Canadian immigrant starts Catholic lay movement

  • June 5, 2007
TORONTO - More than 100 children, teens and young adults gather for a prayer meeting every Friday at St. Basil the Great High School in North York. Members drive in from as far away as Waterloo and Hamilton on a weekly basis.




“I grew up in Gethsemane Ministries,” said Michael Fonseca of Scarborough, a volunteer youth music leader for Gethsemane Ministry.

Gethsemane Ministries

Name: Gethsemane Ministries.

Origin: Founded in 1997 by Suresh Dominic.

Canadian Locations: prayer groups in Toronto, Hamilton and Kitchener and two American groups in Columbus, Georgia, and Rochester, N.Y.

Charism: evangelization and prayer.

Outreach: Friday night youth meeting 7 to 9 p.m., at St. Basil the Great High School, 20 Starview Lane, in North York. Annual five-day summer camp and four-day March Break retreat at the Salvation Army Conference Centre in Jackson’s Point, Ont., for ages 13 and up. Attend the annual Lift Jesus Higher Rally in Toronto. Youth provide music at the annual March for Life in Ottawa.

Contact: Suresh Dominic (416) 737-9573 or visit .

Fonseca, 27, moved to Canada with his parents and three siblings from Chennai, India, in 1996 and joined the movement two years later at the age of 18.

The Fonseca family was among the first members to join Gethsemane Ministries in 1997. It has since developed into a recognized lay movement within the archdiocese of Toronto.

“We bring families together — that’s the whole family including the children. We’re not losing sight of the fact that children should be growing up with the faith,” said founder and director Suresh Dominic, 48.

Dominic, originally from Kerala, India, lived in Saudi Arabia for 17 years before moving to Ontario 10 years ago. He was raised Catholic but he didn’t fully embrace his faith until he moved to Saudi Arabia where he had a close encounter with God.

In Saudi Arabia “there is no freedom to practise your faith and that’s where the Lord called me to be an evangelizer,” said Dominic.

When Dominic moved to Canada with his wife and children, he came with a strong desire to continue evangelizing.

“Our whole goal is to evangelize by proclaiming the word of God and through personal testimonies about our faith,” said Dominic.

Fonseca shares his own personal testimony with the youth he ministers to.

“I’ve come to a point where I have a personal relationship with Jesus, He’s not a God that’s far away, He’s there every day,” said Fonseca, a graphic designer who will become a father for the first time this summer. “We try to encourage the kids that He’s an everyday friend and to make Jesus more real in their lives.”

Each Friday youth gathering starts with a half-hour of praise and worship, followed by a Bible teaching. The youth share testimonies about their spiritual experience and receive 30 minutes of catechesis.

Fonseca said Gethsemane Ministry is charismatic and always incorporates the powers of the Holy Spirit in prayer.

“If you pray and have a youth group to go to, it doesn’t make you any less cool than anyone else. We are trying to break that stereotype. We want them to stand up and be strong.”

While the ministry is not specifically for Indians, a large majority is of Indian heritage. Dominic said he’s always looking to expand.

Suresh said he encourages members to get involved with their parish ministries so that the movement complements rather than takes away from parish involvement.

“I’m a lector in my parish and my son is 19, he still continues to (altar) serve in the parish.... The majority of our members are active in their parish in one way or another.”

While Dominic works full-time for the pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition he dreams of one day working full-time for Gethsemane Ministries.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.