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Aug 24
From the Vineyard: A Few Thoughts

Below is a recent post by Father Chris Lemieux, Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Toronto. His blog can be regularly found at

I have entered my fourth year "In the Vineyard" so-to-speak; in a dedicated way as Director of Vocations.  A priest should always find himself in the vineyard in every way, encouraging and supporting men and women to dedicated service in the Church of Christ.  Today, I want to begin to offer a few thoughts on this blessed ministry which I am grateful that I have been called to by the Lord.

These really have been four amazing years.  As a relatively new priest (I celebrated my fifth anniversary of ordination in May), I was blessed to spend 1 1/2 years in a beautiful and vibrant community and was then reassigned to the Office of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Toronto in January 2014.  I have worked with many who have heard the Lord's call and find myself collaborating with many to find new and better ways to help those who are open to discerning find their way, too.  One of the most helpful directives I received from Cardinal Collins upon my appointment was his desire that I always put "people before programs," which I have tried my best to honour.  The investment of time offered for anyone discerning is well worth it!

The Church is blessed with many very solid, loving, faith-filled men and women discerning religious vocations amid the challenges that we face as a Church and as Christians in the world today.  There are many devout disciples of Christ who are willing and ready to make sacrifices for a life that is filled with meaning and purpose, such as they are hopeful to find when they contact my office or speak to their priest or minister who will then speak to me. The challenge I find the vocations team faces in the Archdiocese of Toronto is finding the right place for all people to find their way to dedicated service as priests; religious sisters and brothers in the Church.

Every vocation director has their priorities, and these are mine.  I share them, because these are what I see as the most important things we do as Christians to discern ourselves but help others discern, too. From these will flow the next few reflections:

  1. Personal Accompaniment: It really is not the Christian way for us to "go it alone" in our vocational discernment.  Although silence in prayer often is the place where the Lord speaks to us most clearly and profoundly, a vocation to priesthood or religious life is one which requires direction and companionship. This is the primary work and ministry for a vocation director and it certainly comprises most of my own dedicated time.
  2. Development of our Catholic Culture:  Even as dedicated Catholic people, we do not live in a culture that often welcomes, embraces or supports religious vocations.  It's not that we are hostile to these kinds of dedicated lives, but we tend not to understand them.  We need to get the word out and help everyone, not just those discerning to see the relevance of religious vocations today and help one another to a greater understanding of what a religious vocation is and why they are essential for us all.
  3. Development of our Culture of Prayer: Even as dedicated Catholic people, we sometimes have a superficial understanding of prayer and why it's important. Prayer is not to change the mind of God, especially praying for vocations.  Prayer often is most important because it helps to change our social conscience and awareness of what's important to us.  In families for example, when we pray for an increase in all vocations, children are more apt to speak with parents and family members about religious vocations. If families consider these kinds of vocations just as important as the vocation of holy, healthy marriages, these kinds of thoughts and considerations become the part of a young person's formation in life and may lead to considering religious life.
  4. Leading by Example.  As I present myself before the Lord, I am very aware of my own weaknesses and sins, my shortcomings and challenges in life that make me less than everything I would wish to be.  I am grateful for my gifts but well aware of my many faults.  However, the greatest asset I have as a vocation director is my own sense of joy in the priesthood.  I try to share this with the men discerning and the seminarians with whom I mainly work.  I also try my best to point out the other priests and religious who share and radiate this quality of joy.  It's the most attractive thing.  Joyful witnesses beget more joyful witnesses of the Gospel.  Negativity, melancholy and pessimism in priesthood and religious life don't attract others to a commitment to live for a life that doesn't seem appealing.

I hope you will enjoy the reflections and I hope that my Blog Reflections continue to offer some food for thought.  May God bless you!

Jun 29
Catholic Charismatic Renewal Celebrates Golden Jubilee

​Earlier this month, those involved with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal from around the world gathered in Rome with Pope Francis to celebrate the organization's 50th anniversary. Below, Catholic Charismatic Renewal Council of Toronto (CCRC) Chairperson, Mary Cruz Guzman, shares about the movement and its work in the Archdiocese of Toronto. With contributions from Fr. Ben St. Croix, CCRC's Liasion to the Cardinal.

