Friday, June 20, 2008

Church Parade

Nestled among the row-houses of inner-city Toronto (Parkdale, to be exact, whose denizens include drug addicts and prostitutes uneasily coexisting with a gentryfying bourgeoisie) is one of the landmarks of Toronto Catholicism, a gem of orthdoxy with an ascetic, musically rich liturgy.

Holy Family Church is a place that takes Roman Catholicism seriously, with erudite sermons that don't talk down, an emphasis on traditional beliefs and morality, and a rich musical tradition centred around Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony. The priests and brothers living there are members of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, an order of secular priests with religious houses in Europe, North America and Australia. They have been there since 1983.

The Oratorians there run two busy parishes (Holy Family Church, with a predominantly Filipino congregation and St. Vincent de Paul, in a predominantly Polish part of town) and a seminary. The latter prepares future priests from dioceses across Canada and in the United States, particularly those who strictly adhere to Church practices.

The church also offers a two-week course on the Catechism and related topics every year.

Holy Family Church occasionally makes its presence visible in the neighborhood.

Last May, the parish staged a Mother's Day parade in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, complete with priests, seminarians, children receiving First Communion, and the local branch of the Knights of Columbus.

See for yourself.

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