History of SaintThomas More Parish

Our First Decade

By Decree of Erection the Parish of St. Thomas More, Scarborough, was established by the Archdiocese of Toronto on June 15, 1964 and divided from the parish of St. Rose of Lima. The Decree was signed by Coadjutor Archbishop of Toronto, Philip F. Pocock. The official Decree was sent to Reverend E. J. Platt, as the first pastor of Saint Thomas More Parish, on June 25, 1964. The solemn blessing of the Church of Saint Thomas More took place on Sunday, September 10, 1967 with his Grace The Most Rev. Philip F. Pocock officiating.
Over the next 50 years since the establishment of the Parish there were many highlights and memories that enrich the story of our parish and we share a few of these memories in the following pages. We trust that they will trigger many happy reminiscences for our parishioners.

1964-1973

  • The first rectory was in the house on Clementine Square; baptisms were held in a small chapel in the basement; Sunday Mass was celebrated at Heather Heights P. S., Churchill Heights P. S., then Woburn Collegiate. Fr. Jack Sheppard helped Fr. Platt with Masses.
  • Immediately after the letter of erection of St. Thomas More Parish, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Thomas More Conference, was established under the leadership of Ron Botell; men in the newly identified parish area quickly joined the conference.
  • October 13, 1964: St. Thomas More Council of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) of Canada received its charter; in 1965 the CWL had 130 members.
  • 1964: St. Rose Softball, Hockey and Bowling Leagues became the St. Rose/St. Thomas More Leagues.
  • 1964: Catechism classes for children attending public schools were taught by parishioners.
  • October 1965: Sod turned for the new church; Fr. McCann, Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, presided in place of the bishop. Construction of the church, rectory and hall began in 1966.
  • 1967: Official opening and solemn blessing of the church by Most Reverend Philip Pocock.
  • 1967: A year of several firsts – first CWL Communion Breakfast, first parish picnic in Morningside Park; CWL held “kitchen shower” to outfit parish hall.
  • 1968: St. Thomas More Separate School opened.
  • Youth Corps had a dance; Couples Club initiated and organized dances to raise funds until 1986; Badminton Club; the parish picnic at Thomson Park became an annual event.
  • 1968 First women’s retreat at Manresa; the retreat occurred at various locations in other years.
  • 1968: Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Thomas More Parish Conference, started Bundle Sunday collections that continue to the present; CWL had its first rummage sale and first bazaar; both became annual events.
  • 1968: The parish responded to 1968 “Human Rights yYear” with discussion on prejudice; the CWL had a presentation on the abortion issue.
  • 1969: Fr. James Gosson, C.S.Sp. became Sunday assistant until 1988.
  • 1970: Firsts for CWL members – annual spaghetti dinner, annual amateur night.
  • April 1971: The Young Adults group met.
  • St. Edmund Campion Separate School temporary school building opened in 1971; the permanent school was completed in the spring of 1973.
  • November 1972: The parish supported a petition initiated by the Right to Life Association.
  • January 1973: An ecumenical service was held at St. Mark’s United Church, with a combined choir of singers from St. John the Divine Anglican, St. Mark’s United, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian and St. Thomas More Catholic churches.
  • February 1973: There was a parish mission and a Children’s Mission Mass; funds were collected to help missions in Northern Ontario.
  • June 3, 1973: The celebration of the ordination anniversary of Fr. Edwin Platt; a presentation of the stained glass window depicting St. Thomas More and his family was made.
  • September 1973: A reception was held for Fr. Jon Bromley who was transferred to another parish.
  • November 1973: Members of the CWL attended Festival of Life in Ottawa.
  • John J. Farrugia, architect of St. Thomas more Church, donated a stained glass window to the parish.

