Father James Haley, CSP, pastor of St. Peter's in Toronto
On July 1 each year, Canadians celebrate the birth of their country. Canada as we know it today was formed on July 1, 1867 when the British North American colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Province of Canada were united into a single confederation.
The Paulists will celebrate 100 years of ministry in Canada in 2013. Archbishop McNeil, the fifth Archbishop of Toronto, first invited the Paulists to direct the Newman Hall at the University of Toronto, which they did from 1913 to 1936. In 1914, the Paulists were asked to take over the pastoral ministry of St. Peter's Parish, located at Bathurst and Bloor streets.
“We are a people entrusting to God the direction of our lives and are willing to discover new ways to celebrate our Catholic Christian Faith and our Canadian heritage,” says the parish mission statement.
Located right near the church, the Paulist Ministry Centre was founded in 1938 by Father Francis W. Stone, CSP, and offers programs for the religious education and formation of adults.
The Paulist vocation has attracted Canadians down through the years. Former Paulist president Father Wilfrid F. Dewan, CSP, grew up in Ingersol, Ontario. Another former president, Father William A. Michell, CSP, grew up in St Peter's Parish.
Father Stephen Bossi, CSP, associate pastor of St. Peter's in Toronto
One of those vocations is Father James Haley, CSP, current pastor of St. Peter’s who hails from Nova Scotia. Below, Father Haley answers some questions about Canada Day and Paulist ministry in the country of the maple leaf.
How is Canada Day celebrated?
Canada Day is the celebration of our Canadian identity and heritage, much like the Fourth of July in the United States. There are parades, fireworks, picnics … it is a big national holiday. Also, because schools here are in session until the end of June, Canada Day marks the beginning of summer.
Is St. Peter’s hosting any celebratory events?
Yes! There will be a special Mass at 10 a.m. on July 1.
As a native of Nova Scotia, what does Canada Day mean to you?
I am very proud of my Canadian heritage; being Canadian is a very important part of who I am. This is my third assignment in Canada, so I have a history and some deep roots here.
Father Tom Gibbons, CSP, associate pastor of St. Peter's in Toronto
Why is the Paulist mission so relevant in Canada today?
Society here seems to be more secular and more apathetic towards religion than in the United States. Our challenge is to break through that by spreading and sharing the Gospel.
How does the mission in Canada impact the Paulist community?
Outside of Rome, Toronto is the only Paulist mission outside of the United States. Even though the culture of the United States and Canada share many similarities, there are some differences. It is good for Paulists who serve here to experience those differences in culture and political system. It broadens our vision, broadens our view of how we approach things in the United States, and gives us a different perspective on our mission and society. Toronto is very cosmopolitan with people from the Philippines, Africa and China, so the range of cultures you can experience here really gives you a different worldview.