1.      What is the Catholic Charismatic Renewal?

The Charismatic renewal is essentially a rediscovery among ordinary Catholics of the event of Pentecost in the early Church. On that day, the apostles and many lay people were caught up in an experience that changed their lives in powerful ways and gave them a new courage to share their faith far and wide, even in the face of great opposition. Many that have attended prayer groups and gone through Life in the Spirit Seminars (120+ million worldwide) have given testimony to experiencing similar things, for instance a deeper experience of God in prayer and deeper desire to pray as well. Many find the scriptures come alive in a new way. They begin to love God and serve Him with greater devotion. There are countless blessings besides the prayer groups themselves that have come from this awakening of Pentecost which Pope Francis is calling "a current of grace" for our time, including many of the movements in the Church.

Prompted by the Holy Spirit and faithful to the teachings of Catholic Church in harmony with the local pastoral programs, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Council (CCRC) facilitates, educates and promotes activities and resources that foster the growth and development of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal throughout the GTA. 

2.     Tell us about the work and events of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Council (CCRC) of Toronto

CCRC is committed to support English and ethnic prayer groups and prayer communities in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Through our events, our objective is to ensure we live under the Lordship of Jesus by building unity, promoting charity, deepening spirituality and fostering evangelization and formation.

This includes Life in the Spirit Seminars for parishes and other institutions, formation retreats, workshops and seminars, evangelization, workshops, monthly Adoration and fostering adult, youth and children's ministries. 

Our two major annual evangelization events are "Christ the King Rally" and the "Cradle of Hope."

CCRC members pray in St. Michael's Cathedral

Members of CCRC pray at St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica

3.     What exactly is being celebrated this summer with the Golden Jubilee conference? 

We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in our Church. On February 17, 1967, 25 students from the University of Duquesne, in Pittsburgh, were at a retreat where they experienced an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

CCRC Toronto is joining in the worldwide celebrations to commemorate of this powerful movement of the Holy Spirit, spreading as wildfire throughout the Catholic Church. 

4.     How has the charismatic movement made a difference in your own life or of people who you know?

Through Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal awakens our Baptismal promises, bringing the experience of living in the Spirit and perpetual Pentecost.

This experience results in a deepened prayer life, a deeper relationship with Christ, a thirst for the word of God, renewed devotion and active participation in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. It creates in us a desire to work in our own personal conversion and sanctification. 

5.     Pope Francis has spoken of the Charismatic Renewal as a "current of grace" for the whole Church. How do you see that this movement can be of help to the Church going forward from here?

This "current of grace" is for everyone. It is a call to action to share the Gospel with others. The Charismatic Renewal brings restoration and transformation and invites us to live our identity as children of God while experiencing daily renewal and answering our call to discipleship.

Jun 01
Encountering Christ in the Holy Land

Melodie Gabriel is a Development Officer for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), whose board of directors includes Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins. Below, she describes CNEWA's collaboration with The Catholic Women's League of Canada to support Holy Land Christians, an initiative called "Velma's Dream."

On May 31, we celebrated the Feast of the Visitation from the Gospel of Luke (1: 39-56). A pregnant Mary visits her relative Elizabeth, who was also with child. Mary's greeting prompts John the Baptist to leap for joy in his mother's womb and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. Then Mary praises the Lord with her inspired Magnificat. All of them are filled with immense joy in Christ's presence. In short, I see the Visitation as a joyful encounter with Christ.

Velma Harasen, a former national president of The Catholic Women's League of Canada (CWL), made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2010. While there, she met the local Christians and learned of their struggles. Through their stories, she too encountered Christ and she longed to bring these struggling Christians hope and joy. She came back to Canada compelled to help and started a special CWL initiative called Velma's Dream

Velma Harasen

Velma Harasen of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada visits the Infant Welfare Centre, one of the CNEWA projects supported by the CWL.

As part of my job with Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), I work with the CWL to spread the word about Velma's Dream. I also help raise awareness to the plight of Holy Land Christians and all Christians of the Middle East.

The goal of Velma's Dream is to help Christians remain in the Holy Land and strengthen their presence. Over the years, many have had to flee for economic and political reasons such as unemployment, poverty and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Christians now make up less than 2% of the population and though they want to stay, they cannot survive without our support. Christianity began in the Holy Land and it is important that we help our brothers and sisters there, so as to not lose the roots of our faith.

