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Around the Arch
Oct 10
Walking with Refugees at Romero House

As Blessed Oscar Romero is being canonized this Sunday, October 14, we recognize that his legacy has spread far and wide from his home in El Salvador. For this reason, we are featuring local not-for-profit Romero House, whose name was inspired by this soon-to-be saint's heart for those in need.

Romero House is a haven for refugees in Toronto that provides housing, settlement and advocacy services. It started when a small group took over a refugee shelter threatened with closure, back in 1991. Twenty-seven years later, Romero House is a fixture in the city's West End – located at Bloor and Dundas Streets. Over the years, Romero House has welcomed several waves of refugees: from the Horn of Africa, from Eastern Europe after the breakup of the Soviet Union, from Iran, Columbia and Mexico. 

Romero House helps refugees in need. (Photo courtesy of Romero House) 

On a day-to-day basis, Romero House serves as a bridge between shelters and long-term housing for refugees. Their programs include transitional housing and walk-in services, such as help accessing food banks, settlement assistance, legal aid, education, clothing and finding lawyers.   

Their four houses are divided into 10 units where families can live until their refugee hearings – most of these families spend the first year of their new life in Canada living at Romero House. Staff members provide a variety of programs for families, including a Kids' Club and Women's Group, retreats throughout the year, and a summer camp.

One of the non-profit's most unique features is that their staff live in their houses, alongside the newcomers. The organization's origin story asserts that "at the heart of Romero House is a fundamental decision to say 'I trust you' by choosing not to lock our internal doors."

Their current structure exemplifies a heart of service. Much of the work at Romero House is done by a team of interns, who choose to spend a year living in community, assisting the residents.

Before his assassination in 1980, Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador in El Salvador, spoke out against injustice, poverty and torture. According to the organization's website: "He exemplified the hope for faith and justice, and the inclusivity that Romero House was to embody."

For more information on Romero House, please visit To follow the pilgrims from Romero House throughout their pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization,
visit or The canonization ceremony will be broadcast on Salt and Light Television this Sunday, October 14 at 9:30 a.m. As well, Romero House will be hosting a viewing of the canonization at the same date and time at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School located at 1515 Bloor St. W. All are welcome. 

Sep 25
Accompanying women over the years

Aid to Women has been serving women in the Greater Toronto Area since 1984. On September 26, they are celebrating their 30th anniversary with an evening reception at the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto. Below, Executive Director Mary Helen Moes shares her thoughts on the ministry's mission and vision.

1. Tell us about the ministry and work of Aid to Women.

Aid to Women (ATW) is an absolutely beautiful registered charity, located in Toronto, that moves mountains. We clear the obstacles in front of a women facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer her real solutions and caring support, as a real option to aborting her baby. Since the beginning, ATW has helped thousands of women and are committed to providing information and non-judgmental support needed for young mothers to make life-affirming decisions about their pregnancy. We believe that pregnant mothers should never feel alone. With that in mind, we then accompany the mother through birth and into the early years of parenting. We assist with needs such as counselling, accommodations, diapers, baby clothes, strollers, car seats, etc., while networking them into the community for additional services. We also offer post-abortion recovery and support. All of our services are free and confidential.


2.  As Aid To Women looks back over the last 30 years, what is the organization most proud of?

Aid to Women has been serving women in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond since 1984 as the only crisis pregnancy service located beside an abortion clinic in Canada. While it is easy to say a woman should not abort her baby, it is significantly more important to do something about it. The founders of this organization knew it would be hard and did it anyway. Their dedication as volunteers is unsurpassed.  They made commitments and sacrificed and it was worth it. Every mother has been profoundly grateful for the assistance of Aid to Women. And now in 2018, we have seen an over 120 per cent increase in clients. I am proud that Aid to Women has such a strong reputation that social service agencies and health care professionals are now referring women to us who are undecided on aborting their baby.

3. What has been the most challenging part of your work as Executive Director?

With every charity, there is the worry of raising enough funds to meet the budget. But here at Aid to Women, financing the increase of support we are called to give was secondary to the reality of what happens when we don't support a mother in crisis with an unplanned pregnancy. Personally, I've shed a tear a number of times, watching women walk by our office door and walk into the abortion clinic beside us. I pray, also, that I never stop being bothered by it.  It propels me to switch my tears into a double effort of trying to save the babies that I can in the most creative ways possible.  More than that, the women that come to our office get the best and latest information and are offered the best support. All in all, I've quickly realized that I must rely heavily on God to help me celebrate each life we save and to trust His guiding hand. If that continues to happen, we will make Aid to Women an example of what being pro-life really means. It is an honour to do this work. 

