January 17 2016
By John Nazareth
Every year the Archdiocese of Toronto invites one of the communities in Toronto to organize the special Mass. This year in their strategy meeting one of the Bishops recommended that the Goan community be asked because of its strong leadership and organizational skill set. Thanks goes to the Canadian Goan Christian Group and the Goan Overseas Association for organizing the wonderful event.
What a delight it was for the all people of Goan origin to have the opportunity of celebrating the Mass presided over by Cardinal Thomas Collins – and on what an auspicious day – one day after the feast day of the Goan saint Father Joseph Vaz. The Mass was attended by over 500 people, including dignitaries such as: Her Worship Bonnie Crombie – Mayor of Mississauga, Honorable Rona Ambrose – Federal Leader of the Opposition, Honourable Peter Fonseca – Liberal MP, Councillor Joe Mihevc (representing Toronto Mayor John Tory), Shelly White CEO of the United Way, Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans, and Deputy Chief, and the ever popular former Mayor of Mississauga – Hazel McCallion. There was a special honor guard organized by the Knights of Columbus. We were also graced with the presence of the Rector of St. Augustine’s Seminary Fr. Edwin Gonsalves who brought along several Goan seminarians.
After the Mass the congregation was treated to speeches by the dignitaries in the Parish Hall and some sumptuous snacks. The leaders of the hosts – Dr. Colin Saldanha of the CGCG and Selwyn Collaco – President of the GOA, led off by welcoming the Cardinal and all attendees in the celebration of this wonderful feast instituted by Pope Francis. They recollected that this feast was personal for the Goan community recalling that Canada welcomed South Asian refugees from Uganda in 1972 among whom were a sizeable number of Goans including many in the hall.
The Cardinal talked about the significance of the feast, and expressed his appreciation for the Goan community for their faith and hard work within the Church in the Archdiocese.
All the other dignitaries took turns in praising the work of the Church, and the role played by Cardinal Collins – whose birthday it was the day before, and recalling that Canada was known to be built by immigrants. They all remembered that as we speak Canada was welcoming a new batch of refugees from Syria. We were also treated to some wonderful Goan traditional dances and songs which were much appreciated by all.
Thank you CGCG and GOA, and all who attended, Goans, Mangaloreans, East Indians, Anglo Indians and many others. Thank you Pastor Fr. Marc-Andre Campbell (who was away) and Associate Pastor Fr. Joseph Alozie for the use of St. Joseph’s. And in a special way, thank you to Canada and all Canadians for being welcoming to migrants and refugees.
For photographs of the event- click here.