Catholic share the faith at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square

  • May 19, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Nearly a thousand Catholics flooded Toronto's Dundas Square on May 17, rosaries in hand, heads bowed or arms raised for their most public event since World Youth Day 2002.

"It's hard to put into words," said Paul Klotz, a parishioner of St. Michael's Cathedral. "(Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins) showed us that in praying a little and reading a little you can learn so much more than by just reading the Bible (by itself)."

Klotz was one of hundreds who sat in Toronto's most public square at Yonge and Dundas Streets to pray, to hear church teachings proclaimed and to sing along or listen to prominent Catholic musicians. Thousands of others caught bits and pieces as they wandered by, stopping to see what had drawn so many other people.

The public event began at 3 p.m. with the rosary led by Fr. Robert Mignella and a concert by Ana DaCosta and the Susan Hookong-Taylor Band, whose songs were featured during World Youth Day 2002. Following their performance, Collins led the public in Lectio Divina, reading from Acts 17:16-34, in which St. Paul preached the Gospel message to the Athenians in their public square and warned them about false idols. From 7-9 p.m. the crowd enjoyed a free concert by Catholic contemporary musician Matt Maher.

As he read from a little black Bible, Collins finished his hour-long presentation by reflecting out loud on the importance of repentance, of accountability and of getting ready to meet the Lord. He said religion should challenge us.

“Don't regret the past, just say Lord, help me to live day by day,” he said.

Klotz enjoyed the bishop's talk with his wife Renata, who said the archbishop’s reflections were an impetus for them to pray more as a couple. And the location provided a push to be more open about their faith.

“The only square I’ve ever prayed in public was St. Peter’s Square and I thought that was the only square I would ever feel comfortable praying in,” Renata said. “But it's good to have us out in the public. We need to be visible too.”

She said the archbishop's reflection gave them courage to become more knowledgable.

“The city is full of idols and people are groping for God though they might not know it,” said Paul. “But like St. Paul, and the archbishop, we must not debate but discuss in a non-confrontational way. Some people will scoff, like in Scripture, but some will be won over.”

Melodie Gabriel, 28, arrived excited to hear Maher perform for the evening portion of the archdiocesan event. Maher is well-known for his contemporary praise and worship style developed while working for Lifeteen, a youth ministry organization in the United States. Gabriel, an Ottawa-based staff member of N.E.T. Ministries, which uses the Lifeteen program, was excited to see the Canadian artist performing in her hometown.

“I grew up in Toronto and to be honest, there haven't been a lot of opportunities for Catholic artists to perform in Dundas Square. To have a prominent Catholic artist, or even just the archbishop, in Dundas Square is rare,” she said.

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