CNEWA has organized Holy Land pilgrimages for CWL members to visit these Christians and to show them our support. During our pilgrimages, I've witnessed these women encounter Christ, not only by visiting and praying in the places where Jesus walked, but also in meeting the local Christians and hearing their struggles. We also take time to visit local CNEWA projects, including ones supported by the CWL, which aim to help the poor and the marginalized of the area.

On our trips we visit the Church of the Visitation, which commemorates the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth. 

Fr Chris Cauchi celebrates Mass at Church of Visitation

Our chaplain, Fr. Chris Cauchi of the Archdiocese of Toronto presiding at Mass at the Church of the Visitation.

I’ve come to admire the work of the CWL, as they put forward a strong and united Catholic voice on important issues affecting our world today. Also, CWL members do many good works in their parishes, their local communities, and abroad.  

CNEWA 2016 pilgrimage group

From CNEWA’s 2016 Holy Land Pilgrimage with Catholic Women’s League members. Current CWL national president Margaret Ann Jacobs, from the Archdiocese of Toronto, is front centre.

It's been a blessing for CNEWA to partner with the CWL, and share a common goal to serve the Christians of the Holy Land. CNEWA is Pope Francis' special agency, supporting the Eastern churches in their service to people in need throughout the Middle East and in other regions overseas.

To learn more about CNEWA and Velma's Dream, please visit Our next CWL pilgrimage with CNEWA is set for July 2018 and you can visit our webpage for more information. The Catholic Women's League of Canada website is

CNEWA 2015 pilgrimage group

From CNEWA's 2015 Holy Land Pilgrimage with CWL members

May 15
Family Spotlight: The Douglas Family

Patrick and Carissa are the proud parents of eleven children, ages 14, 13, 12, 10, 8, 7, 4, 3, 2, 2, and 1, with five more in Heaven. Patrick works as the Director of Human Resources and Operations at Newman Centre Catholic Mission at the University of Toronto. Carissa is the author and illustrator of a Catholic children's book series, The Little Douglings. She is a homeschooling mom, Catholic speaker and blogger. The Douglas family are parishioners at Immaculate Conception Church in Sutton, Ontario.

The Douglas Family

1. What does a typical day look like in the Douglas family?

Carissa: Patrick breaks out his inner superhero and with the help of his side-kick older kids, making sure everyone is up, dressed and ready for morning prayers and breakfast. He heads off to work and passes the torch to the form of a kiss and sometimes a coffee. The kids spend the morning doing schoolwork, usually finishing by lunch or shortly thereafter. We pray the Angelus, have lunch, and the five kids under five nap. Then, a lot of playing, reading and LEGOing ensues. Once chores are done, some days are crowned with attending daily Mass, and/or praying the rosary, ending with night prayers and age-appropriate group bedtimes. We allow for LOTS of parent down time in the evening, as well as a date night as often as we can.

2. What is the greatest joy and greatest challenge of raising a large family?

Carissa: We are surrounded by love, smothered by it - we wake up with love invading every last inch of our bed, even laying across our heads. 

And during the day, if we're struggling in one moment with one of our children, we need only turn our heads and find we're met with a big, sloppy toddler smile, or a little one anxiously awaiting some snuggle time. 

That's also one of the greatest challenges... it wakes you up a little too often, especially when you really would prefer to sleep. 

Patrick: The challenges of a large family reside in its very nature: it calls you to die to yourselves daily, thrive in the mundane and to trust that God can help you rise to meet the many demands heroically and selflessly. It challenges you to trust in an almost supernatural way.

3. Why is it worth it?

Carissa: We're very aware that what we're doing (although seemingly insane) is a gift. It's a gift to ourselves, as each child helps to challenge, stretch, humble and refine us. God works very specifically through each of our children and I know, as much as I still need to grow, I would be a much more self-focused, stubborn comfort-seeker if it weren't for this vocation.

Patrick: It's also a gift to the world, as the children raised in large families have to learn to think of others from an early age. Large families naturally foster patience, selflessness and responsibility, as together we work to meet the needs of the smallest family members and contribute to the care of our home. You learn very quickly that, although you are loved beyond measure, the world doesn't revolve around you. 

4. How do you afford it?

Carissa: It's mostly a lesson in prioritizing. We discern need verses want and find that we're able to save a lot when we detach ourselves from the spirit of materialism. We share, we pass down clothing and toys, none of our children have hand-held electronic devices. 