Our Second Decade

1974 – 1983

  • Youth Group meetings for young people 14 to 18 years held at 7:00 pm Sundays.
  • Oktoberfest dance hosted by Couples Club.
  • November 1974: Parish social held to thank Fr. Hannan who was transferred to another parish.
  • St. Thomas More/ St. Rose drama group planned for next production.
  • 1975 CWL activities: Annual Communion Breakfast, public speaking competition for Grade 7/8 students, canvassing on Heart Sunday, Red Cross blood donor clinic, rummage sales, bazaar.
  • Fr. Platt donated blood for the 96th time; article local newspaper.
  • Men of the parish canvassed homes of parishioners for Share Lent ’75 collection.
  • January 1976: Ecumenical service with the local United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches.
  • March 1976: Presentation for parishioners by Laura McArthur, president of the Right to Life Association.
  • May 1976: Procession in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, followed by the rosary and Benediction.
  • December 1976: Initiation of regular First Friday adoration with mass at 7:30 pm followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction at 11:30 pm
  • 1976 CWL activities: Evening of recollection with Fr. McCarthy, a Holy Ghost Father; bazaar; availability of Fireside Family Bibles for sale; blood donor clinic.
  • May 1977: Annual Mass for Shut-Ins, sponsored by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Scarborough Particular Council, with entertainment and refreshments in the church hall, the only wheelchair accessible church hall in Scarborough.
  • Fall 1978: Lay visitation to the sick, elderly, and housebound began.
  • CWL held its regular Christmas auction for the Good Shepherd Refuge and collection of food from parishioners.
  • CWL also canvassed for the Heart Fund, supported the blood donor clinic, organized procession in honour of Our Lady; auction and rummage sale to support F. Nel’s Colombian Project.
  • June 2/3 1979: “The Burning of the Mortgage” dinner and dance on Saturday acknowledging the hard work of Fr. Platt and parishioners; on Sunday concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving with Bishop-Elect Leonard J. Wall followed by a reception to celebrate the “Burning of the Mortgage”.
  • June 17, 1979: Following 11:30 Mass, a reception to celebrate the 40th ordination anniversary of Fr. Lajos Makko.
  • January 1980: An ethnic Chinese family, sponsored by our parishioners for one year to Jan. 31, 1981, arrived from Vietnam to live in our parish. The family consisted of the husband, wife, five daughters, two sons and the grandmother. The children attended St. Bede Catholic School’s temporary site on Military Trail. The parish helped them settle in their new country; they embraced the opportunities they had to develop their new life in Canada.
  • 1980: Fr. Platt transferred to build a new parish, St. Luke’s, in Thornhill; in 1981 a bursary was established by the parishioners at St. Augustine’s Seminary in his honour.
  • Fr. John O’Donnell named pastor; Fr. James Wholey, C.M. and Fr. James Gosson, C.S.Sp. appointed associates. Installation of Fr. O’Donnell as pastor by Bishop Clune on July 6, 1980.
  • May 1980: Transitional diaconal ordination of Edwin Galea and Joseph Murphy; Joe had been the organist at St. Thomas More Church.
  • Men invited to volunteer to help distribute Holy Communion at Sunday Masses; plans for choirs and a Parish Council.
  • May 1981: CWL had a New and Nearly New booth at Providence Villa Spring Festival; they participated for several years in the Festival.
  • 1981: Stained glass window of the Canadian Martyrs donated by the Couples Club; the newly installed hall completed; 1982 four more stained glass windows installed.
  • May 1982: St. Thomas More Players presented the play “The Holly and the Ivy”.
  • 1982: First meeting of St. Thomas More Parish Council; Knights of Columbus Parish Council membership drive.
  • June 1983: Reception for Fr. O’Donnell’s 25th anniversary as a priest; September reception for Fr. Wholey who was transferred; Fr. Vid Vlasic and Fr. Angus McRae appointed as associate pastors.
  • Opening of Pope John Paul II Secondary School on Military Trail (site of the temporary St. Bede Catholic School).
  • Plan to use Eucharistic Ministers at some Masses.