4. What would you recommend and/or say to someone who wanted to support the work of Aid to Women?

Thank you. Really, thank you! Thank you for contacting us and accompanying us in this life-giving work.

Sep 07
St. Pio’s relics coming to the Archdiocese of Toronto

"Pray, hope and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayers." This is perhaps St. Pio's most well-known saying – encouraging us to trust in God at all times. Trust in God is what guided Padre Pio through his earthly journey bearing the painful stigmata one century ago.

From September 18 to 19, the relics of St. Pio will be coming to the Archdiocese of Toronto for the first time. Some of the relics on display at St. Philip Neri Parish in Toronto will include St. Pio's mantle – the brown cloak worn by Capuchin friars – as well as one of the gloves he wore to cover his wounds and a lock of his hair.

St. Pio's glove, pictured above, is one of the many relics coming to the Archdiocese of Toronto from September 18 to 19. The revered saint wore these protective gloves to conceal his stigmata wounds. (Photo courtesy of the Saint Pio Foundation)

Capuchin Franciscan Brother Joseph S. Lourdusamy, pastor of St. Philip Neri, calls St. Pio a great confessor – as he was well-known for hearing confessions for hours on end every day – and healer.

"More than ever, today's world is wounded, and needs people like Padre Pio who – through the stigmata – experienced not only the pain of the Saviour, but the pain of the world, too."

Fifty years after his death, the message of St. Pio's "Pray, hope and don't worry" mantra is still relevant, he adds.

"It is a challenge to live out this message. To become aware of one's woundedness is the first step towards healing. Everyone is called to be a wounded healer."

A relatively new saint, St. Pio was canonized by St. John Paul II in 2002, and there are still many people alive today who have met him personally.

"Most of us who have not seen, can recall and relive the holy life lived by Padre Pio when we visit and venerate these relics. A visit to the relics can confirm and invigorate faith in God and in the saints."

Public veneration of the relics will take place at St. Philip Neri Parish (2100 Jane St., near Wilson) on Tuesday, September 18 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., followed by a Mass at 7:30 p.m. celebrated by Bishop John A. Boissonneau, and will continue on Wednesday, September 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

Aug 30
Forming Seminarians after the ‘Heart of the Good Shepherd’

As a new group of seminarians begin their formation at St. Augustine's Seminary in Toronto and others continue on their vocation journey, Archdiocese of Toronto Vocations Director, Fr. Chris Lemieux, shares his own reflections on working with those discerning a call to the priesthood.

Cardinal Collins and I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days at Mount Mary Retreat Center with most of the seminarians for the Archdiocese of Toronto. This was an opportunity for our seminarians already in formation to meet the 11 seminarians joining them this year. We are blessed, truly blessed. The Archdiocese of Toronto has 56 men in formation in various years at two major seminaries; St. Augustine's Seminary (which includes Serra House Pre-Theology Seminary) and the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. 

In light of the current challenges facing the Church, especially related to the behaviour and example of clergy, it's important to ensure that we prepare those pursuing the priesthood faithfully and responsibly. I truly believe that we have very good men who desire holiness, who are servants and who really do seek to be shepherds after the Heart of the Good Shepherd.

These men are not perfect but I can assure you they are self-reflective, honest and generous men and who live in this world but desire something greater than this world can ever offer them: a life always in Jesus Christ, sharing His love with their sisters and brothers. These men need to know and accept God the Father's love first and have a good sense of what it means to be a father to people in this world, modeled on St. Joseph, other saints and other fine examples of fatherhood in the world, often their own fathers.

One of the most important things Cardinal Collins shared with them was a sense of the Lord's mission with them and assured them that they are an important part of that mission in the Archdiocese of Toronto. I am deeply grateful to the Lord to be their Vocation Director. I am aware that this is title given to me to define a role I have – because Jesus Christ is and always will be their true Vocation Director.  

