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Around the Arch
Oct 13
ShareLife's 2017 parish campaign ends on a high note

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, sent the following letter to parishes to thank them for their generous efforts on behalf of the ShareLife Campaign.

“Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us,
to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.”
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel



With deep gratitude, I join our pastors, parishioners and school communities in celebrating the results of ShareLife’s 2017 Parish Campaign. The $12,690,597 raised for our agencies represents hard work, perseverance, and great love for the marginalized in our communities. Without you, ShareLife could not fulfill its mission to “Live the Gospel by providing for those in need.”

ShareLife also represents a reliable signpost on the course mapped out by our Pastoral Plan – namely, its core direction of “Catholic Outreach in Justice and Love.” The work of our agencies, and your generosity towards them, “serve as a pathway through which acts of justice and love are realized, and the witness of the Catholic faith strengthened.” (Pastoral Plan, IV - 3.)

With your support, ShareLife was able to allocate additional funding to support new initiatives. These include:

• A pilot project in Peel Region and Simcoe County to provide outreach services for seniors.
• A pilot project to test the applicability of a grief reconciliation approach for young mothers
who have suffered trauma and other mental health issues.
• Supporting the St. John Paul the Great Family Centre at St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish,
providing programs for seniors and youth in their community.

ShareLife is also investing in the future of our Church by educating 70 seminarians at St.
Augustine’s Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Seminary.

The enthusiastic support of our pastors makes possible these and many other programs. Please extend my deep gratitude to your parish community for its commitment to the work of ShareLife agencies. Together we are making a real difference in the lives of those in need, both here in our archdiocese and around the world.

My prayer is that we may continue to respond to God’s love by going “forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.”

May our Lord bless you always,

Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto
Oct 10
"Dialogue with the Divine"

​Many people in society today continue to think faith and the Church are irrelevant; something people should stay away from. However, countless teens and young adults from across the Archdiocese of Toronto think otherwise.

This past January, Pope Francis called for a synod of bishops to take place in October 2018 at the Vatican on the topic of, "Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment."

For the past month or so, the Archdiocese of Toronto has been engaged in a "live listening process" – seeking input from youth and young adults from various regions of the archdiocese, with the intent to collect and amalgamate their views into a document that Synod participants can use them.

presynodmarkham.jpg

Sponsored by Faith Connections, together with the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office of Catholic Youth, multiple sessions have taken place already across the region. Cardinal Collins and all of the auxillary bishops have committed to taking part and listening to the many voices that are expected to take part.

Allison Belen had the chance to share her thoughts concerning the Church's outreach to young people at the most recent discussion group at St. Stainslaus Parish in Toronto. Allison commuted in from Scarborough, as a Youth Minister and newly-expecting Mom, to hear the Cardinal's personal comments.

"I had a desire to connect with fellow young adult Catholics to really hear and share our passion, concerns, and Concrete future hopes for the Church," Belen said. 

"Pope Francis invited us to speak and assured we'd be heard— I felt it my Catholic duty to be actively involved in the process designed for dialogue and enrichment of the Church and collective Body of Christ."

All dioceses, including Toronto, have been asked to provide input, which will be used to help draft the Instrumentum Laboris, the working paper for the synod participants.

As Director of the Office of Catholic Youth, Fr. Frank Portelli has had a front row seat for all of the pre-synodal discussions so far. Portelli says the response has been favourable from the various Catholic campus ministries across the archdiocese. Many of them have sent in their responses and he's been encouraged by the entire Speak Up! process.

"I think it has confirmed the spirit of the age and the missionary spirit that the last few popes, since Pope Paul VI, have been encouraging the Church to adopt. We need to be making and equipping disciples," he said.

Portelli is tasked with writing the final report on behalf of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

"This is a new experience for me," he added. "I will be attempting to synthesize the feedback from all participants in the 16-29 age range, and then to have data attached so that the Vatican can read my report but rely on the feedback as well."

