The Archdiocese of Toronto’s Catholic Family Services marked its 100th anniversary with a celebration and reception Nov. 17 at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Centre. Photo by Michael Swan

For 100 years, Catholic Family Services Toronto has followed in Christ’s path

  • November 25, 2022

The people who work at Catholic Family Services of Toronto aren’t the sort who celebrate themselves. So when the social workers, counsellors and their support staff came together Nov. 17 to celebrate a century of work with the poor and the distressed of Toronto, they were there “because of the people we serve,” Catholic Family Services counsellor Dominique Lemelin told The Catholic Register.

The 100 years of CFS history is simply a long sequence of days, weeks, months and years of responding to needs that often lurk below the surface of the city, Lemelin said.

“We’re ready with anything they need to grow,” she said.

No one should discount the value of a Catholic agency that delivers services to poor and struggling families, said Lemelin.

“They want their religion respected and they don’t get that everywhere,” she said.

The kind of advice and counselling Catholic Family Services offers wouldn’t necessarily be easy to access if not for CFS.

“Out in the community, it’s expensive,” she said.

Catholic Family Services ensures that no one is turned away because they can’t pay.

While it’s important that CFS services are professional, it’s also important because the social work agency is an expression of the Church’s mission, said Toronto Auxiliary Bishop Bob Kasun.

“It’s extremely important in the Church because it’s part of our identity. Even more, it’s part of our mission,” Kasun said at the Mass and reception which drew dozens of employees and former employees of Catholic Family Services. “It’s what Jesus did. He took care of needy people and He’s asked us to do the same. A huge part of the Gospels would include the exhortation to take care of the poor and others who are suffering.”

Preaching on the Book of Revelation, Cardinal Thomas Collins told the social workers their work makes the heavenly city of Jerusalem present, even when it feels like we’re stuck in a half-built, self-aggrandizing Babylon.

“We are citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, yet we are living in the world of affliction,” Collins said. “Always remember that when we finally meet the Lord our health, our wealth, our power, our talent, our beauty or whatever are all useless. All we have on the day we meet Him is the love we’ve given. That’s all we have. All that you do and all that has been done in over 100 years of Catholic Family Services has been a way of making a bit of, much of, the heavenly city of Jerusalem present in the midst of this city of discord and affliction.”

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