One of the challenges most Vocation Directors face today is a reluctance on the part of many to come forward. In many places, Vocation Directors resist the urge to take just anyone when they don't have a lot of men presenting themselves in the first place. Most Directors also hear from many people that they should be more open to the men who do come forward. We don't have as many men entering as represents our Catholic population of over 2 million in the Archdiocese of Toronto. We could have more than double the men in formation that we have right now but I want to be sure to have strict enough requirements to help the right men enter formation, but not so strict that I discourage an authentic and true calling because of my own limitations. That is why it is important to empower a team to help me in this task.

We are truly blessed that these men are the men the Lord has given to us, to discern for us and please God to serve us in the future. To have an abundance of diocesan priests is not the Lord's desire, but to have the right ones – is. That's what I hope and pray for, and I hope it's what you will pray for too. As seminarians being another year of formation, May the Lord who has begun the good work in them, bring it to Glorious Fulfillment.

Aug 21
Deaf Catholic Community celebrates a century of service

​It was a marriage proposal that set the wheels in motion to establish the St. Francis Catholic Deaf Community 100 years ago this month.

In 1918, Frank Crough, a young deaf man, proposed to his girlfriend – a non-Catholic member of the deaf community. As a part of their marriage preparation, he wanted her to learn more about his faith, so he reached out to one of his old teachers, Rev. Mother Columbiere.  

"She was very happy to meet with Frank," explains Carol Stokes, Co-ordinator of Deaf Ministry in the Archdiocese of Toronto. "After their conversation, she said she was worried about the Catholic deaf who were finished school. She lost no time in asking Frank to find and bring community members to Loretto College, where she worked as a bursar."

Pictured above, members of the deaf community attend the 2017 Easter Vigil at St. Stephen's Chapel. 

As a next step, Columbiere contacted the archbishop at the time, Bishop Neil McNeil, who put her in charge of the Religious Services for the Deaf. From there, she got in touch with the Paulist Fathers at St. Peter's Church, who began delivering a sermon for the deaf every Sunday.

From these humble beginnings, the deaf ministry has blossomed through the years to ensure the deaf can fully participate in Mass and the sacraments, through the assistance of an American Sign Language interpreter. At present, there are four regularly interpreted Masses in the Archdiocese of Toronto: St. Stephen's Chapel in the central region; St. Maximillian Kolbe in the western region; St. Gertrude's Parish to the east and Holy Spirit Parish in the northern region.

Stokes estimates there are about 600 deaf Catholics actively practicing their faith in this region – and she prays that number will continue growing, as has been the trend in recent years.

"During my time as co-ordinator, I have seen the deaf grow in their faith. Their feeling of acceptance and involvement with the family of faith in the archdiocese has, I think, made them feel they are members of a larger community – and has encouraged them to learn more about their faith, through monthly Bible study, workshops and retreats."

In 1974, a public grant enabled them to create the first summer Sign Language Camp for children in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

"I benefitted from attending Silent Voice Camp because it provided me a space to interact and socialize with other children within the deaf community," says Sarah Avarell, whose mother is deaf, while her father is hard of hearing. "Going to a camp with other children who had deaf parents or who were deaf or hard of hearing themselves provided me with a sense of community and better understanding of our culture. I was able to enjoy summer activities but also learn about compassion, understanding and acceptance."

The 14th International Catholic Deaf Association Canadian Section conference runs from August 22 to 26 at the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto, with a Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Collins, on August 25 to mark St. Francis Catholic Deaf Community's centennial.

Aug 02
Helping Middle Eastern Christians

Carl Hétu, Canadian national director of CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association) – an organization that is devoted to working with the poor and marginalized through the local Church – shares his insights below on the current realities in the Middle East.

What is the current situation for Christians in the Middle East?

Daily life for Christians in the Middle East has been difficult. Things took a turn for the worse in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq by the U.S., Great Britain and their allies. Iraq spiraled into internal tribal conflict and anarchy. Christians were stuck in the middle – often being victims of threats, kidnapping, torture and assassination. As a result, approximately 1.2 million Christians were forced to leave the country since 2003. Some 250,000 Christians remain in Iraq today. The unresolved Israel-Palestinian conflict has also caused economic and political hardships. Only 55,000 and 1,100 Christians remain in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively. In Syria, the civil war has practically destroyed the country. Christians have certainly not been spared from the violence. The Christian population has gone down to 1 million from 2 million since 2011. More are fleeing. In Egypt, attacks on Christians are common. We believe that some 400,000 have left the country in the last seven years. Christians live in greater security in Jordan and Israel; but there has been a recent rise in internal tensions.

