“God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in Him might not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16)

This past Pentecost weekend, as I was working in the parish office at Bathurst and Bloor, just before celebrating the Vigil Mass for Pentecost, I could not help wandering about the humming sound of helicopters that were hovering over the area. It struck me as strange that these helicopters seemed so close and seemed for such a long period of time to remain in one spot. As they remained in one place, I also noticed the approach of what seemed like a huge roaring crowd. As I went outside to investigate what was taking place, I was astonished to see thousands of men and women of every race, colour and nationality passing by on Bloor Street to protest against racism. The helicopters were following the crowds that had gathered at Christie Park and were following them as they marched along Bloor Street. I couldn’t help but think, what a beautiful sight on Pentecost—people of all nations marching to speak of the value of every human being, created in the image and likeness of God. I have often felt that Pentecost was a solemnity  of special value for us here in Toronto as it marks that solemnity on which the Holy Spirit was sent to the disciples so that they could go out to bring the Good News of salvation to people of every colour and nationality. Here in Toronto, we see the Church, as all of God’s people, from every land and nation, of every colour and nationality. In fact, the very word “catholic” means “universal” and refers to the love that God has for all His people. As one bumper sticker I recently saw expressed so beautifully, “Racism is about sin, not the colour of skin.” Continue reading

Pentecost 2020

The reading from the Gospel of John for this Pentecost Sunday, the last day of the Easter Season, takes us back to Easter Sunday, the day on which this Season began. It begins with the words: “It was evening on the day Jesus rose from the dead, the first day of the week.” These words situate this scene, like so many of the Gospel stories that we have heard on the Sundays throughout the Easter Season on Sunday, on the day Jesus rose from the dead. Whether it was the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, or the story of Doubting Thomas, so many of the stories that we have heard throughout the Easter Season, have focused our attention on the fact that Christ appeared to his disciples after His resurrection as they were gathered together on a Sunday. One of my favorite reminders of the importance of Sunday is actually that which we heard in the story from the Gospel of Luke, with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Here, like today’s Gospel story, Jesus appears to His disciples on a Sunday and celebrates with them that memorial supper that He asked them to celebrate in memory of Him. This emphasis that we hear over and over again throughout the Easter Season on the importance of Sunday, is a powerful reminder to all of us that this is the day that Jesus rose from the dead. It is the day He invites us to celebrate together and be reminded of who we are as His people. Continue reading

In Memoriam: Paulist Fr. Rich Colgan (1952 – 2020)

With great sadness, we announce that Paulist Fr. Richard Colgan has entered eternal life. 

Fr. Rich died at 11:45 p.m. on Monday, May 25, 2020, at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., of complications from COVID-19. He was the first Paulist Father to die as a result of the coronavirus.  

In 1991, Fr. Rich moved to Toronto, Canada. In 1992 and 1993, he served there at St. Peter’s Church and Toronto’s Catholic Information Center. In Autumn 2008, he returned to Toronto where he became pastor of St. Peter’s Church. He served in that role until becoming director of novices for the Paulist Fathers in 2011.  Click here to learn more about Fr. Rich. 

The Solemnity of the Ascension: Disciples Sent to Build the Church in a COVID 19 World

In the days following Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples of Jesus locked themselves away in self-isolation for fear that the Romans and Jews might arrest them for being followers of Jesus. This self-isolation was very similar to that which many people today have had to experience. Throughout the entire time of the disciples’ isolation, Jesus appeared to His disciples and strengthened them with assurances of His resurrection, peace, and the gift of the Holy Spirit by which He would always be present in their lives.

Today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension, we see that a huge change takes place in the life of the Apostles and disciples. We are given a hint as to what the nature of this change might be in the first line of this Sunday’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, as we read: “In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day He was taken up to Heaven” (Acts 1:1). Up until this time, the story of the Church was basically the story of the disciples as they lived and physically walked with Jesus. While He was with them, Jesus lead the way and was in charge. The disciples lived with Jesus and did not need to take responsibility for the community of the believers or the direction that community might go. Jesus’ ascension into heaven marks a new beginning for the life of believers. They will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and the disciples of the Lord will be called upon to take responsibility for the Church as they are directed in the world by the Holy Spirit as to how to serve the Lord in different situations. This new responsibility of discipleship is also sometimes called stewardship. Continue reading

Communities that Love Christ, remaining Apart to Love One Another

Over the past few weeks, I have made an effort, like so many other pastors throughout the Archdiocese, to call all of the parishioners of the parish. This week, I finally made it through all 412 pages of the parish directory. As I spoke with many of our parishioners, I was struck by the efforts that so many people were making to stay away from their loved ones so that they could keep them safe. This was particularly true last weekend as we celebrated Mother’s Day. Many people told me that they were planning on doing something for their mothers that would show their love for them by somehow staying away and keeping a distance. This is something that many people are doing for their loved ones as they leave groceries on the front step, wave through the window to a loved one in a nursing home, or send a virtual kiss or hug over the internet. We are keeping away from our loved ones because this is the loving thing to do at this time and this is how we can keep them safe. Continue reading

“Do not let your hearts be troubled….I am the way, and the truth and the life,” says the Lord. Turning to Jesus in the Midst of the COVID 19 Pandemic

