Basilian superior general Fr. George Smith. Photo by Michael Swan

Toronto's Out of the Cold program turns 25

  • April 23, 2012

TORONTO - Out of the Cold has been a success for 25 years, serving the homeless and hungry in 22 locations around the city with the help of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faith communities. But co-founder Sr. Susan Morin wishes it had never been necessary.

“It’s not the answer,” Morin told people gathered April 28 to remember Out of the Cold co-founder Fr. John Murphy of the Basilians. “There shouldn’t be so many hungry people. There shouldn’t be people without shelter.”

Morin of Our Lady’s Missionaries, Murphy and three students of St. Michael’s College School launched Out of the Cold in 1987 after students had found George, a homeless man, dead on school property one cold winter morning in 1986. Murphy, a former chaplain and religion teacher at St. Michael’s, died Sept. 18, 2011.

“It would never be where it is today without the students,” said Morin at the service in the St. Michael’s College School chapel. “They were 15, 16 and 17.”

“A healthy city of Toronto includes a strong faith community that reminds us of the need to be compassionate to the poor,” said Toronto city councillor Joe Mihevc.

There’s more to Out of the Cold than volunteers and church basements, said Basilian superior general Fr. George Smith.

“We can call it a movement on behalf of the kingdom of God,” he said. “I can’t imagine a more powerful, more profound or unadulterated example of pure goodness than the Out of the Cold. It’s a tremendous inspiration.”

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