Friday, 27 February 2015

The Year of Consecrated Life: The Order of St. Augustine at Marylake

February brings the season of Lent, which is a time of prayer and reflection before Easter. What better time to feature a religious order who have provided a place for those things in the Archdiocese of Toronto for seven decades?

The Order of St. Augustine traces its origins to 1244, when several Tuscan hermits were asked by Pope Innocent IV to unite as an order under St. Augustine's Rule, which is the oldest known guide to living in a religious community.

Fast forward to the 1940s, when Archbishop McGuigan heard about the work a group of Augustinians were doing in Nova Scotia. He had been interested in opening a spiritual center within the archdiocese, and so he invited the order to start a foundation in King City.

MG DS 44.66b

"Your Excellency, I beg to inform Your Excellency that the Sacred Congregation of Religious, favourably complying with the request presented by the Augustinian Fathers and approved by Your Excellency, has granted the "Beneplacitum Apostolicum" for a new foundation of their Order in your Archdiocese, in the place known as "Marylake".

"While making to Your Excellency this communication, with best regards and wishes, I remain Yours sincerely in Christ, + Ildebrando Antoniutti"

The Augustinians took over an 814 acre estate located on Keele Street north of King City that was originally developed by Sir Henry Pellat (of Casa Loma fame). The lake on the site, known as Lake Marie, was renamed as Marylake, and the property was dedicated to Our Lady of Grace. The buildings were converted to become a monastery and retreat center. In addition, the order operated a dairy farm.

On August 15, 1943, 12,000 people attended the dedication of the chapel and blessing of the statue of Our Lady of Grace. On November 11, 1961, the Augustinians were given the care of Sacred Heart Parish in King City. In 1964, a new monastery and shrine were dedicated. The organ in the new chapel was constructed from combination of two organs: one from the Seagram House in Toronto, and the other from the Eaton Estate. In 1999, Villanova College was opened on the property.

Over the years, Marylake has been an important spiritual haven in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Tens of thousands have taken part in the retreat programs offered by the Augustinians.

For more information about the Augustinians at Marylake, check

For more information about the Order of St. Augustine, check

PH27A-04PC: Main Gate

PH27A-07PC: Monastery with Outside Altar

PH27A-10PC: Main Barn, Blessed Frederic Hall and Dairy

Newer shrine and monastery with view of the lake

Holstein herd

Friday, 20 February 2015

Record of the Week: "Church and State"

The relationship between Church and State has been in flux for centuries.

Canadian politicians and clergy did not shy away from the contentious issue, especially when this nation was still young. In 1876, Archbishop of Toronto John Lynch delivered a lecture, entitled "Church and State" to a packed audience in St. Michael's Cathedral. Text of the lecture was published in The Irish Canadian, June 28, 1876.

Archbishop Lynch fonds, LAA12.41

" is not the duty of the Government to decide which is the true religion; but must protect all subjects in their civil rights, and maintain peace and liberty of conscience in things which do not interfere  with public morality. Liberty of conscience does not mean licence to propagate erroneous, false and pernicious doctrine...Liberty of conscience means the liberty to follow a rightly-formed and prudent conscience, and not a conscience that dictates false principles."

In January of the same year, Archbishop Lynch had written to Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie to inform him that the Catholic clergy of his Archdiocese had been strictly forbidden from using the pulpit to express partisan views. The letter and Mackenzie's reply were published in The Sun:

Archbishop Lynch fonds, LAE12.53

Abp. Lynch to PM Mackenzie: "I might here remark that when in a free country, religious and sacred rights are brought into the arena of politics, then the Catholics have to follow them to the polls and contend there for their right as in the case of education."

PM Mackenzie to Abp. Lynch: "It is a fortunate circumstance that the form of the Canadian constitution  renders it difficult, if not impossible, to bring questions of religion into our political arena, where the subjects proper for debate are purely secular, and where, consequently, men of opposite religious views find no difficulty whatever in uniting in the conduct of public affairs."

Catholic Church teaching on religious freedom as it relates to separation of Church and State was defined in the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae (1965).

The question of religious freedom and its role in civic life has dominated media headlines lately, following the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on assisted suicide earlier this month. Read Cardinal Collin's public statement on the issue.

