In 1951, the Passionist Community of Canada, at the invitation of Cardinal McGuigan, Archbishop of Toronto, established St. Gabriel’s Parish in North York. At that time the parish included an area now covered by the parishes of St. Timothy, Holy Spirit, St. Bartholomew, St. Barnabas, St. Paschal Baylon, St. Bonaventure, and Blessed Trinity. The cornerstone was laid in 1952 and the church was consecrated on June 7, 1953.
That church was built in a farmer’s field. Today that field has become part of a vibrant and bustling urban landscape. Like the whole area of North York, St. Gabriel’s has seen a tremendous growth in numbers and diversity. The congregation of St Gabriel’s is now made up of people from many lands and our ethnic diversity enriches the life of our parish family.
At the turn of the millennium, faced with an old church building with mounting problems of upkeep and maintenance, and in anticipation of a continual increase in the population of the neighbourhood due to development intensification along the new Sheppard subway line, the Passionists decided to build a new parish church. The new church was completed and dedicated by Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic in November 2006.
The ‘new’ St. Gabriel’s Church affirms and emphasizes the warm and inclusive sense found in the parish community over the years as it links the sacredness of the community of Faith gathered with the sacredness of the Earth. The new church emphasizes the connection between humankind and the rest of God’s creation — stressing the beauty and wonder of creation, while grounding the human within the life communities sharing the Earth.
For more on the theology and engineering design of the new church, see Green Church.