Aside from swimming lessons, we don't have them enrolled in extra-curricular sports and activities, but that works out just fine as we seem to have enough members to form a few teams of in our own backyard. 

Patrick: We've also learned that God is ready to sustain us when we offer Him our yes. Almost as soon as we have a need, we're often overwhelmed by God's prompt, faithful provision. 

5. This year's theme for the National Week of Life and Family is "Love Grows by Giving." How does that play out in your family?

Carissa: For husband and wife: love abounds with mutual self-giving. It's that self-sacrificial love that gives completely, without holding back, and then that love does indeed grow in a very tangible way...until it's about to burst out nine months later! That has played out almost annually in our home.

Patrick: As far as the family goes: The blessing of large families is that they naturally foster a spirit of generosity. It's not always easy, but growth is often uncomfortable and challenging.

6. What does your family do to witness the joy of the Gospel outside of your home? What is your involvement in your parish or the broader community?

Carissa: We know that parenting, while a blessing, is also challenging, so we try to offer support to other families in any way we can. Patrick runs a dad's group for local families seeking to raise faith-filled kids, and I've authored a series of Catholic children's books that share ways we can foster a relationship with Christ, and offer an example of what it is to be an authentically Catholic, contemporary family.

Patrick: Our children are witnesses, in that they are joyful and very empathetic in nature. They enjoy visiting nursing homes and spending time with the elderly, who seem to crave the presence of children. 

Angelica (8 years old): I love singing to them. One man calls me Miss Hollywood!

7. What do you do to encourage your children to make faith and a relationship with Jesus a priority in their lives as kids?

Carissa: Children are highly influenced by mom and dad. So, I've learned that if I want my children to have a relationship with Christ, then I have to work harder on my own relationship with Him. I need to pray wholeheartedly, I need to make Christ the center and highest priority in my life if I can even hope to have them do the same. 

Also, I teach them to talk to Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I tell them to talk to Him as though He were their closest friend, and eventually, I've found that that's exactly what He becomes.

Patrick: We make use of the many gifts of our Catholic faith. We introduce them to the various saints, and they often find a special, personal saint that really speaks to them. We make use of holy water, icons, crucifixes and beautiful images that are given prominence in our home. We read stories and watch shows that have Christian themes. We really enjoy the discussions we have with the children afterwards. 

8. What is your advice for other families looking to incorporate faith into family life?

Patrick: If you can somehow work daily Mass into your lives, we can assure you of the many graces that will come from the effort. Even one extra Mass a week has made a big difference in our lives. 

Carissa: I would say, do everything you can to ensure that there isn't a separation between your faith life and everyday life. Your Catholic faith should flow seamlessly into all aspects of your life, it should direct your path and become the most important factor in any decision you make. Your children will notice if there is a big difference between Sunday Mom and Dad verses the person you are throughout the rest of the week, so let your faith be steadfast and integrity be one of your defining attributes. 

Also, play with your kids, have game nights, laugh a lot, have dance parties, lip sync battles, let your children see that your faith, which is the driving force of your life, has not made you dull, or dreary, but alive and joyful.

After all, He came that we would have life, and have it to the fullest!

May 14-21 is the National Week for Life and the Family. The 2017 theme is "Love Grows by Giving." For more information, visit the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

May 10
You&Me Exhibit Stirs Hearts at Brampton School

The following post was contributed by David Patterson, Chaplaincy Leader at St. Edmund Campion Secondary Scool in Brampton.

"We make hundreds of choices every day. Some are insignificant; others can impact our lives forever."

During Catholic Education Week 2017, St. Edmund Campion Secondary School in Brampton teamed up with the Sisters of Life and the Re:Generation Missionaries to bring the You&Me exhibit to Canada for the first time. The multimedia exhibit draws you into an encounter with six people facing challenging situations who discover the freedom and joy that comes from a love that is willing to sacrifice for the good of another.

Part of the You&Me exhibit at St. Edmund Campion Secondary School.

The You&Me exhibit has been presented to thousands of people at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., at the largest English-speaking site at World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain, at the SEEK Conference in Nashville, TN, and at a number of college campuses across the U.S.