Our Third Decade

1984-1993

  • January 1984: First meetings of the new Youth Group and Young Adults’ group.
  • September 15th: Parishioners volunteered at Papal Mass at Downsview Park.
  • January 1985: Recruitment of members for Legion of Mary and Junior Legion of Mary.
  • St. Thomas More Parish initiated Marriage Preparation Course open to young couples in the area.
  • Lenten coin banks given to children; proceeds helped local child participate in the Special Olympics; retreat for youth of parish.
  • 1986: Volunteers continue to canvas parishioners door to door for Heart Fund and ShareLife.
  • Youth group gave profit from dance to charity and to the widow and family of man killed at the PetroCan station at Markham and Ellesmere Roads.
  • Youth group put on turkey dinner in appreciation of adults who were chaperones at their dances.
  • CWL continued their Stratford Theatre trips, support of food banks, booth at Providence Villa Spring Festival.
  • February 1987: Start of series of eight lectures on Liturgy by the Liturgy Council of the Archdiocese of Toronto.
  • Spaghetti Dinner by the Youth Group to raise funds for Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Thomas More Parish conference.
  • Mass and reception for Fr. James Gosson in celebration of his golden jubilee.
  • CWL supported blood donor clinic, pancake breakfast, St. Patrick’s Dance, Daffodil Day for Cancer Society, booth at Providence Villa, Stratford Theatre trips.
  • April 1987: Many parishioners went by bus from the church to participate in a peaceful walk in front of the Morgentaler Clinic to protest abortion.
  • 1988: Men’s and women’s annual retreats continued to the present time.
  • Fr. Vid Vlasic and Fr. Michael Waites transferred to another parish.
  • September 1988: Spanish Mass began on Sundays at 4:30 pm; celebrated by visiting priests.
  • CWL Mother-Daughter luncheon; May procession, rosary, crowning of statue of Our Lady.
  • 1989: 25th Anniversary of St. Thomas More Parish; souvenir plates available; October 13 Mass and diner in hall to celebrate.
  • January 29, 1989: Celebration of Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, participation of choir from Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church; icon donated by Sts. Peter and Paul Church.
  • May 28: Cardinal’s Mass at 11:30 am with His Eminence G. Emmett Cardinal Carter; followed by a reception.
  • Spanish-led groups formed: Baptism and Marriage preparation, choir and music groups.
  • Volunteers invited to visit Seven Oaks Home for the Aged
  • September 10: Reception after all Masses to welcome mew pastor, Fr. Joseph McCormick.
  • November 9: Reception to celebrate retirement of Fr. John O’Donnell.
  • September 1990: John Duffy, seminarian, assigned to Parish in June 1991.
  • October: As tribute to Fr. Edwin Platt to honor his 16 years as pastor, funds were donated to a bursary in his honour at St. Augustine’s Seminary.
  • September 1991: Beginning of the year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Toronto.
  • May 1992: Many parishioners attended the ordination of Fr. John Duffy at St. Michael’s Cathedral; first Mass celebrated at St. Thomas More Church followed by a reception in the hall.
  • June: Reception for Fr. Michael Waites, transferred to another parish.
  • September; Goan display, first of several cultural displays; October, Italian display; November, Maltese display.
  • 1993: January, Scottish cultural display; February, Filippino display; March, Irish display; April, Sir Lankan.
  • September: Renovations began—washrooms at hall entrance; in December blessing of the Fr. Joseph McCormick Hall which had been renovated and extended; new, larger kitchen and meeting rooms.
  • CWL continued to organize rummage sales, garage sales, bazaars, receptions.
  • November 1993: Fr. John Duffy and members of the Youth Group travelled to Denver, Colorado, for World Youth Day; Pope John Paul II flew to Denver specifically for the event.

 

