Fr. John Newton

Leaving something for the Church that has meant so much

  • November 2, 2014

With the Catholic Church playing a huge role in Fr. John Newton’s life, it seemed natural to him to remember the Archdiocese of Toronto in a significant way in his will. 

“It is kind of a personal matter, but I figured that I should leave something to the Church because they have done so much for me,” said the pastor of Toronto’s St. John’s parish. “So as part of my will I have left something to the Family of Faith campaign.” 

The Family of Faith campaign was launched in May with the objective of raising $105 million to support the spiritual and financial needs of Canada’s largest diocese. Although the campaign is only scheduled to actively fundraise until 2015 and expects gift payments to be made over five years or less, a special exception has been made for those wishing to contribute from their estate after death. However, the exception only applies to people 72 and older who make the stipulation in their will. 

There are a number of ways to leave money to the Church after death, but Newton chose the Family of Faith campaign because it has allocated $25 million to the restoration of St. Michael’s Cathedral. 

“I see it as kind of the heart of the diocese and I figure I should support it in some way,” Newton said inside his Kingston Road rectory next to St. John’s. “Even though it is not my parish as such, in many ways I have a strong connection to it because of past events.” 

Newton, from Whitby, Ont., said the cathedral made its first impression on him at a very young age. 

“My parents used to drive to the cathedral almost every other month for Mass just for a change,” said Newton, an alumni of St. Augustine’s Seminary who was ordained in Whitby. 

Newton said he remembers approaching the cathedral for the first time and being struck by the elegant design of the now 166- year-old Gothic structure. 

“Having come from a smaller town, just the size of the cathedral, the grandeur of it, the beauty of the strained glass,” really surprised me, said Newton. “We didn’t have anything like that in our home parish in Whitby. We had plain windows and as a kid I was engrossed by the stained glass windows (at St. Michael’s Cathedral).” 

Newton isn’t alone in including the Family of Faith campaign in his will, according to John Ecker, the campaign’s director of communications. 

“As we conduct the campaign we are opened to all manner of gifts,” said Ecker. “We think that it is noble that people are considering the needs of the Church in their will (and) the Family of Faith campaign is one of those many needs. If people are making a gift to the Family of Faith campaign as a will and a bequest it is because they obviously see great merit in what the campaign is accomplishing.” 

He said the cathedral restoration is one of the main projects people are taking into account when making a contribution. Funding for youth ministry in some parishes, support for campus ministries at the post-secondary level and an improved digital presence through the archdiocese’s Project Connect have also been cited as inspiring contributions, Ecker said. 

While Newton said he thinks it’s wonderful that projects aimed at supporting the future Church are inspiring gifts, people should also find reason to give in their past, as he did. 

“Most people have been given so much by the Church so I think that they should give something in return,” he said, adding that deciding to do so is a personal matter and not one he’d pressure anyone into. 

“Most people thank God for the gift of faith and they should repay it in some sort of way. The source of faith is the Church,” he said. 

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