An Iraqi father at the Saint Anthony Community Health Centre in Lebanon, supported by CNEWA, which Hétu visited on a trip to Lebanon last spring.  

How does your most recent trip to Lebanon in April compare to your last visit to the region?

The Lebanese people seem anxious, tired and increasingly frustrated. The population of Lebanon is 4 million. There are more than 1.3 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees, plus 500,000 Palestinian refugees, in the country. The impact on the local economy and social services is overwhelming. Local aid organizations are exhausted and lacking in resources to support refugees but also there is an increasing number of Lebanese people who are getting poorer, losing their jobs and in need of support. It's a very alarming and potentially volatile situation.

How does CNEWA Canada plan to use Canadian donations to help affected Christians?  

CNEWA is blessed to have three offices in the region and some 30 devoted staff who work with the local churches on a daily basis to tend to the many social service-related and spiritual needs of the local populations. This is our strength and, through them, we can ensure that funds are used wisely and effectively.  

Is there anything else that you feel it's important for Canadian Catholics to know about the realities on the ground faced by Christians in the Middle East?

Some people wonder why it's important to support Christians in the region. The reason is simple: wherever the Church exists you will find people working to build up the kingdom of God on earth. When Christians are forced to flee, or weakened in their vocation, the local community tends to experience a reduction in social services and, oftentimes, instability. As religious freedom is threatened across the globe, Christians in Canada need to keep watch on events in the Middle East. What happens there is not isolated to their region. Helping Christians in the Middle East also strengthens our own faith and determination to live in a better world with peace for all.

For more information on CNEWA's year-long campaign to raise awareness on the struggle of Christians living in the Middle East, or to support CNEWA's work, please visit

Jul 23
Two irreconcilable concepts of human sexuality

​In light of the 50th anniversary on July 25 of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, Sr. Helena Burns, FSP, shares her insights on its enduring importance. Burns regularly travels across Canada and the U.S. to bring Theology of the Body workshops to youth and adults. 

Let's talk about sex

We can't talk about contraception and Humanae Vitae until we talk about sex. There are two purposes of sex that are inseparable: love (union) and life (procreation). If we separate them we are "using" a human person, which is never in accord with human dignity. There are two other purposes of sex within marriage as well (that also tie our sexuality directly to God): a foretaste of heaven and a way to heaven (marriage is a sacrament; sacraments get you holy; sex or "the marital embrace" is a big part of marriage and consummates the marriage; the marital embrace is doing physically what marriage vows do verbally).

It started in the garden

I always think of Eve when I think of contraception, primarily the Pill: "But it's just a little piece of fruit!" ("But it's just a little pill!") So what's the big deal whether we use artificial contraception (against God's Word, natural law and Church teaching) or Natural Family Planning (acceptable)? Isn't the goal the same: to prevent pregnancy? Isn't Natural Family Planning (NFP) just "Catholic birth control?" Yes and no. No.

The end doesn't justify the means

The goal of contraception and NFP might be the same, that is, to avoid pregnancy (although NFP is also used to achieve pregnancy whereas contraception is always to prevent), but the end doesn't justify the means. Contraception is doing something: having sex during a woman's fertile time, while thwarting one of its inseparable purposes at the same time (life). Natural Family Planning is not doing something: abstaining from sex during a woman's fertile time so that the marital embrace will always be "open" to both love and life when it happens. Contraception and NFP are equally effective, around 97 per cent if done accurately.

Atomic truth bomb

Let's start with what is probably the biggest truth bomb regarding the very great differences between contraception and NFP: John Paul II calls them "two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality" (Familiaris consortio, 32). Whatever can he mean? For years – although I accepted Humanae Vitae (the Church's 1968 reaffirmation of her 2,000-year-old rejection of contraception and abortion) as infallible Church teaching – I really didn't understand it, nor could I explain it to anyone else. For a fallen mind (humanity after the Fall), what should be obvious often isn't. It wasn't until I discovered John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" that not only Humanae Vitae made sense to this former radical feminist, but the entire Catholic Faith begin to make sense through this very concrete, sacramental lens.


Although the Church has always had a pro-woman, pro-man, pro-child, pro-family, pro-life, body-positive stance with regard to contraception and abortion (Remember, whenever we say "no" to something, we're saying "yes" to something else.), when Humanae Vitae was issued, it caused not only an uproar among the faithful, but a well, rather "unfaithful" reaction: it was rejected and Catholics used contraception anyway (the Pill was invented in 1960).

