At her funeral, Sr. Sue’s brother Dan Moran, told a packed chapel at the Scarboro Missions how strange it is to think of Toronto without its dauntless warrior for the homeless and to think of his family without her spirit of joy.
“She was supposed to be with us forever,” Moran said. “She will be.”
Thirty years ago, in 1987, Sr. Sue, Basilian Fr. John Murphy, Anglican priest Rev. John Erb and students at St. Michael’s College School opened the first drop-in for the poor in downtown Toronto under a banner that proclaimed “Out of the Cold.” The students and their teachers were moved by the death of a homeless man near the Bathurst Street school the year before.
Over the following decade the program gradually evolved from a weekend, storefront drop-in to overnight stays and hot meals in church basements, synagogue community halls and mosques. Today, Out of the Cold provides shelter to more than 12,000 people a year at 16 locations in Toronto and hundreds more at 10 sites in York Region.
Presiding at Sr. Sue’s funeral Mass, Fr. Jack Lynch recalled how often she phoned him to let him in on her latest plan to help Toronto’s homeless.
“She was one of the most persistent and insistent people I have ever known,” Lynch said.
In his homily, Lynch highlighted the ways in which Sr. Sue was a leader of the Church in Toronto – a woman who showed the Church how to be more truly Christian.
“As a Church we should have a debt of gratitude to women like Susan, who have been a model,” Lynch said. “We need the voice of women.”
Sr. Sue’s legendary persistence was born of Christian hope – a conviction that we are called to something more, something better.
“Susan never lost hope. Nor should we,” said Lynch.
Sr. Sue entered Our Lady’s Missionaries in 1963 with the hope of serving abroad. In the end her health kept her away from the foreign missions, but she built a career in teaching and chaplaincy before discovering her mission to the homeless of Toronto.
In the days since her death became public, tributes to Toronto’s apostle of the streets have poured in.
“We mourn the passing of Sr. Susan Moran,” Cardinal Thomas Collins told The Catholic Register. “Her unwavering dedication to serve the homeless was inspiring.”
Collins recalled how Sr. Sue reached out to faith communities of all kinds across the Greater Toronto Area, “reminding us of our call to provide not only shelter but also dignity, compassion and love to the homeless.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory praised her immense contribution to the city.
“Sr. Susan Moran was the heart and soul of (Out of the Cold),” said Tory in an email. “The program is a great Toronto story. It is in synagogues. It is in Catholic churches. It is in non-denominational community institutions. She has left the city a lasting legacy that is deeply appreciated.”
On Facebook, Phil Little recalled Sr. Sue as “one of those who walk the talk.”
Catholic Register columnist Dorothy Cummings called Sr. Sue, “A true Canadian heroine.”
“Because of what has been started through Sr. Susan and the hundreds of volunteers over the last 30 years, we have shown through the faith-based Out of the Cold programs a response of care and love that is very rooted in belief that God is a God of compassion,” wrote St. Patrick’s downtown pastor Fr. Santo Arrigo in an email to The Catholic Register.