Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins celebrates Mass March 4 for the first live Lift Jesus Higher Rally since the pandemic first hit in 2020. The event drew 2,600 celebrants to downtown Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre. Photo by Suresh Dominic

Lift Jesus Higher Rally goes live

By  Angelica Vecchiato, Register Correspondent
  • March 9, 2023

The crowds returned for the first in-person Lift Jesus Higher Rally since March 2020, filling the Metro Convention Centre in downtown Toronto.

Organizers say 2,600 people made their way downtown for praise and worship, faith-filled talks and an evening Mass celebrated by Cardinal Thomas Collins March 4. 

Suresh Dominic, one of the rally’s main organizers, said this year’s in-person element crafted a meaningful ambience for participants.

“The rally has always been a great success because people are constantly thirsting to celebrate their faith and to be enriched by music and liturgy,” said Dominic, director of Gethsemane Ministries. 

“This year, however, people were finally able to thrust fear of COVID-19 from their hearts and experience true Catholic fellowship filled with the Holy Spirit.”  

For the past two years, the rally — like so many other large-scale Catholic events — crossed the floor to the digital realm due to on and off pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. Although Dominic noted that the online component of the rally was a vessel to draw international participants, he maintained that “in-person is far better than online.”

“This year we had a huge lineup of people going to confession. The in-person Mass was enriching because it had a completely different dimension with people actively participating in it. These things cannot be done in an online event,” he said.

Lift Jesus Higher, in partnership with Catholic organizations like EWTN, Renewal Ministries and Gethsemane Ministries, hosted two events on the same day at the Convention Centre — one tailored for an adult crowd and another for youth between the ages of 13 and 18. Speakers came from diverse ministry backgrounds like Catholic Christian Outreach co-founder Angèle Regnier, Real Life Catholic founder Chris Steffanick and Yes Catholic founder David Patterson. 

Mother Angelus from the Sisters Servants of the Lord & the Virgin of Matara, an order founded in 1988 by Argentinian priest Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela that draws its spirituality from the mystery of the Incarnation, leads a youth group at the Toronto’s St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish. She brought seven members from the youth group to the rally. 

“The rally spoke to our youth and gave them deeper insight into the daily life of living out the faith with all of its challenges,” said Mother Angelus, a Catholic convert.

Anthony Perez, who helps facilitate programming at St. Augustine, was particularly moved by the testimony of Patterson.

“His stories are super relatable and his personality was really shown and felt throughout his talk and stories. I mean the emotion and sincerity he showed was heart-touching for me,” said the 22-year-old. 

Although there were initial concerns with the planning, Dominic said the event went off without a hitch.

“We were praying and hoping. We trusted that the Lord would bring people and it just happened,” he said. 

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