Cardinal Thomas Collins chose Blessed Fréderic Ozanam, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, as the name of a new parish in Markham, Ont., because he wanted a lesser known individual who was still an excellent example of the Catholic faith. Photo from Wikicommons

Anonymous donation another building block for parish

  • November 6, 2017
Blessed Frédéric Ozanam Parish still has a long way to go but it is one step closer to moving out of a gym and having a church of its own, thanks to the generosity of a Markham parishioner.

Named for the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam Parish in Markham received a $25,000 donation from an anonymous donor. The donation will go towards building the new church, which needs $4-5 million before construction can begin.

“I was so grateful,” said Fr. Joseph Grima, pastor at Blessed Ozanam. “He was anonymous, but he didn’t mind me calling him to say thank you. This gentleman did not know any of the details surrounding our needs, yet he was still so generous.”

Gifts of cash are one way parishioners can support the Church. Over the years, parishes have received everything from stocks and bonds to insurance benefits to personal property such as coin collections and works of art.

In the case of Blessed Ozanam, the donor lives in Markham and currently belongs to St. Patrick’s Parish.

Blessed Ozanam was created in September when St. Patrick’s, one of the largest parishes in the archdiocese, was divided.

The need for a new Catholic parish in Markham has been felt for many years and St. Patrick’s was beyond capacity. In June of 2017, the announcement was made by the archdiocese and Grima was appointed pastor on July 1.

“Cardinal (Thomas) Collins told me he wanted me to begin this new faith community,” said Grima, who previously served as a pastor at St. Francis de Sales in Ajax. “I’d never done anything of that sort before, but I told him, ‘If you think I am able, then absolutely.’ ”

Grima anticipates construction will begin in five to six years. In the meantime, his focus is on establishing a parish community.

“We are operating out of St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School and will continue to do so until we have a church of our own,” said Grima. “Right now we are holding Masses in the gymnasium.”

Collins broke tradition when he named Blessed Ozanam.

“Usually, the founding pastor submits three potential names that the Cardinal then chooses from,” said Grima. “In this case, His Eminence wanted a lesser known individual who was still an excellent example of the Catholic faith.”

The Cardinal decided on Blessed Frédéric Ozanam. A French lawyer in the 19th century, Ozanam dedicated his life to advocating for the poor and Catholic democracy in post-Revolution France. He founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 1833.

Grima is looking forward to someday holding Mass in the new church. He is also hoping Blessed Ozanam will someday be called St. Ozanam.

“People are slowly starting to hear about us,” said Grima. “We hope that someday soon the Catholic Church will canonize Blessed Ozanam. I think that would be very special.

“The vision he had of helping those in need is an inspiration to all of us. He was a lawyer but he didn’t mind getting his hands dirty when it came to helping the poor.”

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