The education system as we know it in the Archdiocese of Toronto looks nothing like it did 175 years ago. What does?

Baptisms. Weddings. Funerals. Masses. Confessions. These routine aspects of Catholic life today were rare and often inaccessible just five generations ago.

An essential obligation in the life of any diocese is to ensure the reverent care of its dead. For the Archdiocese of Toronto, the Irish potato famine and a local typhus epidemic forced it to accelerate its thinking on this important duty in the earliest days of its history.

The Archdiocese of Toronto has come a long way in 175 years but the journey is far from over. Future years will see more parishes, more ministries and a vibrant Cathedral Square, connected not only in spirit but interconnected by technologies that will link St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica with parishioners stretching from Oshawa to Midland to Oakville.

On a Sunday morning a steady stream of parishioners files through the glass doors of possibly the most bustling church in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Latecomers with toddlers in tow scan the crowded pews for a seat. As the procession ends, the priest reaches the presider’s chair and raises his right hand to his forehead.

timeline photo webFORMATIVE YEARS

  • - 1841 Dec. 17: The Diocese of Toronto is created. Michael Power is appointed its first bishop.
  • - 1848 Sept. 29: St. Michael’s Cathedral is consecrated. Catholic population reaches 50,000.
  • - 1850 Sept. 22: Bishop Armand-François-Marie de Charbonnel is installed as second bishop of Toronto. He uses his personal estate to pay off debt on St. Michael’s Cathedral.
  • - 1856: Diocese of Toronto is divided by the creation of the dioceses of Hamilton and London.
  • 1857: House of Providence opens. St. Paul’s Church Cemetery is closed after filling up quickly with the burials of Irish immigrants who had succumbed to typhoid fever.
  • - 1859 April 29: Bishop de Charbonnel resigns, Bishop John Lynch becomes third Bishop.
  • 1870 March 18: Pope Pius IX raises Toronto to an Archdiocese.
  • 1876: Sacred Heart Orphanage is established on the site of today’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre.
  • 1892: St. Michael’s Hospital is founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
  • 1893: The Catholic Register newspaper is launched.
  • 1908 April 13: Archbishop Fergus Patrick McEvay is appointed Archbishop of Toronto.
  • 1908: Canadian Catholic Church Extension Society is founded (changed to Catholic Missions In Canada in 1999).
  • 1911: Catholic population is 70,000 and total number of churches is 92.
  • 1912 Dec. 22: Archbishop Neil McNeil appointed to head Toronto archdiocese.
  • - 1913: Catholic Charities office is formed. … Aug. 28: Opening of St. Augustine’s Seminary.
  • 1924: China Mission Seminary is established next to St. Augustine’s Seminary, later becoming the Scarborough Foreign Mission Society.
  • 1935 March 20: Archbishop James C. McGuigan is installed in Toronto.


  • 1949: Catholic population is 197,000, served by 158 parishes and missions.
  • -  Establishment of the Diocese of St. Catharines.
  • - 1970 April: Toronto School of Theology is incorporated.
  • - 1971: Cardinal McGuigan resigns and is succeeded by Archbishop Philip F. Pocock.
  • - 1974: May-June: The first 26 Permanent Deacons of the Archdiocese of Toronto are ordained.
  • - 1976: ShareLife is established when Archbishop Pocock withdraws the Council of Catholic Charities from the United Way.
  • - 1978 April 29: Archbishop Pocock resigns and Bishop Gerald Emmett Carter is installed.
  • - 1979 May 26: Archbishop Carter is elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals.
  • 1982: Covenant House is established in downtown Toronto.
  • 1984: Catholic population is 1,214,000, served by 214 parishes, missions and chapels.
  • 1985: Ontario Government passes legislation providing full funding to Catholic high schools.
  • 1990 March 17: Cardinal Carter resigns, succeeded by Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic.
  • -1992: Catholic population is 1,337,000, served by 233 parishes, missions and chapels.
  • 1998 Feb. 21: Archbishop Ambrozic is elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals.
  • - 2000 Nov. 5: Official blessing of St. Paul’s Church as a minor basilica.
  • - 2002 July 23-28: World Youth Day in Toronto, presided over by Pope John Paul II.
  • 2002 Nov. 16: Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute is opened.
  • 2006 Dec. 16: Cardinal Ambrozic resigns and Archbishop Thomas Collins appointed as the 10th Archbishop of Toronto.
  • - 2012 Feb. 18: Archbishop Collins is elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals.
  • - 2016 Sept. 30: St. Michael’s Cathedral officially reopens and is consecrated as a minor basilica after a five-year, $28-million renovation.
  • Today: The Archdiocese of Toronto is Canada’s largest diocese. The Catholic population of 2 million is served by 225 parishes and includes 806 priests and 91 religious orders.

Fr. Matthew McCarthy couldn’t help but choke back tears as he stood at the altar of St. Michael’s Cathedral in the moments before entering the priesthood.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

The Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto has been forced to suspend all new applications to sponsor refugees for the rest of this year due to persistent backlogs in government processing.

Published in Canada

TORONTO – Youth ministers are in demand at the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Office of Catholic Youth is trying to keep up.

Published in Youth Speak News

With about 300 priests concelebrating, dozens of deacons in attendance and an overflow assembly standing in the aisles of St. Michael’s Cathedral, the Archdiocese of Toronto re-equipped itself for another year of baptisms, confirmations and ordinations by welcoming the new supply of chrism oil.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

It's a blessing that he didn't expect, said newly appointed Msgr. John Borean.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

Conscience rights for Ontario doctors will get the full attention of Queen’s Park on Thursday, March 23, in committee hearings on Bill 84.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

TORONTO – The oldest and longest serving priest in the history of the Archdiocese of Toronto has died. In his 78th year of priesthood, 101-year-old Msgr. Vincent Foy was proud of his longevity, his loyalty and his defence of Catholic teaching.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

With a new vision guiding this year’s ShareLife campaign, the fundraising arm for the Archdiocese of Toronto charities, is hoping to secure more donations than ever to help those in need.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

Matt Fradd is challenging hundreds of youth in the Archdiocese of Toronto to seek authentic love.

Published in Youth Speak News