At the Bathurst Street entrance to St. Peter’s Church, there are two very meaningful plaques on the wall of the building. These plaques are similar to many others that are found in some of our older churches. One of these is dedicated to the memory of all of the parishioners who gave their lives to serve our country in the Great World Wars. It lists the names of the parishioners who died for our country in the last century. The other plaque is dedicated to the memory of Anna Warde, a fourteen-year-old girl who heroically drowned on July 14th, 1904 trying to save another young person while swimming on vacation. I have been thinking about these two plaques quite a bit these last few weeks. They are a powerful reminder of the difficult times that the Church has lived through. Our own community, and many others in the country, has survived the Great World Wars of the last century, the Great Depression and the Spanish flu. Many of our families have survived painful losses, like that of the Warde family and their daughter Anna. Throughout all of these challenges and difficulties, we have turned to Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life of all believers. His love and grace, and promise that there are many rooms in His Father’s house, gives all of us the courage to continue in hope and faith. Just as Jesus has strengthened our community, and the universal Church, throughout the difficulties of the past; so too He is with us today and invites us to turn to Him to trust Him to be with us today. In the words of this Sunday’s beautiful Psalm Response, today’s situation invites all of us to call on Jesus saying: “Let your love be upon us Lord, even as we hope in you.” Continue reading

A Mother’s Day Story and Blessing

Every year on Mother’s Day, I love to tell the story of an episode of Sesame Street that I recall from many years ago.

The muppet puppets were featured in a story in which a little boy was separated from his mother. As the boy was crying in the town’s piazza because he could not find his mother, the king of that town came upon him and asked him why he was crying. The little boy responded that he had been separated from his mother and could not find her.

The king asked the little boy what his mother looked like and promised to send his entire army out to find her. The boy exclaimed that his mother “was the most beautiful women in the world.” The king dispatched his army to find the most beautiful women in the world so that she might be re-united with her son. The soldiers in the army brought back all of the beautiful women in the kingdom to be re-united with the child. Each time the boy was presented with another person to ask if this was his mother, he said “no, that is not her.” They continued to bring all of the women in the kingdom. Finally, the king said to the boy, we have brought you every beautiful women in the kingdom. And the boy said, but I told you “my mother is the most beautiful women in the world.

When it seemed like all of the women in the kingdom had been brought, everyone was beginning to lose hope that the boy would ever be re-united with his mother. Finally, a worn down and poorly dressed women made her way in to the king’s court and the boy shrieked in gladness at the sight of his mother.

Surprised that this was the boy’s mother, the king said, “I thought that you said that your mother was the most beautiful women in the world.” The boy exclaimed that “she is indeed the most beautiful women in the world. What took you so long to find her?”

Today we celebrate and give thanks for the gift of our mothers. I will offer Mass for the mothers of all the parishioners of St. Peter’s Parish—those living and deceased.

Thank you to all the mothers of the parish who are to their children the most beautiful women in the world.

May God bless the mothers of our parish today and always.

Fr. Michael

World Day of Pray for Vocations during the COVID 19 Pandemic

There is a cartoon, which is going around on the internet these days, which shows Satan in a mock conversation with God about COVID 19. In the cartoon, Satan is boasting to God that because of the COVID 19 virus, he has succeeded in closing down all the churches of the world. In this cartoon, God responds, showing that He will always be victorious over Satan, by saying: “On the contrary, I have opened up a church in every home of the world.”

This Sunday, the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. This is a day to pray that all of the baptized will hear God calling them and respond to His call. The word “vocation” itself comes from the Latin word “vocare,” which means “to call.” This word emphasizes the fact that each one of us is called to follow Christ through baptism. Every baptized person has received the Holy Spirit from God and is called to be a “temple of the Holy Spirit,” making Christ present in the world. Continue reading

The Disciples on the Road to Emmaus: When Things Do not Workout and COVID 19

This Sunday’s Gospel from Luke 24:13-35, which presents us with the story of the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus, presents us with what has always been one of my favorite Gospel stories. It takes place on the “very day” that Jesus has risen from the dead. As it takes place, some of Jesus’ disciples are just learning that He has risen. In the case of the disciples in this story, Cleopas and his friends are actually leaving Jerusalem—walking away from the Holy City. As they leave the city, they are completely destitute, feeling that all of their hopes and dreams have been destroyed because of the death of Jesus. They even say: “we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.” Because of the arrest and death of the one whom they thought would redeem Israel, they are devastated and cannot imagine what the future will hold for them. Continue reading

Divine Mercy Sunday and COVID 19

There is a song that I used to like very much when I was a child. It is one that I am sure many of you will recognize. Its words are as follows:

He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands
He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands
He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got a-you and me brother in His hands
He’s got a-you and me brother in His hands
He’s got a-you and me brother in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got a-you and me sister in His hands
He’s got a-you and me sister in His hands
He’s got a-you and me sister in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

The point of this song is pretty simple. It reminds us over and over again, that God holds all of us in His hands and because of His loving care, we will all be fine. As a child, this song made me feel safe and reminded me that the world was in God’s hands and everything would be alright because of His unconditional love and mercy. Continue reading