All community members are invited to St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church summer film series. Photo courtesy of Fr. Tom Gibbons

Courtyard movies reel ’em in at St. Peter’s

  • June 28, 2013

TORONTO - As the sun sets on St. Peter’s parish courtyard, the film rolls.

Courtyard movies is a new initiative to attract the downtown Toronto church’s neighbours — in a neighbourhood that is heavily populated with young adults — by hosting outdoor movie nights that will attract young families and a youthful audience.

Calling the Bathurst and Bloor area very secular, associate pastor Fr. Tom Gibbons says, “we live in a neighbourhood (in) which a lot of young adults do not go to church and are not even aware of our existence. One of the ideas behind the movie series is just to make ourselves more known,” adding that it’s also important for the church to be a good neighbour.

Gibbons calls this series pre-evangelization.

“We go into coffee shops and they’re hanging our signs... but they might not hang up our signs for Mass schedules,” he said. “We’ve gone out of our way to make ourselves available. So what happens is people come, they see a movie, people start knowing who St. Peter’s is and then when they get to a point in their lives, if many of them are looking for a parish, they have a good experience with us and they can give us a try.”

Courtyard movies run on select Fridays in the summer. The films roll at 8:30 and are free, with the help of local businesses, but donations are welcome. Popcorn, soda, candy and barbecue are for sale.

The summer film series was inspired by a movie night the church held last September with a turnout of about 200 people. Both recent and classic movies were chosen this year, not necessarily with a Catholic theme, said Gibbons.

The goal was to find films with a positive message, but with a broad enough appeal.

“For example, the Superman movie (with Christopher Reeves, 1978), which is the movie we started off with, that’s a classic and a lot of people came out for that, but we also wanted to do some films that have religious themes, films that were also popular in nature,” he said.

Les Misérables (2012), which played on June 7, and the original comedic classic Bedazzled (1967), which will play on July 5, are the two films with the most overtly Catholic themes. In Bedazzled, Stanley Moon sells his soul to the devil for seven wishes, but still has trouble winning over the girl of his dreams.

Gibbons adds that this film series is a good opportunity to add arts to the community and to “connect the church to some of the things people already value in their lives.” The series may be extended into September.

St. Peter’s other major community events include the flea market-style fall fair in the first week of October and the Winter Welcome Table in collaboration with St. Clare’s parish where about 100 to 120 homeless people are fed every Monday night during the winter months.

For more dates of this film series, visit

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