Our Fourth Decade

1994 – 2003

  • 1994: April, Caribbean cultural display; May, French display; October, Canadian display.
  • February: Parish mission by Fr. Malcolm Smith; Vision TV taping of “How of Pray”.
  • April: Caribbean cultural display after 11:30 am Mass; May, French display.
  • June 1994: Fr. Mel Talan transferred; Fr. Lawrence D’Mello became associate pastor; he celebrated Mass for the Spanish congregation until 1997.
  • October 2: Life Chain at Markham Road and Sheppard Avenue East; continues to the present at Markham Road and Ellesmere Road.
  • Visit of statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, Philippines; Healing Mass in November.
  • December: Christmas cakes on sale for Campaign Life; continued to the present.
  • 1995: Euchre weekly; pancake breakfast became an annual event.
  • Senior altar servers added to the roster to serve at funerals.
  • May 1995: CWL planted an emerald green maple tree, blessed by Fr. McCormick, opposite front door of church, in honour of the 75th anniversary of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada.
  • Fall: Children’s Liturgy of the Word restarted; other groups continued other activities including the Knights of Columbus, religious articles table, altar society, Legion of Mary and Junior Legion of Mary.
  • 1996: Indoor grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary built.
  • May 1996; Fr. McCormick ill; Robert Rosales ordained as permanent deacon; assigned to St. Thomas More Parish.
  • ShareLife Walkathon at Cedarbrook Park; CWL had car in Scarborough Canada Day parade; Oktoberfest repeated.
  • November 1996: First annual memorial service for deceased members of CWL, following 7:30 pm Mass on first Tuesday of November; continued to current year.
  • Legion of Mary distributed rosaries/ pamphlets on how to pray the rosary to encourage families to pray the rosary; Logo designed for the Youth Group, Y.E.S. (Youth Enriched in the Spirit).
  • May 4, 1997: 25th anniversary of St. Edmund Campion School; Mass and reception at the school.
  • June 1997: Tribute to Fr. Joseph McCormick – Mass and reception.
  • Fr. Lawrence D’Mello left; Fr. Miguel Angel Godoy assigned as associate pastor for the Spanish congregation; actively involved in all Spanish groups until 1999.
  • Night of prayer to end abortion, joining with churches across North America.
  • January 1998: Ann Botell retired; first volunteered in 1968 to type bulletins; employed in 1980s
  • Golden jubilee celebration for Fr. Platt attended by many parishioners.
  • Fr. McCormick retired; Fr. John Duffy assigned as administrator.
  • First “angel tree” to collect gifts for children for the St. Vincent de Paul Conference to include with Christmas baskets.
  • 1999: Fr. Miguel Angel GoDoy returned to Colombia; Fr. Raul Morales to serve Spanish congregation; first meeting of Neo-Catechumenal Way; crowning of Our Lady of Fatima statue by the Spanish congregation.
  • Bulletin message from Padre John M. Duffy to the Spanish congregation in Spanish.
  • Prayer group began meeting; CWL annual auction for Good Shepard Refuge raised money and brought in food and clothing; 40th anniversary of St. Rose of Lima parish.
  • 2000: Archdiocesan Jubilee Year; many parishioners attended Jubilee Mass at Air Canada Centre.
  • World Youth Day: youth from St. Thomas More teamed up with young people from Midland to go on pilgrimage to Rome.
  • CWL of Canada supported World March of Women 2000 although literature advocated for full access to free abortion and “full rights for lesbians.” The executive of the St. Thomas More Council expressed concern that this support was sending the wrong message. Many other councils took the same action. Subsequently a vote was taken on remaining or withdrawing from the Catholic Women’s League of Canada. With a vote of 33/36 the independent St. Thomas More Women’s Group (CWG) was established.
  • 2001: February, Eastern European cultural display.
  • Volunteer screening was implemented by the Archdiocese of Toronto and the government of Ontario. The CWG continued its many activities until 2008.
  • Fr. Raul Morales left the parish; visiting priests came to celebrate the Spanish Mass.
  • 2002: Fr. Duffy celebrated the 10th anniversary of ordination and was named pastor of St. Thomas More Parish; CWG communion breakfast speaker was Fr. Ted Colleton.
  • Summer 2002: Fr. Ferdinand Gonsalves and Fr. Richard Andrews were assigned as associates; Spanish Mass now at 2:00 pm.
  • Volunteers provided accommodation to youth pilgrims and chaperones while in Toronto for World Youth Day 2002.
  • Lent 2003: Weekly food drive; food sent by container to Missionaries of the Poor in Haiti; dramatization of the Way of the Cross by the Youth Group.
  • CWG annual memorial service for deceased members of the CWL (1964-2000), CWG (2000 onward).