Throughout the day, St. Edmund Campion senior students were able to explore the multimedia exhibit. They concluded their journey at the school chapel, where Eucharistic Adoration was held throughout the day. 

Part of the You&Me exhibit at St. Edmund Campion Secondary School.

The testimonials from students spoke to the power of their personal experience of the exhibit and to their encounter with God:

"It's really amazing to see how God works in people's lives, and it gives me hope He can work in mine."

"If that is what love is, I hope I experience it one day."

"It was really powerful. It made me so grateful for what my parents have done for me."

"It brought tears to my eyes."

"This was eye-opening."

"Honestly, I'm speechless."

"It's amazing to see how God works."

This exhibit invited students to truly experience the power of hope and to discover the truth that Love never fails.

Apr 25
Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel

April 26 marks the feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel – a day of great significance to Catholics from a number of parishes and backgrounds in our local family of faith.

Devotion to the Blessed Mother under this name can be traced to 15th century Italy. In 1467, an icon miraculously appeared at a church dedicated to the Mother of Good Counsel about 50 kilometers southeast of Rome, in Genazzano. Townspeople heard a beautiful melody and saw a cloud descend on the church. When the cloud dissipated, an image of Our Lady holding Jesus in her arms remained on a wall of the church. In the months that followed, 171 miracles were reported.

The fresco is 40 by 45 centimeters and is on a layer of porcelain about as thin as an egg shell. It is believed to have miraculously been transported there from a church in Scutari, Albania. An icon of Mary and Jesus that had been venerated there for centuries disappeared around the same time as the miraculous apparition of the same icon in Italy. The delicate image has survived several earthquakes and a World War II bombing.

Our Lady of Good Counsel original fresco from the church at Genazzano c. 1356
Public domain photo, via
Wikimedia Commons

Over time, devotion to the image gained formal recognition from Rome. Several popes have made pilgrimages to the church and dedicated their service to the Mother of Good Counsel over the past 400 years. The Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel was established by Pope Benedict XIV. Pope Leo XIII added the title "Mother of Good Counsel" to the Litany of Loreto.

In the Archdiocese of Toronto, Our Lady of Good Counsel holds prominence as patroness to the Augustinians, the Augustinian Sisters of Good Counsel, the Catholic Women's League and Our Lady of Good Counsel Caribbean Parish.

The Canadian St. Joseph's Province of Augustinians operate under the Midwest Augustinians Province of our Mother of Good Counsel. Augustinian brothers and priests serve in the archdiocese at the Marylake Shrine and Sacred Heart Parish, both located in King City. Marylake's beautiful 1,000-acre property is the site of a retreat centre and an outdoor rosary walk.

The Augustinian Sisters of Good Counsel are a religious order based in Mexico. Five sisters of this order serve the Marylake religious house in King City, where local Augustinians live and pray.

The Catholic Women's League of Canada adopted Our Lady of Good Counsel as its patroness in 1923. The league has had a long history of service in our archdiocese, with 98 councils and over 7,400 members. Recently, we have been very grateful for their work in promoting human dignity as they've advocated against the legalization of euthanasia in Canada and fought for conscience rights for doctors. Their prayers for life issues, vocations and much more provide spiritual sustenance to our archdiocese. The CWL is also well known for its hospitality in parishes and its promotion of the spiritual development of women.  

Recently featured in the Catholic Register, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish (867 College St., Toronto) provides a spiritual home to the Caribbean Catholic community in Toronto. The parish brings together elements of Caribbean culture, such as upbeat music and Caribbean refreshments after Mass to create a "home away from home."

On this feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, we ask for her intercession:

Mary, Our Lady of Good Counsel: filled with the Holy Spirit, you were a faithful disciple of Jesus, your son.

Intercede with your son for us that we may be faithful to our baptism, fervent in prayer, and generous in the service we give to our sisters and brothers.

May the spirit of the living God, who graced you with the gift of counsel, lead us in the way of truth and love.

With the help of your prayers, may we come to rejoice forever with you and the great company of saints in the kingdom of heaven. Amen

Prayer from


Marlena Loughheed is a Communications Coordinator in the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office of Public Relations and Communications.

Apr 20
What is Catholic Christian Outreach?

Benjamin Turland is a full-time missionary with Catholic Christian Outreach at Ryerson University. Below he shares about the important work of spreading the Gospel on university campuses.

