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Toronto JUNE-JULY 49-64_Layout 1 13-05-23 1:22 PM Page 55 ARTS & CULTURE By David De Marco & Marcello Tarantino St. Clare Roman Catholic Church celebrates 100 years This year marks the 100th Anniversary of St. Clare Roman Catholic Church, located on St. Clair Avenue in the heart of Corso Italia. What started as a humble desire to create a new parish in the then outskirts of the city has grown into a vibrant parish that has answered the spiritual needs of its parishioners In 1913, St. Clare’s first Pastor, Fr. Edward McCabe, oversaw the construction of the church. It was designed by architect Arthur W. Holmes in the Renaissance Revival style, and remains one of the few houses of worship in the entire city to be built in this manner. The cornerstone was laid by Archbishop Neil McNeil on Sunday, August 17 of that year and Mass was celebrated in the basement of the church until its completion. In the late 1940s, the surrounding area of the church started to become predominantly Italian. As a result, a need for masses in Italian became essential. By 1959, Fr. Giuseppe Sbrocchi began to celebrate Italian Masses in the church hall and the new community embraced St. Clare Church more whole-heartedly. Soon, it became the pillar of the community, as the parishioners found a place where they could fully live out their faith and religious traditions. After playing a crucial role in the church’s growth throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Fr. Mariano Polito was named Pastor in 1974. In fact, the splendid stained-glass window depicting The Prodigal Son is dedicated in his honour. The ever-increasing influence of the Italian culture in the area eventually led to the church’s first Italian choir in 1976 under new Pastor, Fr. Giuseppe Dal Ferro. St. Clare continued to flourish throughout the 1980’s under the guidance of Pastors Fr. Ermidio Cremona and Fr. Antonio Sandre, who touched many people with their inspirational characters and wisdom. In 1992, St. Clare was officially recognized as an historical building because of its architecture and its abundance of historical artifacts including an impressive selection of stained-glass windows, most notably the one depicting The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. It was realized by prolific Italian artist Guido Nincheri, who came to Canada in 1914 and completed more than 2,000 stained glass windows in over 100 churches across Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and New England. The other note worthy stained glass work is of the church’s patron saint, depicted in the two windows directly over the main altar as well as in a semi-circular one above the main entrance. The large clerestory windows have been dedicated to the memory of former pastors and parishioners, while the smaller ones portray the joyful and sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. In 1998, Fr. Ernesto De Ciccio became Pastor. He played an instrumental role in organizing and completing a major restoration of the entire church. Today, the magnifi- cent painting of the Crucifixion is back in its original location above the altar and the ornate stenciling work has been beautifully restored to its former glory. On the east wall of the sanctuary, a vivid depiction of the Baptism of Christ serves as the backdrop for the baptismal area. The two side alcoves contain the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and the Chapel of the Crucifix, both decorated with superb stencil work. The present Pastor of St. Clare, Fr. Vito Marziliano, understands the importance of St. Clare and its 100 year history. “Upon entering the church, the faithful can feel the prayers that for the past century have been lifted up from these pews and these walls. The walls themselves tell of untold stories of all who over the years have found solace and comfort, strength and hope in this holy place.” Over the last century, St. Clare has celebrated a plethora of marriages, comforted families and individuals in moments of challenge and sorrow, and rejoiced with thousands in welcoming new life into their families. It has and continues to be the heart and soul of its community. In honour of St. Clare’s centenary anniversary, there will be a series of religious, social and cultural events, culminating with a gala celebration in October. The gala is a very important event as it will help raise funds that will facilitate in maintaining the church and keep it financially stable. Sunday, August 11, 2013 – Feast of St. Clare Solemn Mass to be celebrated at noon to mark the beginning of the 100th Anniversary. The new statue of St. Clare will be unveiled. Followed by reception in church hall. Sunday, September 8, 2013 – Feast of the Birth of Mary Mass to be presided by His Eminence Cardinal Collins. Blessing of the new statue of St. Clare. Reception to follow in the parish hall. Friday, October 18, 2013 – 100 Year Anniversary Gala at the Liberty Grand Tickets for the gala are on sale now. Tickets cost $150 per person. Please see the contact information below to reserve a table or inquire about sponsorship levels: 416-654-7087 PA N O R A M I TA L I A . C O M 55

Panoram Italia Magazine Toronto June-July 2013

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