For Belen, her hopes for the Synod are clear and concise.

"With this coming Synod on Young People and Vocations, my hope is that the Pope and Bishops will listen to the Young people's suggestions with an open, earnest and prayerful heart."

Still want to jump in on all of the action? Join Faith Connections and the Office of Catholic Youth on October 11 and November 1 for their last two sessions in this unique series. That way, you can give your take on the place of faith and the Church in modern society.

Oct 03
In celebration of World Teachers' Day

"Teaching is a beautiful job as it allows you to see the growth day-by-day of people entrusted to your care. It is a little like being parents, at least spiritually. It is a great responsibility."

It is fitting to reflect on these words from Pope Francis this week as we recognize World Teachers' Day, an annual celebration that honours the dedication and commitment of educators around the world.

The fruits of a Catholic education are numerous. In addition to an education infused with the teachings of the Catholic faith, students have the opportunity to be involved in a wide array of social justice activities while building a solid moral character that will guide them for many years to come.

Image of a teacher and student.

To help equip Catholics on how to take action in their support of the Catholic education system, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association has launched the "Together in Faith" campaign, in partnership with the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association.

The campaign provides an opportunity to learn more about publicly-funded Catholic education, to celebrate the incredible work of both staff and students and to share our story with the broader community!  

If you simply want to stay in the know, the website offers a subscription form for users to sign up in order to receive timely updates about Catholic education in Ontario.

 This World Teachers' Day, consider getting involved in showing your support for the distinctive faith-based mission of Catholic education. And while you're at it, be sure to reach out to the educators in your life to let them know you appreciate all they do.

Sep 28
"I am Catholic" at Invictus

​As all eyes in Toronto and across the world turned to the athletes at the Invictus Games this week, the attention of the Archdiocese and the Catholic community turned specifically to ministering to this year’s athletes, as well we as their families and supporters.

While Toronto plays host to the international event this year, the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Office of Clergy Personnel worked hand-in-hand to ensure the spiritual needs of all of our self-identified Catholic visitors were met.

For Deacon Steve Pitre, the games provide an opportunity to enhance the mission of the local Church. Pitre currently serves as the coordinator for the Diaconate Ministry in the Archdiocese of Toronto. He's been on the ground this past week, serving as the diocesan liaison and pastoral representative to the many athletes and delegation within the Athletes Village.

Invictus1.jpg

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to minister and be relational with everyone involved,” Pitre said.

For the remainder of the Invictus Games (the closing ceremony takes place on September 30), Pitre's responsibilities include helping set-up for daily Mass at the Interfaith Centre each morning, while wandering through the Athletes Village and chatting with athletes and family members, as well as friends who may have accompanied the athletes. Besides Catholic Mass , an interdenominational prayer service is held in the morning, followed by a communal bible study in the evening

To further outreach efforts during the Invictus Games, the Canadian Bible Society created a new Bible. The Bible is entitled "I am," which is not only the theme of the games, but also two of the most important and significant words in the Bible, according to Pitre.

"The athletes have been extremely appreciative of all of the resources given, as well as the time and effort within the Interfaith Centre," said Pitre.

When not at the Interfaith Centre, Pitre says some athletes and families have taken time to visit the newly-restored St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica and have found it to be marvellous. 

For the rest of the week, Pitre is looking forward to being present; to knowing and loving all those who come through the Interfaith Centre. He recounted quite vividly how three security guards visit him every day, looking for advice and solitude, and a man from Great Britain who gave him a card and original poem.

Many thanks to Deacon Steve Pitre and all the people involved in the Interfaith Centre for their pastoral efforts this week – while the world watches the Games, the pastoral team witnesses to them.

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 http://www.vocationstoronto.ca/blog

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 www.cnewa.ca. 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 www.cwl.ca

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 me...in 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 cwl.ca.

Sources:
http://www.clavermissionarysisters.org/?page_id=289
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Good_Counsel

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

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