Lent 2021

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15).

There is a stained-glass window in our church that has a little bit of interesting local history connected to it. It is the window in the choir-loft. This window is dedicated to the memory of John Wilson Murray. He was the first detective in the province of Ontario and was a member of our parish community who lived on Brunswick Avenue. He died in 1906. After he retired as the province’s first detective, he wrote his memoirs and they were published with the title, “Memoirs of a Great Detective: Incidents in the Life of John Wilson Murray.” The television show, The Murdoch Mysteries, is based upon his journals and the life of this early parishioner of St. Peter’s Parish.

Now the reason I am mentioning this at the beginning of Lent is not to tell you about The Murdoch Mysteries, but about the scene that is depicted in this window that is dedicated to the memory of John Wilson Murray. The scene in the window depicts the apostles John and Peter as they arrive at Jesus’ tomb, on the morning of the Resurrection, and discover that He is not to be found there. As John and Peter arrive at Jesus’ tomb after the Resurrection, this window shows them staring into a tomb that is pitch black. Even though Jesus had already risen to share eternal life with them, they do not know this. When they look into the tomb, which announces the Good News that Jesus has risen and destroyed death, Jesus himself is not there and the tomb is dark. The darkness within the tomb represents the reality that because they did not know what to expect of the Resurrection, they did not know where to look for Christ, and could not find Him where they expected Him to be—among the dead. As they were looking for Christ where He was not to be found, they saw only darkness and uncertainty in the empty tomb. The reality was, that something far exceeding their expectations was ahead of them.Continue Reading Lent 2021

Letter from Cardinal Thomas Collins for Marriage Sunday 2021

February 14, 2021

To Married Couples throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto,

As we celebrate Marriage Sunday in the Archdiocese of Toronto, I wish to congratulate and thank married couples who strengthen our community through their daily witness of love, commitment and selflessness. Your ongoing “yes” provides hope and inspiration for the community, strengthened by God’s grace and the love and prayers of family and friends.

We also extend our loving support to those who have lost a spouse or have experienced the pain and suffering of a broken relationship. If you are in need of assistance during these difficult days, I encourage you to seek out programs and resources in your own parish or throughout our diocese so that we may accompany you through the healing process.

To those assisting couples as they prepare for marriage and for those engaged in marriage enrichment programs or movements to support the sacrament of matrimony, be assured of my gratitude. Your ministry is essential in laying a foundation for healthy relationships and loving families, something so urgently needed in our world today.

A host of resources and additional information on Marriage Sunday can be found by visiting:  www.archtoronto.org/marriage or feel free to connect with your own parish community.

Thank you for all that you continue to do to value and enrich the sacrament of marriage in our homes and parishes, extending our love for one another to all those we encounter each and every day. May God continue to bless you now and always!  

Sincerely in Christ, 

Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto

Gratitude, Charity and Prayer

Those who know the kind of suffering and pain that Job endured might think that I am being a little overly dramatic to relate the sufferings experienced during the COVID 19 pandemic to the kind of tribulations and trials experienced by Job. However, as I hear Job state, “I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned me,” I cannot help but think of the way that many people have described the experience of the last few months.

It seems like a kind of general depression has overcome so many of us. People are worried about their jobs and how they will continue to provide for their families as this goes on. Many elderly people are alone and isolated. Even the young people that I speak to talk of how bored and tired they are with this whole situation. There is a kind of malaise that is overtaking everyone, and while we may not actually have suffered the really tragic losses that Job suffered, there is a sense of tiredness and depression that we know all too well as this pandemic drags on.Continue Reading Gratitude, Charity and Prayer

“O that today you would listen to the voice of the Lord. Do not harden your hearts.”

In this Sunday’s Gospel, as we begin to journey with Jesus in Mark’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus went to the synagogue in Capernaum with His disciples as He began His public ministry. In the synagogue, Jesus astounds those who have gathered with His teaching. However, what is perhaps the most surprising feature of His visit to the synagogue in Capernaum is the fact that it is an evil spirit that is the first to acknowledge who Jesus is. We hear this unclean spirit crying out as it is encountered by Jesus: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24).  Immediately, after the unclean spirit acknowledges who Jesus is, Jesus says to the unclean spirit: “Be quiet, and come out of him.” Mark tells us that in response to what Jesus says to the unclean spirit, immediately “the unclean spirit, convulsing the man and crying with a loud voice, came out of him” (Mark 1: 26).Continue Reading “O that today you would listen to the voice of the Lord. Do not harden your hearts.”

Introduction to the Gospel of Mark. “The Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the Good News.”

We begin reading today at Sunday Mass the Gospel of Mark. The Sunday readings are divided into three different annual cycles of readings. These have the names: “Year A”, Year B”, and “Year C.” In each of these years, the Church has us listen to one of the three Synoptic Gospels, which are Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Gospel of John, because it is dramatically different from these Synoptic Gospels, is read in portions in each of these three liturgical years. The Gospel of Mark is read in Year B, which is the liturgical year that we begin now. In the early Church, people thought that the Gospel of Matthew was the first to have been written. This is why the Gospels are ordered Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. However, today, Bible scholars think that the Gospel of Mark was written first and that it was used by both Matthew and Luke indirectly to write their Gospels. Because the three seem to have similar sources, they are called the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of John is so different that it is believed to have been based upon an entirely different set of traditions. For this reason it is not one of the Synoptic Gospels and is read each year in small portions. In fact because the Gospel of Mark is the shortest, this year, during Year B of the Lectionary, in the summer there are six weeks in which we read from chapter six, the bread of life discourse, from the Gospel of John.Continue Reading Introduction to the Gospel of Mark. “The Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the Good News.”

