About US

OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS

 

     The aftermath of World War II brought an influx of immigrants to Canada, especially from Europe. Among them were Slovenians arriving from refugee camps in Austria and Italy. They escaped from their country because of the terror of Communism. The first group of Slovenians came to the Toronto area in 1947.

Men went to work on farms, in forests, in mines or for the railroad and women did house work to “pay” for their transportation to Canada. This work lasted up to one year.

After paying their “dues”, they settled in Toronto because jobs were available. Toronto was growing at that time as the industrial centre of Canada.

On December 12, 1948, Rev. Jakob Kolaric, C.M., arrived in Toronto. He took over the spiritual care for the Slovenians in the city. Soon he was followed by Rev. Joze Casl, C.M. and then by Rev. Janez Kopac, C.M., who helped Rev. Kolaric in his pastoral work for the Slovenians, whose numbers were growing with every new ship coming from Europe to Canada.

At the beginning, they found their “home” at Mount Carmel Church in the city centre. Attending Sunday Mass continued into social gatherings. Having their own priest, the wish to have their own parish and own church, not being guests elsewhere, grew stronger and stronger with every gathering. Social events were organised to collect funds to make these wishes a reality.

On February 10, 1953, a lot was purchased on 609 Manning Avenue. On the same day, the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal McGuigan, created a new parish under the name Our Lady Help of Christians, Slovenian.

On May 12, 1953, the plans for the new church, drawn up by architect Peter Dimitroff, were submitted to the City of Toronto for approval. During the summer, the plans were approved. The new parish signed a contract with Franc Stojc, a Slovenian contractor, who started digging on December 7, 1953. The construction of the hall and the church proceeded quickly for there were many volunteers.

Bishop Gregorij Rozman, who shared the fate of his countrymen as a refugee and immigrant, visited the Slovenians in Toronto several times. His first visit was on July 30, 1949. As the construction of the new church neared completion, Bishop Rozman came again to lead a spiritual renewal, as preparation for the blessing of the first church for Slovenians in Canada.

Toronto Archbishop Cardinal McGuigan blessed the new church on December 19, 1954. The solemn celebration was a crown for the hard and dedicated work of the priests (Vincentian Fathers) and the Slovenian faithful in building the church.

Soon after the parish was established, the pattern for parish activities started to develop. The Vincentian fathers introduced spiritual renewals before Christmas and Easter, parish missions, retreats… As the parish grew, new organisations were formed. First: Parish Council, The Catholic Women’s League, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Baraga’s Mission Circle, Legion of Mary, Scouts, Slovenian Saturday School (in 1953), Youth Club, Youth Choirs, Men’s Choir, Church Choir, and Dance Groups.

Pastors, Vincentian Fathers:

  1. Rev. Jakob Kolaric: from the beginning of the parish until 1960;
  2. Rev. Andrej Prebil: from 1960 until 1969;
  3. Rev. Tone Zrnec: from 1969 until 1979;
  4. Rev. Joze Mejac: from 1979 until 1981;
  5. Rev. Ivan Plazar: from 1981 until 1988;
  6. Rev. Valentin Batic: from 1988

Assistants, Vincentian Fathers:

Rev. Joze Casl, Janez Kopac, Franc Sodja, Stanko Boljka, Tone Zrnec, Ivan Plazar, Janez Jeretina, Matija Balazic, Joze Mejac, Franc Letonja, Ivan Jan, Ciril Carga.

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