Fr. Peter Jae Choi

Parish beats Family of Faith goal — by 3,000 per cent

  • February 27, 2016

VAUGHAN, ONT. - A parish so new it doesn’t even have a church was asked to raise a modest $30,000 in the Family of Faith campaign. Instead it raked in more than $1 million.

Barely two years in existence, St. Andre Bessette parish is already 3,000-per-cent ahead of its target — and counting.

“I think we’re probably going to go up to, I’m hoping, $1.8 million, so we’re probably going to be at 6,000 per cent when we’re done,” said pastor Fr. Peter Jae Choi.

The parish, founded on Sept. 8, 2013, has plans for a new church and hall but must raise at least $2 million before it breaks the ground on Phase 1 of the project, Choi said.

Of the $1-million-plus raised so far in the Family of Faith campaign, the parish will keep about $750,000, with the rest going to the Archdiocese of Toronto, under the campaign’s funding formula.

“We’re hoping to have a total of $2.5 million and we can build our own parish hall for us to gather for worship and various parish activities,” said Choi. “The second phase will be the church and we’re talking about $8 (million) or $9 million minimum.”

For now, the parish gathers every Sunday in the St. Cecilia Catholic Elementary School gym.

Choi said the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Family of Faith campaign has generated awareness and a sense of urgency in the community to raise as much money as it can.

About half of the funds have come from 60 individual donors within the parish and the other half from one anonymous donor’s matching pledge.

Two high schools and two elementary schools within the parish’s neighbourhood are also contributing to the parish campaign by holding fundraising events.

Choi said the parish is full of young families. On its first Sunday, the parish welcomed about 200 families. Today, the parish welcomes up to 800 families. The parish’s spiritual life is focused on family life and young people.

About 50-80 children are present for Children’s Liturgy every week. The parish also organizes summer camps in July and August. Choi said there is also a vibrant IGNITE youth group for students in Grades 6 through 8 that meets every Friday evening. The program is run by the parish’s youth minister, Stefania Lista, who was hired by the parish through the Family of Faith campaign.

“We’re very grateful that we’re on the receiving end,” said Choi. “Because we are a young and vibrant community, for me to be able to do everything is practically impossible.”

The Family of Faith campaign, launched in May 2014, set out to raise at least $105 million to provide financial resources to support various projects in the archdiocese’s pastoral plan and its 225 parishes. It is well past that goal. By mid-February, the campaign had raised $160.5 million in pledges.

Major initiatives under the pastoral plan include $20 million towards building new churches and $26 million towards growing parish life and local projects. About $10 million has also been allocated toward building youth and young adult ministry.

Parishes retain 25 per cent of the funds raised, with the rest going to the archdiocese, until its goal is reached. After that, 75 per cent of every dollar raised goes directly to the parish.

More information about the Family of Faith campaign can be found at

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