On the first International Human Fraternity Day on 4 February 2021 Pope Francis reminded us that "Fraternity means an outstretched hand. Fraternity means respect. Fraternity means listening with an open heart."1
The Archdiocese of Toronto from the inception of the office has been reaching out to people of other faiths. In fact the Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs in the past has been the mother and the hub of giving birth to many organizations involved with interreligious dialogue. The office has played the role of an ambassador for harmony, peace and bridge-building among the various different faith traditions in the Archdiocese of Toronto. "Dialogue between the followers of different religions does not take place simply for the sake of diplomacy, consideration or tolerance. ‘The goal of dialogue is to establish friendship, peace and harmony, and to share spiritual and moral values and experiences in a spirit of truth and love." Fratelli Tutti, 271/259).2
For the purpose of outreach the office continues to share our meeting space and hospitality with various groups.
The Office Collaborates with:
- Toronto Area Interfaith Council
- National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee
- The Mary Ward Centre, Toronto
- IYAM-Interfaith Youth Alliance Movement
- Toronto Catholic District School Board
- Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) Toronto
- Canadian Interfaith Conversation
- Jaffari Community Centre
- Sikh Sangat of Canada
- The Urban Buddhist Monk
- Bahá'í Community of Toronto
- Zoroastrian Society of Ontario
- Masjid Toronto
- The Dominican Institute of Toronto
- University of St. Michael's College
- Faith Connections
- Fraser Centre, Regis College
- Office of Catholic Youth, Archdiocese of Toronto
- Vedic Cultural Center
- As-Sadiq Islamic School
- Brahma Kumaris
- Faith and the Common Good
- Noor Cultural Center, Toronto
Some noteworthy actvities organised, promoted and attended in this effort are:
- The World Interfaith Harmony Week- Annual UN Observance Week: Feb. 1-7 The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.
- Ramadan & Eid get together with our Muslim Friends
The Iftar dinners are organised during the month of Ramadan when the Muslim believers fast.
- Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist celebrations
We greet our Hindu friends on Diwali, to our Buddhist friends on the Birthday of Buddha and to our Sikh friends on the birthday of Guru Nanak. We also celebrate these special days by visiting their Worship places and community Centres.
- Zoroastrian Holy Days and Observances
Nowruz (the Persian New Year), Khordad Sal (Khordad Sal, or Greater Nowruz, is the Prophet Zarathustra’s birthday), Zartosht No-Diso (On this important day, Zoroastrians mark the death anniversary of the prophet Zoroaster, founder of their faith. Falling on the 10th of the month of Dae (December 26), it is a solemn occasion).
- The Bahá’í Community in GTA
The office also joins our Bahai Community on their special days and collaborate with them on various projects. We also join to celebrate some of their special religious and cultural days. Some of the important days are; First Day of Ridván (meaning “Paradise” in Arabic) — the most important of the Bahá’í holy days. It is the day on which Bahá’u’lláh declared His mission as a Messenger of God. Declaration of the Báb. Martyrdom of the Báb. The Birth of Baha'u'llah.
- Young Adults Interfaith Dialogue Group is co-sponsored by the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and the Canadian Council of Imams fosters mutual and deeper understandings of the Islamic and Catholic faiths, supports uniting and life-giving friendships between Catholic and Muslim students and young adults through thought-provoking dialogues on topics related to both faiths and by living out these faiths through social service activities.
- Season of Creation (September 1 - October 4) is observed annually in collaboration with other faith communities.
- Special prayer services to commemorate religious, cultural or historic global and national events.
- “Ripples of Kindness”. The office joins hands with community and faith groups, in the effort to address the issues of homelessness and other such social injustices prevalent in the GTA. Ripples of Kindness, is one such attempt to organize and run a free, interfaith community meal program aimed at reaching out to the marginalized and struggling residents of downtown Toronto. The program continues to provide meals irrespective of cast, colour or creed every Saturday.
- Diploma in Interfaith Dialogue
Since 2019, the Diploma of Interfaith Dialogue has been fostering discussion amongst members of the world’s major religious traditions. This new, unique joint venture from the Faculty of Theology at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto and the Office of Interreligious Dialogue, Archdiocese of Toronto is open to people of all faiths and it doesn’t require potential students to have a university degree to apply.
- Special learning opportunity Fr. Anthony Prakash Lohale, OP-Director, the Office for Interreligious Dialogue, Archdiocese of Toronto, and Anthony De Feo, Program Coordinator for the Diploma of Interfaith Dialogue, tell us more about this special learning opportunity.
- InsightOut: My Return to St. Michael’s. One of St. Michael's alumni who joined the Diploma in Interfaith Dialogue talks about her journey as a student.
- Interfaith awareness and formation seminars are another effort to outreach among groups in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
- Vatican News
- Fratelli Tutti §271