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will

When I was in my first few years of university, the last thing that I ever imagined that I would become was a priest. I hoped that I might become a lawyer or perhaps teach political science at a university. Happily, I loved studying, so none of these were impossible goals. I was even so blessed in my studies that I was able to get good grades while at the same time doing a lot of the partying that young people away from home for the first time can get lost in. I think it was all of the “good times” that I was experiencing that made me sense that something was missing. Even though I was going out a great deal, and often waking-up hung-over, I found that something was missing in my life. I sensed a deep lack of meaning and began to question what my own life might be about.Continue Reading Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will

Baptized and Confirmed, We Are All Of Us Anointed as Members of the Body of Christ—Called to Stewardship

Over the years, I have had many people ask me a very simple question when we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. That question is: “Why was Jesus baptized?  If Jesus is sinless and the Son of God made flesh, why does He need to be baptized?”

The reason why Jesus chooses to be baptized is connected with who Jesus is. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus has become one of us in order to show us the way to salvation and how we are to live in order to be saved.  He is baptized, in order to show us that it is through Baptism that we are called to share in the life of the Holy Trinity. Jesus is anointed by the Holy Spirit before he begins His public ministry in order to show us that when we are anointed by the Spirit in the Sacraments of Initiation, we too share in His mission. Just as in Baptism, the Father declares Jesus to be His beloved Son, so too through our Baptisms the Father claims us to be His beloved sons and daughters. As Jesus took up His ministry after His Baptism and anointing by the Spirit, so too each one of us is given a mission within the Church through our Baptism and anointing at Confirmation.Continue Reading Baptized and Confirmed, We Are All Of Us Anointed as Members of the Body of Christ—Called to Stewardship

Mary—Model of the Blessed Life

One of the things about being here at St. Peter’s Parish that I find a little funny at times, is that often I will be walking along Bathurst, in front of the Church, and as I do so someone will roll down their car window, and stop me on Bathurst Street, to demand that I give them a blessing as they are driving by on the street. My first inclination is to try to have a conversation with them to find out what they think that a blessing signifies. However, as the traffic is often heavy and they are in a hurry, they frequently get a little angry with me and demand that I stop my small talk and quickly give them the blessing that they are seeking before they drive off. These experiences have helped me to realize that many people may not even know what a “blessing” signifies or be aware of what is required for a blessing to really be of any value.Continue Reading Mary—Model of the Blessed Life

Every Family is Sacred!!

Every year, on the first Sunday following Christmas, the Church celebrates the beautiful feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The purpose of this beautiful feast is to remind each and every one of us that the most important place where we are to encounter God’s love for us is within the family. Like all of us, Jesus was born into a human family so that we might all be reminded that it is first and foremost within the family that we are to make Christ’s love present to our brothers and sisters and where we are to encounter the love and acceptance that we all desire and long to know. This beautiful feast is to remind all of us that every family—mine and yours—is a sacred place where God’s love is to be encountered.Continue Reading Every Family is Sacred!!

Christmas 2020

My Dear Sister and Brothers in Christ, the Parishioners of St. Peter’s Parish:

The first Christmas was one like no other. Mary and Joseph were required by Caesar to leave their home and travel to register in Bethlehem. This caused them to be isolated from their family and loved ones at an important moment in their lives. They were confronted with loneliness, fear and isolation. Despite these difficult times, the Christ child, Emanuel, was born into their family. Through the kindness of others, the charity and compassion of the Shepherds and Wise Men, they came through this difficult situation. This unique Christmas changed history.

This Christmas 2020 is like none that any of us have ever experienced before. Many will celebrate without family and friends. Isolation and loneliness will be experienced by many people. Despite the difficulties we will all experience this Christmas, we are invited to allow the Christ child into our hearts and homes. By reaching out to those who are lonely, caring for the needy and showing compassion to others, we can each imitate the example of the Shepherds and Wise Men who welcomed Christ and help make Him present to our brothers and sisters at this difficult time.

This is a Christmas for all of us to find new ways of encountering Christ through acts of charity, compassion and generosity. I believe the Lord is inviting all of us this Christmas to challenge ourselves to act in such a way that we might bring Christ’s love to others in these difficult and unprecedented circumstances. This year, it is up to each of us to make this Christmas different by reaching out to others through our own acts of kindness, charity and compassion. Please reach out to someone.

I wish to thank all of you for the support that you have given to our parish community through this very difficult and challenging year. Whatever support you are able to give this Christmas, is greatly appreciated and much needed.

On behalf of our entire parish community and staff, I would like to wish you, all your friends and loved ones a very blessed Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year in 2021.

On Christmas Eve and Day, no matter how we are able to celebrate it this year, at all of the parish’s Christmas Masses, I will remember, with profound gratitude, the intentions of all the loved ones and family members of the parishioners of St. Peters Parish.

May God bless you and your families this Christmas and throughout 2021.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Rev. Michael McGourty

P.S. This Christmas, due to the lockdown in the City of Toronto, there will be no publicly celebrated Masses. On Christmas Eve, the church will be open from 5:00 to 10:00 pm and the Eucharist will be distributed every 15 minutes. Due to capacity limits, only eight (8) people can be admitted to the church at a time. On Christmas Day, the church will be open from 9:00 am until noon. Again, the Eucharist will be distributed every 15 minutes and only eight (8) people can be admitted to the church at a time. The number eight (8) is due to the fact that the parish priest and volunteer at the door also count as part of the ten (10) people who are permitted in the building at a time.