Pope Paul's predictions

Now. We should obey God, His Word, His Church and right reason, even if we don't fully understand--while we delve deeper. (St. Anselm called this "faith seeking understanding.") But that didn't happen. So here we are, 50 years later, reaping the bitter fruits that Paul VI predicted would come to fruition if society wholeheartedly embraced contraception: promiscuity/marital infidelity/breakdown of the family; increased objectification of women; governments mandating/promoting anti-life policies; thinking we can do anything with the body as raw material instead of treating it as sacred.

How is Humanae Vitae pro-woman?

Humanae Vitae is pro-woman because it is attentive to and respects a woman's psyche, body and her cycles. The man has to also be attentive to a woman's psyche, body and her cycles. Women have cycles: monthly fertility cycles. Women are not always available, that's the lie of male domination, porn, prostitution, a misunderstanding of Scripture and contraception.  

It's not about "artificial"

You will never hear me use the word "artificial" before the word "contraception." That's not the problem. It's not artificial vs. natural means. Catholics love true progress. We love science and medicine and technology and we use them all the accordance with human dignity: hearing aids, pacemakers, operations, medicine, etc. There is nothing as 'natural" as an "artificial" arm. Why? Because a prosthesis takes the place of a missing/disabled arm and does what an arm does. Contraception does not do what a healthy, functioning system in the body does (namely, fertility). It does the exact opposite and turns a healthy, functioning body system into an unhealthy, malfunctioning system, often over long periods of time.

God is so merciful to us that now we have the science (biology and social sciences) that proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that what God told us is good for us actually is, and what God told us is bad for us actually is. The physical, spiritual, psychological, relational and societal effects of contraception are damaging and destructive. The physical, spiritual, psychological, relational and societal effects of NFP are healthy and empowering. I'm going to quote only one statistic here that should make all of us sit up and pay attention and want to know everything we can about NFP: the divorce rate of NFP couples is 1-2 per cent.


NFP-Toronto (Billings Method):
New documentary by former pro-abortion radical feminist and atheist:
Best books on Humanae Vitae, Theology of the Body, contraception and NFP:

Jul 13
A support for the nursing community

​At the end of June, the Canadian chapter of the National Association of Catholic Nurses officially launched, with a Mass at the Newman Centre in Toronto. Below, President-Elect Helen McGee – a psychiatric nurse and Advanced Practice Clinical Leader – explains the organization's mission and why this type of support is needed for Canadian nurses. Her opinions do not represent those of her employer.

 1. What is the association's mission?

The association supports and strengthens the vocation of nurses and other health professionals within the apostolic tradition of the Catholic Church. It invites health practitioners to anchor their personal lives and professional practice in the Word, nourished through the sacraments, and in witness to Christ – bearing testimony to Him by aligning their lives and practice with Catholic teaching.

 2. How does membership benefit Canadian Catholic nurses?

Our association links Canadian health professionals with support and resources that promote our mission. Members may also become actively involved in affirming Catholic moral teaching with us through service, education, research, member formation, public discourse, or development and fundraising.  

3. Why is fellowship important for Catholic nurses in Canada at this time?

It is always important to integrate our Catholic identity, prayer and sacramental life with moral challenges in professional practice. Recent developments, such as legalizing assisted suicide in Canada, present urgent challenges in clinical and academic settings. Catholic health professionals need safe spaces and support to deal with their current isolation and moral distress.  

4. How has the battle over conscience rights impacted nurses?

Catholic nurses need to promote patients' health and preserve life when confronted with practices that are intended to terminate life. The current battle over conscience rights shows that we need the support of colleagues, prayer and participation in the sacraments to effectively navigate academic and clinical settings. 

How has the nursing field changed for Catholic practitioners– and how does the association respond to these changes?

Nursing practice always involves moral issues but recent requirements to participate in or refer patients for medically induced death challenged us to contribute to public discourse from a Catholic perspective through writing, speaking and participation in the legislative process. Our association supports members as they develop effective strategies to achieve accommodation of their moral decisions and continue to care for patients in the context of legal but morally controversial procedures.

