer group, were two particularly formative experiences for me. These experiences of encounter and prayer called me to a deeper sense of myself and a desire to learn how to listen to the voice of God and discern God’s presence in my life.

As I approached the end of my undergraduate years, I discovered a growing desire to spend more time in prayer and service, in order to discern the next chapter of my life. While feeling confused about what I wanted to pursue, I knew that I didn’t want to simply choose a career. 

I wanted to know where God was in my life and where God was leading me. So after graduating, I found myself in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for seven months, volunteering as an English teacher at a school for young women run by the Salesian sisters. 

Overwhelmed by a completely new context and culture, challenged to find my way of connecting to the people and places around me, I soon settled into a daily rhythm that gave me a ground for my feet in the midst of so many new challenges. 

Within a daily routine of mass, teaching, meal times, grading and preparing, evening prayer, and extracurricular activities, I found myself constantly surprised by a faith both familiar and new. 

In moments of difficulty and inner struggle, I also discovered an inner freedom that found God in the midst of uncertainty. It was in this context, and in conversation with the person I would end up marrying, that I made the decision to do a Master of Divinity when I returned home. 

Six years later, I’m now in the middle of a PhD in moral theology alongside my husband who is also in theology, discovering and growing together in our vocation to marriage and to theology.

Participants at the Celebrating Our Diversity Now youth interfaith conference in Toronto, part of a multi-city project organized by the Armenian Diocese of Canada.
(Photo courtesy Armenian Diocese of Canada)
.


Interfaith Prayer Service for Justice & Peace-Feb.26, 2018

Pope Francis invited Catholics to participate in a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on February. 23. The purpose was to pray for "the tragic prolonging of conflicts in various parts of the world," particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. For this occasion, Pope did not want to limit his appeal to the Catholic faithful alone, but extended it to non-Catholics and brothers and sisters of other faiths.  

Announcing this initiative during the Angelus on 4 February,  he said: "I launch a heartfelt appeal , that we too may listen to this cry and each, according to his or her own conscience before God, can ask: "What can I do for peace?".

The Pastoral Centre of the archdiocese of Toronto responded Pope's call by celebrating half hour of prayer on February 26 from 12: 30 P.M-1: 00 P.M. it was a beautiful moment. There were around 22 people who gathered together from the different departments to prayer for peace. There were prayers recited and sung from the Upanishads –the Hindu tradition, Jewish, Muslim for world peace.

The Office of Formation and Discipleship (Social Justice Ministry) in collaboration with the Ecumenical and Interfaith Office took the initiative to organize this interfaith prayer service for justice and peace at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. 


Click here for photos of the day.


Parliament of the World's Religions - Toronto 2018
The largest international interfaith gathering in the world (10,000-15,000 people are expected to attend).

Theme: "The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation and Change."

For more information and to register, please click here.




Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Office of Ecumenical & Interfaith Affairs

The Office of Ecumenism and Interfaith Affairs was established thirty years ago by Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter on September 30, 1987. His Eminence noted on that occasion that it was the responsibility of the local church, following the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, “to implement world-wide ecumenical directives but also to take the initiative, within the unity of faith, to enrich this movement by our own forms of ecumenical action in prayer, education, the media, social work and theological exchange”.

The Commission of Ecumenism and Interfaith Affairs had already been about the task of fostering Christian unity and promoting ecumenical and interfaith dialogue since its inception in January of 1963. Among those on the Commission charged with various aspects of the ecumenical and interfaith agenda were the Reverend Robert Barringer, C.S.B., the Orthodox Churches and particularly the Greek Orthodox Church in Canada; Reverend Jonathan Robinson, C.O., the Anglican Church of Canada; Reverend Eugene D’Avella, the Protestant Churches; Reverend Brian Clough, liaison with the Jewish community.

On the occasion of the establishment of the Office of Ecumenism and Interfaith Affairs, Cardinal Carter appointed Reverend Jeremiah Kelliher, S.A. director of the office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs. The first permanent office opened at Holy Cross Parish on Cosburn Avenue, Toronto. Father Kelliher was succeeded as director by Rev. Timothy MacDonald, S.A. in 1994. At this time the office was moved to the chancery office on Church Street and then later to its present location at 1155 Yonge Street. Fr. MacDonald had been succeeded by Rev. Damian MacPherson, S.A. in 1998 and remained as director for the next nineteen years. Reverend Timothy MacDonald, S.A. assumed the directorship once again in February, 2017.

The Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission has continued its task of promoting Christian unity and fostering interfaith dialogue and cooperation for the past fifty-four years and has assisted through its many volunteers to assist the Office for Ecumenism and Interfaith Affairs throughout the past thirty years. Significant progress has taken place in our ecumenical relations with other churches not only on the national and international levels but also on the local level. The most significant progress in the past twenty years has taken place in interfaith relations where the encounter with representatives of other faith traditions has blossomed into a powerful desire for all to live in harmony and peace and to do all that we can to promote these goals in the Toronto area.


Muslim-Catholic Student/Young Adult Dialogue

The Muslim-Catholic Student Dialogue, supported by the Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and the Canadian Council of Imams, strives to foster mutual and deeper understandings of the Islamic and Catholic faiths. The dialogue supports uniting and life-giving friendships between Jewish, Catholic and Muslim students and young adults through thought-provoking dialogues on topics related to the three faiths ​and by living out these faiths through social service activities.​

For more information, please contact the Office of Ecumenical & Interfaith Affairs or join the Muslim-Catholic Student/Young Adult Dialogue group on Facebook.​​

The Muslim-Catholic Student/Young Adult Dialogue is looking for someone to champion (i.e. lead, organize and host) the dialogue. If someone from your faith group or organization is interested, please contact the office.

All Muslim, Christian or Jewish university/college students and young adults are welcome.