1)      What is Catholic Christian Outreach and what is your mission?

Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) is a university student movement dedicated to evangelization. We challenge students to live in the fullness of the Catholic faith with a strong emphasis on becoming leaders in the renewal of the world. We reach out on university campuses to those that don't know Jesus or don't know Him well enough. We proclaim the Gospel to them, equip them with skills to share their faith and send them out to their city, parish, home and workplace to reach out to others with this message. CCO is a non-profit organization and has 100 full-time missionaries. We serve on campuses across the country from BC to Newfoundland. 

2)     How long have you been in Toronto and where do you serve?

CCO missionaries have been in Toronto for four years. We currently serve at Ryerson University.

Ryerson Catholics outreach table

Ryerson Catholics and CCO run outreach tables to invite students into faith studies at the beginning of each semester.

3)     Why are university campuses a good place to spread the Gospel?

University is when young people are making decisions that shape the course of their lives.  university campuses contain our future leaders: mothers, fathers, doctors, nurses, politicians, teachers, journalists…. 

4)     How have you seen CCO's work impact students on campus at Ryerson?

Our work at Ryerson includes outreach and small group faith studies. In four years, we have seen the club grow to 200 students. We are constantly seeing lives changed. But more than numbers, we care about the individual encounter of faith and reaching one person at a time. One student said "I felt alone. I didn't feel like I belonged. I was lost in my faith and I didn't even know it. I first came to the [Ryerson Catholic Student Centre] house and was encouraged by a CCO missionary to join a faith study and I said I would try it out. At first, I was hesitant to join, but I just felt like it would be a nice thing to try out. It was during that faith study that I put Jesus Christ at the center of my life. That lead me to a place of peace and knowing I am loved. I finally found the love that I was looking for." This is the impact we constantly see.

Ryerson Catholics gather for Christmas party

Ryerson Catholic Campus Ministry and CCO operate out of the Ryerson Catholic Student Centre, located next to St. Michael's Cathedral.

5)      How does CCO work in partnership with existing campus ministries in Toronto?

We work in partnership with Ryerson Catholic Campus Ministry. Together we make a team of five (three CCO missionaries and two Ryerson Catholic staff). We have seen this collaboration bear amazing fruit and are grateful for what we can offer students together.

CCO staff with Ryerson Catholics staff

Ryerson Catholic Campus Ministry staff (far left and far right) and CCO staff (centre).

CCO also has partnered with the Newman Center at University of Toronto through our CCO Connect program, which is designed to help grow our efforts on campuses where CCO doesn't have an official presence.  CCO staff provide remote training and mentorship to two students who use CCO's methods and materials within their campus ministry.

CCO materials are also used at York University, U of T Scarborough and various parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto. 

Want to learn more about CCO? Come to their Toronto "Founders' Dinner" on Wednesday, April 26 at the Columbus Event Center in North York. For more information and tickets, visit  

Apr 12
Celebrating A Love That Cannot Wait

​The following reflection on the significance of the Easter Vigil is written by Fr. Michael McGourty, Pastor of St. Peter's Parish, Toronto.

For Christians, the celebration of Easter is the high point of our year of faith. We celebrate that because of Christ's resurrection, we shall not die. We are all invited to spend eternity with our loving God in Heaven. Easter is the greatest celebration of God's unconditional and undying love for each of us; a love so strong that death cannot destroy it.

The good news of Christ's resurrection and destruction of death is so overwhelmingly joyful that it sometimes overshadows another aspect of Christ's victory. Christ's resurrection does not just announce God's desire to be with us in Heaven; it also proclaims His passion to love and live with us today. The Father raised Jesus up so all people at all times and in all places could live in communion with Him and the other persons of the Holy Trinity. Easter celebrates the fact that God will not let anything stand in the way of His love for us. All that is required from us is to open our hearts to His presence.