For more information on NACN-Canada, or to become a member, email

Jun 25
The spirituality of aging

​Sr. Mary Rose Marrin, CSJ, was inspired to start a Ministry with Maturing Adults based at St. Mary's Parish in Barrie in 2007 after noticing the 50+ demographic had been underserved for so many years. She holds a certificate in Spiritual Gerontology, an emerging discipline which deals with the inner emotional and spiritual needs of the senior adults. In light of Seniors' Month, Sr. Mary Rose shares her insights on the 'spiritualty of aging.'

1. Why are the 'maturing years' (50+) a vital period for spiritual growth?

Throughout most of history, aging has been viewed in terms of diminishment and decline. In the 1970s, gerontologists began to study not just the deficits of aging but also the undeveloped potentials of the aging process. Their research showed that the spiritual dimension was a major undeveloped potential. In fact, they concluded that as we mature, our potential for spiritual growth increases. The nature of this potential is in an increased capacity for awareness, consciousness, insight, and wisdom – wisdom as understood as grasping the meaning of life, of getting a glimpse of life from God's perspective. As one person said, "Sometimes, it takes a lifetime just to get it." This potential is not just for the benefit of the individual but for society. It is the vocation of the elder to remind the world of what is really important in human life. With the current unravelling of society, the role of the wise elder has never been more urgently needed. We do not become wise simply by growing old. Karl Rahner wrote: "Aging is a vocation and a mission. It is serious business and runs the risk of radical failure." 

2. What are some activities that seniors can undertake on a daily basis in order to encourage their faith development and enhance their zest for life?

Maturing adults need to develop a sense of personal responsibility for their ongoing growth throughout the aging process. There is a tendency towards entitlement; that somehow others are responsible for taking care of me. Related to this entitlement and our culture's obsession with entertainment, there is a tendency to approach every offering in terms of what I will personally gain from it. This needs to be balanced by an attitude of: What can I contribute?

Some specific activities might be:

  • Spending some time each day in stillness: being present to oneself, to nature, to music, to the Spirit of God
  • Reach out to someone every day in person, or by phone or email
  • Join a group
  • Participate in activities at your parish
  • Develop interests which keep you feeling 'fully alive'
  • Listen to the news and chose one current need which touches you. Pray for that situation today.
  • Do a few minutes of good reading each day. Be attentive to what speaks to you.
  • Take time at the end of the day to be grateful for the gifts of that day.

3. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Ageism is very strong in our culture. This is a very real challenge. The general stance is to resist and deny the aging process. There is also a tendency to think that any outreach to seniors is directed to the frail elderly. Active seniors do not want to be associated with frailty. As well, parish ministry tends to focus on the celebration of sacraments and sacramental preparation. The celebration of the Eucharist is central. However, once adults become empty nesters they often tend to have less contact with the parish and can easily slip away. The ministry is addressed not only to the inner core of regular participants but must reach out to all levels of participation – and non-participation. On a positive note, any evidence of insight gained is a cause of joy. Seeing parish communities reach out to each other is a source of joy and energy.

For more information on resources and support for seniors in the Archdiocese of Toronto, please contact Sally Amaral at the Office of Formation for Discipleship at

Jun 08
Food for body and soul at St. Ann’s

​At St. Ann's Parish in downtown Toronto, visitors receive spiritual nourishment – and food, should they be in need.

Since 2005, the parish has run a community food bank under the coordination of parishioners Carlos Carreiro and his wife, Colette. Supporting this husband-and-wife team are 46 volunteers – family, friends, fellow parishioners, students from the Newman Chaplaincy Centre at the University of Toronto, Holy Name Parish and groups from local elementary schools.

At present, the St. Ann's Food Bank serves 700 clients every month – but that number is rising slightly, says Carlos. He cites housing costs as one of the key factors affecting families.

"(The food bank) takes some of the pressure away from being able to afford to feed yourself or your family," adds Carlos, who works in the property management industry and volunteers about 12 hours per week to help keep the food bank running. "We also provide a stable source, so that people can count on us being there for them on a regular basis."

Located in the parish basement, the food bank receives donations  from multiple sources, including Daily Bread Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Rescue, St. Francis Table, Bridgepoint Health Centre, school food drives, local neighbourhood drives, individuals and volunteers.

The food bank is open every Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., or until the last client leaves. (Every week, clients go through a brief screening process, he adds.)

Looking forward, Carlos hopes there will be a day when the food bank won't be needed. "However, our goal is to continue to be able to provide food and an equitable place for those who need our services."

To get involved and volunteer at St. Ann's Parish Food Bank, please contact Carlos at

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