Article by M.C. Havey, Archivist
A standing-room only congregation attended a Mass on August 21 celebrating the 60 years of Our Lady of Assumption Church in North Toronto.
Although established in 1946, the Redemptorists assumed responsibility in 1950 of the parish — but without a church. Rev. Francis Cunerty Sr., the first CSsR pastor, was the driving force to get the shovels into the ground. The construction of the church began on May 28, 1951. Meanwhile, Masses were held at a nearby movie theatre until July 20, 1952 when the first Mass was celebrated in the church.
Mark Painter, who joined the parish in 1986 after receiving private instruction from Rev. James Farrell, wrote an extensive parish history. Mr. Painter conducted research for more than six months, including almost weekly visits to the Provincial Archives. He examined the foundation records and annals, which described the parish life, served by the 37 confreres, who were appointed from 1950 until the CSsR withdrawal in June 1995. Fr. James Mason, the fifth OLA pastor, added background information and read the first draft of the history.
After the Redemptorists, a series of pastors/administrators were appointed. In August 2008, the Archdiocese of Toronto established the church as the Archdiocesan Filipino Catholic Mission. Rev. Bienvenido Ebcas Jr, the present pastor and main celebrant for the anniversary Mass, is the first mission director to the thousands of Filipino Catholics in the Greater Toronto area.
At the celebration, the parish historian publicly thanked the Redemptorists and their Archives for preserving documentation of their years of service to the parish. Later in appreciation, he presented the Archives with a framed watercolour, which he had painted of the exterior of the church. The painting now hangs in the Archives office.
Congregation at 60th Anniversary Mass
Photo courtesy of Mark Painter