Church buildings are also being transformed in small and big ways all over Toronto and the surrounding towns, thanks to the $171-million dollars collected by the Family of Faith campaign. CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Family of Faith is transforming parishes

  • November 6, 2017
For many Toronto-area Catholics, the Family of Faith campaign may be a distant memory, or it may be a memory that comes back once a month as their pledge makes its regular visit to their bank account.

The two-year campaign to raise $105 million finished in 2016, but actually pulled in $171 million in cash and pledges. The money is already being spent on Archdiocese of Toronto Pastoral Plan priorities, from clergy training to youth ministry to adult faith formation. But church buildings are also being transformed in small and big ways all over Toronto and the surrounding towns.

Construction projects supported by Family of Faith range from a whole new parish hall for St. Mary’s in Brampton to window repair at St. Brigid’s in East York. Many of the projects are catching up on long neglected maintenance and upgrades.

At St. Mary Star of the Sea in Mississauga the problem was that people couldn’t hear what the pastor was preaching, what the choir was singing, or what the lector was reading. The cones inside the old speakers were disintegrating.

“It was already in the discussion before the Family of Faith came along,” said pastor Fr. Neil McMillan.

“So immediately it was brought up when we were asked to present a case for the parish.”

The church was built back in 1953 and McMillan’s not sure when the last time the sound system was upgraded. The parish is not wealthy and coming up with $116,000 to rewire and install new equipment was a considerable challenge if parishioners had to carry that burden all on their own.

“It would have been done anyway, but maybe not as quickly,” said McMillan.

McMillan is hopeful a contractor will be on the job this month and Christmas liturgies this year will be joyful, tuneful and audible.

Fr. Boniface Perri and his parishioners at St. Bernard de Clairvaux in Etobicoke just wanted to brighten up the place.

“The only way I can describe the church — very gloomy,” Perri said.

The problem is an antiquated and failing lighting system that the parish has wanted to update for years.

“A lot of pastors had talked about it but they had always been scared away because you would have to change this, that and the other thing and the costs would be way too prohibitive for a relatively poor parish like us,” said Perri. “So, nothing really got done.”

The work was finally underway last month at the church in the Jane and Lawrence Avenue West neighbourhood. The price tag was $11,685.

“We were able to maybe not get the state-of-the-art thing, but everything is new,” said Perri. “It’s happier. It’s not as gloomy.”

This isn’t just a hardware store purchase or building maintenance for the parish. It’s actually about the life of the community, Perri said.

“It sounds weird, but there is a greater sense of hope. Not just because of new light bulbs and new wiring, but that sense that we care. We care about our parish.”

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