Funds raised at Catholic Missions In Canada’s Tastes of Heaven gala go to fund mission communities like Black Lake, Sask., and Our Lady of the Cape Parish. Photo courtesy Catholic Missions In Canada

Tastes of Heaven fundraiser travels back in time

  • April 14, 2023

Catholic Missions In Canada’s (CMIC) annual Tastes of Heaven Gala on April 27 is set to have a time machine effect in more way than one.

Not only is CMIC renewing its tradition by hosting this event in an in-person format for the first time since the pre-pandemic years, this night at the Bellvue Manor in Vaughan, Ont., promises to be an ode to the 1940s.

Attendees will enjoy a ’40s style menu of Beef Wellington, Waldorf Salad, consommé and a “surprise dessert feature,” teased Joe Gennaro, CMIC’s stewardship officer. The dining hall will also feature the brassy, percussive and woodwind sounds of the Toronto All-Star Big Band.

However, the true spotlight attraction of this gala, like always, is a presentation showcasing the work of Catholic missionaries across every province and territory. The goal to raise $250,000 to support CMIC grants. According to the CMIC website, $97,680 of that sum had already been raised as of April 6.

“In 2023, Catholic Missions In Canada will be dispersing almost $5 million in grants,” said Gennaro. “These grants always consist of a variety of things, the bulk of which is always missionary sustenance, which is the missionary’s food, gas, housing, insurance, vehicle insurance and so on and so forth. It also goes to lay formation, church repairs, seminarian bursaries and the like.”

New Toronto Archbishop Francis Leo is “99 per cent confirmed” to be a speaker at the Tastes of Heaven gala, said Gennaro. Leo’s predecessor, Cardinal Thomas Collins, was recognized as a devoted advocate of the CMIC vision and mission during his 15 years guiding Canada’s largest Catholic diocese.

“Cardinal Collins loved our initiative,” said Gennaro. “He was a great supporter who backed us whenever he could. With everything we’ve heard we expect the new archbishop to be just as supportive.”

Following tradition, CMIC will honour a missionary with the St. Philip Neri Award. St. Philip Neri is regarded as the patron saint of the agency. This year’s recipient is 87-year-old Sr. Margaret Sadler, who serves the Sisters of the Child Jesus (SEJ) in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. The SEJ works to enliven and deepen others’ faith through teaching RCIA and RCIC, visiting the sick, isolated and imprisoned, offering accompaniment and bereavement and being present to First Nations communities. 

A specific goal of the CMIC team in advance of the gala is imploring donors and sponsors to bring individuals to the gala who have never been to the event or never heard of the non-profit. Gennaro shared the message he has for these newcomers.

“What we want to do is inform them the vast majority of our country from an area perspective is far more underserved than the major populated centres. The things we take for granted like communion, daily Mass, confirmation, baptism and so on are not held as frequently. Oftentimes, in remote areas people do not see a priest for over a month. They will not receive communion longer than that,” he said.

“We need to make people understand that in order to keep the Catholic faith alive from sea to sea to sea as we say, we need their help and involvement in any way they can.”

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