I was assigned to St. Andre Bessette Parish in May of last year. I first moved to St. David’s Parish in July and lived there for both the months of July and August, and on September 8th, St. Andre Bessette Parish was born; coinciding with the birthday of our Blessed Mother. I was grateful and overwhelmed by the support I experienced that day. Both the 10am and 12pm Mass on the opening day were full. Who would have imagined that the first Mass would be full? I had been told by two pastors who had previously built churches that only a handful of people came to their first mass. I recall one priest telling me that his first collection was $34, and all that came from his own family members! Our collection was jaw dropping $3000 on our first Sunday collection! We were off to a great start!
Over a hundred people from my former parishes drove all the way to Maple to celebrate this historical moment; the opening of a brand new parish in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Thanks to Notre Dame High School Choir who came all the way from Ajax to provide music for our first mass making it extra special and meaningful. When the students arrived, I was told that the school bus that was supposed to bring them to Maple broke down and never even showed up at their school that Sunday morning in Ajax. They panicked and decided to call a cab. All 30 students and the teachers showed up in several different cabs! I was moved by their determination and show of friendship and support.
Looking back, I remember anxiously getting prepared to celebrate the first Sunday Mass and nervously ordering 100 boxes of envelopes, as I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment in case only a few people showed up. But to my surprise, we had over 100 registrations at the first mass and we ran out of registration forms and of the 100 boxes of envelopes at the first mass! That was certainly an attestment to what we believe – God does provide. I knew from that very moment that God didn’t just send me to Maple to build a church on my own, but with the capable helping hands of many others. Since the inception of our parish, our parish has grown to over 500 families and we have raised about $135,000 for our building fund in the first year. We still have a lot of work to do, but I am confident that the Good Lord is with us and will guide us every step of the way. And I am truly grateful for all your support, your help, and your dedication to our parish, which has not only made a difference in the life of our parish, but also in my personal life! Thank you for joining our parish, and those who are new to our parish community, welcome!