A year of celebrations will mark the centenary

  • September 1, 2013

When you consider the gifts St. Augustine’s Seminary has given the local Church, there is plenty to celebrate, says Fr. John-Mark Missio, co-ordinator of the seminary’s 100th anniversary liturgical celebrations. In fact, it’s something the entire Church should celebrate.

“We see how much God has blessed us over 100 years of faith seeking understanding,” said Missio. “That’s what theology is, faith seeking understanding. And we think of the growth of the Church in Toronto, and the growth of the understanding of the faith, and how the seminary has had a key role to play in that.”

Over the next year, the centenary will be celebrated with several events for clergy, educators and the public that will feature liturgical celebrations and festivities with Canadian and international Church luminaries. It all begins on Sept. 5 with an invitation-only Mass at St. Augustine’s followed by dinner “for various dignitaries.” Thirty-two bishops are expected to attend.

A larger celebration will be held Sept. 25 for St. Augustine’s alumni. It will feature a Mass open to the public at St. Michael’s Cathedral where the main celebrant and homilist will be Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela, the only living cardinal alumnus of St. Augustine’s. He studied in Toronto before being ordained in 1967.

Next up will be a Mass and dinner for the permanent deacons’ alumni to be held on Nov. 16, with speaker Deacon Joseph Michalak from St. Paul’s Seminary in Minnesota.

January will bring a joint event for seminarians from St. Augustine’s and St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ont., which celebrated its centenary in 2012. The celebrations will continue at the annual Ordinandi dinner in March, followed in April by the launch of a book of essays by seminary faculty. In May there will be a theology workshop for Catholic educators.

The main public event is being planned for June 1. Plans are in the works for an open house and a large outdoor Mass on the grounds of St. Augustine’s. It will be held in conjunction with ShareLife and Catholic Charities.

“We’re supported by donations from the people of the Church in Toronto, so we’re going to invite all the ShareLife agencies and have this celebration with them,” said Missio.

Then centenary celebrations become international July 7 to 10 with a preaching conference for clergy that will bring together speakers from Canada and the United States.

“You know how important preaching is in the life of the Church, the life of priests, ministers, leaders and for the New Evangelization, said Missio.”

The culminating event will be the Aug. 5 to 7. Called Faith in the Public Square, it is a registration-required event that will feature several speakers, including Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, Cardinal George Pell from Sydney, Australia, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, as well as other prominent speakers with academic, legal and media backgrounds.

“It’s an important reflection for the year of faith in the face of a growing secularism,” said Missio. “One of the most important things we can do is learn how to be better witnesses through our society. When we speak of the public square, we’re speaking of talking about our faith in the political arena, in the media. Not only the private aspects of what we do in our prayer life or what we do in our churches but what we do publicly as Christians is of prime importance.

“This is a really huge event. We think it is a very fitting way to end it all.”

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