Our Fifth Decade

2004 – 2013

  • January 16, 2004: Fr. John O’Donnell, second pastor of St. Thomas More Parish, died.
  • May 2004: Fr. Miguel Segura ordained at St. Michael’s Cathedral; he celebrated his first Mass at St. Thomas More Parish; a reception followed.
  • Youth Group planned for World Youth Day 2005, held pancake breakfast, Youth Ministry Mass, dramatization of Way of the Cross, car wash, Candlelight Living Rosary and Adoration, Christmas Concert, “Christmas Through the Years”; sale of religious pictures and T-shirts.
  • Spanish Youth Group sold papusas (traditional Salvadoran dish) to raise funds for trip to World Youth Day in Germany in 2005; Neo-Catechumenal Way continued to meet.
  • 2004: Fr. Ferdinand Gonsalves returned to India.
  • June 2005: Farewell reception for Fr. Richard Andrews, transferred to another parish; Fr. Peter Wood and Fr. Antony Bruno appointed associate pastors.
  • June 2005: Maneesha Fernando, a member of the Legion of Mary and the Youth Group, entered the convent of the Missionaries Charity.
  • October: Several parishioners joined Fr. John Duffy on a pilgrimage to the Hole Land; in April 2006, announcement that projector system purchased for parish by participants in pilgrimage.
  • November 2005: Farewell to Fr. Ernest Ezeogu who returned to Nigeria.
  • 2006: Santo Nino novena; Spanish community sponsored Valentines Dance.
  • May 31, 2006: Funeral for Fr. Joseph McCormick, followed by reception in the hall.
  • June; Farewell reception for Fr. John Duffy; arrival of Fr. Octavio Beltran, pastor, and Cesar Sahagun, deacon. Installation of Fr. Beltran as pastor by Bishop Richard Grecco on July 30th.
  • January 2007: The Ark of the Covenant at church in preparation for 2008 Eucharistic Congress.
  • May 2007: Ordination of Fr. Leo Llames from the Spanish Neo-Catechumenal Way.
  • 2007: St. Vincent de Paul Conference continued its work with families; Knights of Columbus, RCIA, CWG, Youth Group, Legion of Mary, Liturgy of the Word for Children were active.
  • February 2008; The Catholic Women’s Group (CWG) disbanded; there was an information night in September for ladies to hear about the Catholic Women’s League. The memorial service for deceased members of the CWL (1964-2000) and CWG (2000-2008) continues each year.
  • March 2008: Monsignor Expedito Joano arrived as associate pastor.
  • May 2008: Fr. Damian Young-Sam-You, who had served as an altar server at the parish for 17 years, was ordained at St. Michael’s Cathedral and celebrated his first Mass at the Church, followed by a reception.
  • June 8: 60th ordination anniversary Mass and celebration of Fr. Edwin J. Platt first pastor of St. Thomas More Parish, at Corpus Christi Church.
  • June 21, 2008: Farewell reception for Fr. Antony Bruno.
  • Fr. David Perez named associate pastor; served the Spanish congregation until 2013.
  • Youth Group activities: Youth Mass, Lenten retreat, garage sale, meetings, walking pilgrimage.
  • Series of seminars by the Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life.
  • March 2009: Ladies in parish invited to an evening of spiritual reflection and discussion of reactivation of the CWL for the parish.
  • November: Message from Archbishop Collins about the H1N1 virus and practices to be followed.
  • Celebration of the 50th ordination anniversary of Msgr. Expedito Joano; farewell celebration in June 2010.
  • April 2010: Construction to replace the hall and church doors and add stained glass panels.
  • Spanish Community participated in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Fr. David Perez as their spiritual director.
  • May 2011: Parishioners invited to commit to sponsoring an Iraqi family from a Syrian refugee camp through the Archdiocesan program “One Parish-One Family”.
  • September 17: Fr. Edwin Platt, first pastor of St. Thomas More Parish, died.
  • New translation of Roman Missal to be used starting November 27, 2011
  • April 2012: Knights of Columbus sponsored “ Sacred Relics of the Saints” display; James Lewis, oldest St. Thomas More Parish parishioner, celebrated his 100th birthday.
  • June 23, 2012: Parish BBQ and picnic in celebration of the feast of St. Thomas More; English and Spanish communities provided great food; the Youth Group organized children’s games.
  • Fundraising for refugee family: Rummage and white elephant sale; Thanksgiving Dinner and Dance; Bishop Vincent Nguyen attended; subsequently the Settlement Committee announced that the family arrived in late November and was settled nearby.
  • May 2013: Deacon Cesar Sahagun retired from his ministry; celebration of the 50th ordination anniversary of Fr. Sydney Chang and Fr. Patrick Fitzpatrick.
  • Spanish congregation’s farewell reception for Fr. David Perez and Fr. Octavio Beltran; Parish Council also organized a farewell reception.
  • July 3, 2013: Arrival of James Casper, SCJ, pastor; Fr. Aegidius Warsito, SCJ and Fr. Willyans Rapozo, SCJ, associate pastors. Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, they will also be ministering to Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Midland Ave; Fr. Willyans is pastor of the Spanish congregation at St. Thomas More Parish.
  • September: Installation of Fr. James Casper SCJ as pastor of St. Thomas More Parish by Bishop Vincent Nguyen; also a visit by Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, Superior General, and Fr. John van den Hengal, Vicar, Priests of the Sacred Heart.
  • Welcomed Sister Caroline Altpeter, Co-ordinator of the Religious Education Program and Sister Lori Nunes to lead the RCIA program.
  • Spanish Community celebrated the 25th anniversary of its participation in the worship community at St. Thomas More Parish; the parish is officially a bilingual parish.
  • Final report on the family sponsored by the St. Thomas More congregation as part of the “One Parish-One Family” program.
    • December 22: Ice storm disrupted family life and Parish Christmas celebrations for the majority of parishioners; the New Year’s Eve dance was rescheduled as a Valentine’s