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Grade 5 students from St. Maria Goretti supplied the music for the unveiling of the CCAS’s new offices. Michael Swan

New start in historic year

  • December 28, 2019

For the nearly 6,000 children a year who find refuge and a new start with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, the fact the organization has a 125-year history probably doesn’t matter much.

They probably don’t care, either, about the new offices in Scarborough that have brought all the social workers and support staff under one roof while cutting the agency’s overhead.

But at a blessing of the new offices and chapel and commemoration of the CCAS’s 125th anniversary on Dec. 17, foster parent and former foster child Janelle Younge put her finger on what matters to the children the agency serves.

“Lives are being changed here,” she told about 180 guests who showed up for the day of celebration and solemn blessing.

Younge was 14 when she came into the Catholic Children’s Aid Society’s care. Under the mentorship of CCAS case workers, she went onto a graduate degree in social work, two decades of advocacy for youth in care, raising her own 11-year-old daughter and fostering children herself.

“All these workers have not only big hearts but incredible strength,” she said.

For Younge, the 125-year history is not a dusty exercise in sifting through archives, because she carries a piece of that history in her continuing life story.

“This certainly was personal for me,” Younge said.

In blessing the new chapel of the CCAS headquarters in midtown Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins also stressed the personal.

“It is that personal, divine sign of the love of God amongst us that is the reason for the Catholic Children’s Aid. Each person is precious, and each person is to be treated as someone who is loved by God and loved by those around us,” Collins said. “It is a sacred mission, which is engaged by everyone who works in any way in Catholic Children’s Aid of Toronto.”

Beginning as a volunteer society with one employee under the patronage of Bishop John Walsh in October 1894, the CCAS has evolved from the St. Vincent de Paul Children’s Aid Society to one of the largest agencies in Canada serving children and families.

The new headquarters still doesn’t have a sign installed out front, but executive director Mark Kartusch is looking forward to its arrival.

“It’s going to say, ‘All are welcome,’ because that is what we’re all about,” Kartusch said.

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