Toronto’s Archbishop Francis Leo, the new Apostolic Chancellor of Catholic Missions In Canada, speaks during a special luncheon May 25 following CMIC’s annual St. Philip Neri Mass. Photo courtesy Catholic Missions In Canada

Archbishop Leo toasts CMIC for 115 years of service

  • June 2, 2023

Toronto Archbishop Francis Leo fondly recalled his childhood encounters with missionaries.

“We saw people coming from different countries and telling us about how they gave of their life to help others,” said Leo, speaking during a special luncheon that followed the annual St. Philip Neri Mass on May 25 at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. “I saw they were happy people. Their lives were filled with joy because they learned it was not about being a taker but a giver.

“Their whole lives were giving. They gave love, understanding, forgiveness — everything they had.”

Leo, the new Apostolic Chancellor of Catholic Missions In Canada (CMIC), toasted the non-profit for operating in this spirit for 115 years since its 1908 inception as The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada. He also praised the organization for evangelizing across the vast terrain of Canada. Leo said the CMIC is following the model of its patron, St. Philip Neri (1515-1595), who embraced aiding the people of his community.

“He wanted to go to the missions, foreign,” said Leo. “The Pope said, ‘Listen, stay in Rome and be a missionary in Italy.’ He went looking for the lost sheep in the city. He saw that the children in the city needed someone to take care of them. He saw that the poor, and people with no education, needed someone to take care of them. He had that generosity of heart — that missionary heart.”

Devout commitment to prayer played a decisive role in shaping the “Second Apostle of Rome’s” earnest desire to serve, said Leo.

“Prayer allows God to open — stretch — our heart to be able to receive. The more we receive, the more capable we are of giving.”

The archbishop, celebrating his 27th year as a priest, remarked on how “blessed we are to be able to make a difference in people’s lives, even by a smile, telephone call, a visit or word of encouragement. We don’t know how far these things go.”

Leo also said at a time in our world where we are defined by our differences, we are all “children of Almighty God.”

“In that unity, we can make a big difference, a big impact in this world that is divided, wounded and in so much need of healing and unity,” said Leo. “We can make that difference by living out our vocation as children of God, as members of the Church and by taking care of each other.”

Complementing his passion for kinship with his brothers and sisters of Christ on Earth, Leo said he reflects on connectedness from a “supernatural perspective.”

“We’re connected with God, always. We’re connected with the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints, the souls in purgatory and connected amongst each other on Earth. When we pray, God can take our prayers and bless someone across the world who needs prayers right now. We don’t know how. One day we will see how it all comes together. It’s all connected.”

Until that day comes when the Lord reveals all to His children, Leo said he prescribes to each of us to seek opportunities every day to “spread God’s Kingdom.”

“At the end of the day, how beautiful is it to say, ‘wow, this morning, afternoon (and) evening, how many opportunities I was given to pour more love, joy, beauty and truth into the world.”

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