The Easter Vigil is made up of four essential parts:

1)      The Liturgy of Light

The Easter Vigil begins with the blessing of the Easter Fire and the Paschal Candle and the singing of the Exultet, the great hymn of our Easter victory. As the Easter Candle is lit, we celebrate that Christ has destroyed the darkness of sin and death and become the light of the world. By sending the Holy Spirit to the Church as tongues of fire, the Father illumines the hearts of the baptized. We enter the Church following the Paschal Candle, which represents Christ, just as God once led His people through the desert out of slavery in Egypt with a pillar of fire. The candles that are held by the baptized testify to the gift of the Holy Spirit that we all received in baptism and to the fact that God wishes to dwell within us today and lead each of us by His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ as the light by which we are to guide our pilgrim journey to Heaven, testifying to the world through our Christian witness. The Paschal Candle used at the Easter Vigil is also used at baptismal and funeral liturgies to proclaim the love of our God who wishes to be with us always.

2)      The Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word at the Easter Vigil recalls the history of salvation. While this part of the Vigil may be shortened, when the seven Old Testament readings are proclaimed, an account is given of the extent to which God will go to love and relate to all of us. Everything God has done to reveal Himself in the Old Testament has been a preparation for that final victory over all that divides us, which we celebrate at the Easter Vigil. The emphasis that is placed on God's Word reminds us how important it is that we pray and study the Scriptures in order to know God and understand how to relate to Him today. The Word is proclaimed at the Vigil and at each Mass because Jesus does not want to wait to speak to us only when we get to Heaven. He desires to speak to us today in His Word and invites us to come to Mass every Sunday to hear it proclaimed in His community, which is the Church.

3)      The Liturgy of Baptism:

At the Easter Vigil, the Church welcomes adults through the sacrament of baptism. All who are baptized share in the death and resurrection of Christ; they are freed from original sin and receive the grace of the Holy Spirit so that they may live in communion with God now and for all eternity.

The renewal of our baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil and all of the Easter Masses is a powerful reminder that we are already living in relationship with God. Every time we cross ourselves "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," we recall the words with which we were baptized and established in a relationship of grace with the Blessed Trinity. The Holy Water at the entrance of every church reminds us it is by Baptism that we were brought into the Church and called into relationship with God.

4)      The Liturgy of the Eucharist

Nothing speaks more powerfully of God's desire to begin to spend eternity with us today than the gift of Christ's Body and Blood which He gives us at every Mass. Every Sunday, Christ invites us to celebrate His resurrection and to receive His Body and Blood so that He might share His life with us today.

God loves us now and forever. He invites us to be in relationship with Him now, to give Him a place in our lives now and to open our hearts to the transforming power of His grace now. Because He does not wait to share His love, we are invited to accept His invitation to be with Him for all eternity – not when we get to Heaven, but now. Easter is a celebration of God's offer of salvation and an invitation to respond to this offer. As the Easter Vigil shows us, we can do this by: 1) allowing His Holy Spirit to be the light by which we are guided on our pilgrim journey to heaven; 2) listening to His Word and being guided by the Scriptures; 3) living our baptismal faith in relation to God and our brothers and sisters in Christ; and 4) opening our hearts to Christ's presence in our lives today by remembering Him every Sunday at the Eucharist where He gives us His Body and Blood so that we may love others as He has loved us.

May God bless all of us this Easter with an awareness of His love today so that we might spend all eternity with Him, starting right now.

Happy Easter!

Apr 05
What is the Chrism Mass?

​On Tuesday, April 11 at 11 a.m., the archdiocesan Chrism Mass will take place at St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica (65 Bond St., Toronto). All are welcome. This is an annual Mass to bless the oil of catechumens, the oil of the infirm and holy chrism, which will be used in the administration of the sacraments throughout the archdiocese for the year. Learn more below (click on graphic to enlarge).

Here are some photos from past Chrism Masses in the Archdiocese of Toronto:

chrism procession

The Chrism Mass is a clebration of our family of faith, bringing together clergy from across the Archdiocese. 

chrism oil blessing

Blessing of the holy oils

For more photos, check out these Facebook albums:

Mar 20
ShareLife is 'Living the Gospel' in 2017 Campaign

ShareLife is more than a charitable appeal. It's how Catholics in our archdiocese can live out the Gospel by bringing the hands of Christ to those in need.

Each year, thousands of people turn for help to ShareLife's network of over 40 agencies. One such agency is Silent Voice, which is the focus of ShareLife's 2017 Parish Campaign video. In this inspiring new video, you'll learn how Silent Voice is helping the Deaf community overcome barriers every day.

For more details about this year's $13.1 million parish appeal, visit the ShareLife website.

ShareLife 2017 campaign video
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