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Working to Build the Kingdom

Posted : Feb-07-2024

On Thursday February 8, 2024, the Archdiocese of Toronto will host its annual Employee Service Recognition Celebration honouring employees with long-term service within the archdiocese. Considering this, today we feature the story of David Finnegan who will be recognized for his 40 years of service with the Archdiocese of Toronto.

The Archdiocese of Toronto is home to close to 2 million Catholics and geographically speaking, it is a very large area that spans from Mississauga in the West to Oshawa in the East and from the North shore of Lake Ontario all the way up to Georgian Bay – Christian Island specifically -  in the North. Although, when looking at a map of the Archdiocese it seems as though either Collingwood or Orangeville may be able to make a case for being the most Western-point of the Archdiocese.

Within the boundaries of the archdiocese are 225 parish churches that celebrate Mass each week in around 30 languages. Of course, there are the many parishes both large and small scattered throughout the City of Toronto including in Etobicoke, York, Scarborough, North York, and East York too. There are parishes located in small rural towns like Brechin, Stayner and Schomberg along with the Suburban parishes in all the cities and towns surrounding Toronto proper – Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa, not to mention the towns and cities to the North including Aurora, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia and Midland. It is truly a large archdiocese in terms of population, ethnic diversity and geography.

Within all these parish communities as well as in the archdiocesan head-office, called the Catholic Pastoral Centre, as well as at the satellite offices and the seminaries of the archdiocese, there are hundreds of lay men and women working to support the clergy in their mission to minister to the faithful.

David Finnegan in 1987 outside St. Joseph's Place

According to Stats Canada, the average length of tenure in all job sectors is roughly 8.5 years. This is with workers in the agriculture sector skewing the average length of employment upward seeing as though they tend to last on average 16.6 years. It is remarkable then, to think that this year alone in the archdiocese, a total of 59 people will be receiving recognition for their long-term service. 36 people will be recognized for reaching 10 years of service, 6 people for 20 years of service, 8 people for 25 years, 6 people for 30 years, 2 people for 40 years, and one who has worked for the archdiocese for the past 50 years. We are truly blessed to have these people working in the vineyard, serving the Lord with their skills and talents. These are truly special people, dedicated to a life of service to the Church.

One such young man was hired some 40 years ago, in 1983, after immigrating to Canada from Dundrum on the South side of Dublin, Ireland. Little did he know at the time, the impact he would have in literally helping to build and shape the archdiocese. David Finnegan had visited family in Canada – in Montreal, to be exact - as a youngster on several occasions but after deciding to move to Canada to live, he was hired by Derek Keaveney, the Director of Finance for the Archdiocese at the time as well as Fr. Gerry Walace, Pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in what we refer to now as the Leslieville neighbourhood of Toronto, located Northwest of the Woodbine Beach area.

Finnegan was hired as Building Administrator at St. Joseph’s Senior Citizens Residence on Curzon Street adjacent to St. Joseph’s parish. (Photo on the right is Finnegan standing in the courtyard of St. Joseph’s Place, taken from a document dated 1987.) With several years of working in his father’s real estate and appraisal business in Dublin in addition to his education in commerce, the position of Building Administrator was a natural fit.

After three years of successfully managing the facility, in 1986 Finnegan was promoted to Projects Coordinator of the Senior Citizens Projects Office of the archdiocese in addition to his responsibilities at the St. Joseph’s residence building. This opportunity led to him working closely with parishes on planning, rezoning, obtaining government funding as well as overseeing the design, construction and staffing of 8 additional seniors residence buildings – 728 apartments in total – on parish properties. This led to the eventual establishment of the Archdiocese of Toronto Housing Office in 1988.

David Finnegan in 2024

The Housing Office of the Archdiocese of Toronto was created to oversee the operation and administration of these 9 housing projects. Upon completion of the construction of all the projects, in 1993 Finnegan was promoted once again to the role he currently holds, Director of Planning, Properties and Housing. With this change in title came the additional responsibility of planning for new parish communities, church construction and renovation projects. “To date, our office has been involved in the planning and construction of 25 new parish and church buildings along with numerous parish renovation projects,” said Finnegan.

These days, Finnegan needs little help staying motivated. He cites offering his knowledge and experience as a support and service to pastors and parishes in the archdiocese as a driving factor in his work. “I very much enjoy working with the clergy and the genuine feeling of appreciation received,” he noted.

“Every day is different and brings new challenges which again keeps me motivated. The atmosphere within the Pastoral Centre and the sense of cooperation with the various other departments provides for a very positive work environment.”

If he hadn’t dedicated his professional life to work for the Church, Finnegan says that he would have still followed in his father’s footsteps. “My interest has always been in real estate and if not working for the archdiocese, I’d likely have worked in real estate or property development in the private sector.” (Photo on the left is Finnegan’s photo from the archdiocesan staff photo directory from 2024.)

We are very blessed to have so many people like Finnegan working diligently in the archdiocese to make our Catholic community thrive. As St. Paul the Apostle wrote to the Colossians, “Whatever your work is, put your heart into it as done for the Lord.” (Col. 3:23) Congratulations to all those being recognized for their years of service to the Church and may God continue to bless you in abundance.

Interested in working for the Church? Visit the Archdiocese of Toronto employment opportunities page here.