Fr. Massey Lombardi sits with a few children clad in the traditional garments of their heritage following the Oct. 14 Mass that kicked off the Year of Faith at Toronto’s St. Wilfrid’s parish. Photo by Evan Boudreau

St. Wilfrid’s opens a diverse Year of Faith

  • October 21, 2012

TORONTO - The Year of Faith kicked off Oct. 14 in a multicultural way for one of the most culturally diverse parishes in a city known for its cultural diversity.

At the noon Mass, St. Wilfrid’s Church in northwest Toronto joined other parishes across the archdiocese in kicking off the Year of Faith, but in a way that reflects the face of its parishioners.

“The Year of Faith was inspiration the Church received to reflect on our faith but also on our diversity,” Fr. Massey Lombardi told those gathered.

“There’s about 45 different languages in this parish but I would think if you went to other parishes in the city you would find the same thing.”

To celebrate the cultural melting pot that is his parish and city, Lombardi hung about 40 miniature flags on the walls surrounding the altar. These flags represent the heritage of the parishioners who attend his services weekly. On this Sunday the church, brightened by the colourful attire worn by many, was filled beyond its 1,000-occupancy capacity with parishioners lining the back wall and spilling out into the foyer.

“Those flags are going to stay up all year and we are going to have programs that speak of the diversity,” said Lombardi. “This parish here is very diverse and we want to celebrate that. It’s really trying to build an understanding of cultures and respect.”

Fol lowing communion Lombardi invited parishioners to offer a sign of peace and recite the Our Father in their native language. After the service parishioners headed to the parish hall to sample lunch dishes as diverse as the cultural attire they donned, sharing their diversity as one community.

“It’s both a joining together and sharing food and there is nothing like joining together to share food,” said Lombardi.

Lombardi said plans are in the works to expand this all-encompasing atmosphere outside of the church’s walls.

On Oct. 21 the parish will dedicate a statue to St. Padre Pio.

“This is really a segue into all the other things we can do in terms of our liturgy, in terms of our practice, our programs, but also in terms of our outreach to the poor, sick and the marginalized in our community,” said Lombardi. “Faith is not faith in the vacuum, it’s promoted, it’s increased, it’s deepened through cultures.”

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