What's your opinion on the role of Church and State?  To hear two luminaries debate "Religion’s Role in Political Life," sign up to attend the next Chesterton Debate on February 27th.

Learn more about the Chesterton Debate Series and the guy it was named after.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Happy (Bishop Francis) Valentine (Allen)'s Day

It should be easy to write a blog post about a feast day named for a saint. However, St. Valentine is one of those early Christian martyrs whose hagiography is so vague that the Catholic Church removed his name from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 (although he is still recognized on February 14th in the Roman Martyrology).

Disclosure: We have absolutely no archival records remotely alluding to St. Valentine’s Day.

Instead, we are taking this opportunity to highlight our own Most. Rev. Francis Valentine Allen, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto from 1954-1977.  His middle name, from the Latin valens (meaning "strong, vigorous, healthy") honours his father, Valentine James Allen.

Interesting facts about Bishop Francis Valentine Allen: 

  • Bishop Francis Valentine Allen (Frank to his friends) was a true Torontonian. He was born in Toronto on June 25th, 1909.  He attended Toronto schools, was ordained at St. Michael's Cathedral and served in Toronto his whole life.
  • Francis was brought up in a devout household; of the seven children in his family, the four girls became religious sisters, and two of the three boys became priests. 

Photographs Collection PH 11/07P and PH 11/13P

Left: Studio family portrait shows two-year-old Francis V. Allen held by his mother Martha, with older brother Edward and maternal aunt Annie Malcolm, ca. 1911.  Edward was the only sibling who did not enter religious life.

Right: All seven Allen siblings, including Edward (in the suit), Murray (centre) and Francis (right).  Three of the four sisters were members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. 

  • Father Allen served as pastor at a few parishes, but he quickly gained more responsibility. He was named Secretary of St. Augustine’s Seminary in 1935, Vice-Chancellor in Temporalibus in 1936 and Chancellor in Spiritualibus in 1942.
  • Father Allen accompanied Cardinal McGuigan to Rome for the Cardinal's reception of the Red Hat and while there was named a Domestic Prelate (Monsignor) by Pope Pius XII in 1946.
Photographs Collection PH 09C/11P

In 1946, Archbishop McGuigan was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals and Rev. Allen accompanied him to the consistory. Pictured on the tarmac, departing for Rome are: Msgr. John V. Harris, Rev. Francis V. Allen, Most Rev. James McGuigan and Catholic journalist Henry Somerville.

  • In 1954, Monsignor Allen was appointed titular Bishop of Avensa (in North Africa) and Auxiliary Bishop to Cardinal McGuigan. As well as assisting Cardinal McGuigan, Bishop Allen continued as Pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish. He was Toronto’s third Auxiliary Bishop.
Photographs Collection PH11/04P

This official portrait of Francis V. Allen shows him wearing a pectoral cross, which is a sign of a bishop’s office. Bishop Allen wrote, “The Pectoral Cross, worn on the breast, is a sign of episcopal dignity. It signifies the love which should burn in the breast of the Bishop for the Cross and his Crucified Lord. Usually this cross contains relics of the True Cross or of the Martyrs.”  (AL SR15.04)

Interesting fact about this pectoral cross: the images are actually inlaid micro-mosaics, which are made of many tiny, tiny pieces of opaque glass.
Bishop Allen fonds, Stationery sets

Bishop Allen's motto: Ad Jesum Per Mariam (To Jesus Through Mary) - particularly appropriate as he was named bishop during a Marian Year.
Bishop Allen's coat of arms:
  • Green Galero (hat) with six tassels representing the office of Bishop. 
  • Top half of shield: arm holding a cross representing St. Francis of Assisi, the bishop's patron saint
  • Bottom left of shield: pierced heart representing Our Lady of Sorrows. He was a long time pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Etobicoke.
  • Bottom right of shield: a cross from the Allen coat of arms.

  • Bishop Allen was also involved in various other activities. He was a Council Father at the Second Vatican Council. He was Chairman of the Archdiocesan High School Board, the Archdiocesan Moderator of Religious Congregations, Moderator of the Holy Name Society of Canada and was on the board of the Catholic Church Extension Society.
  • Francis Valentine Allen died on October 7, 1977, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and the anniversary of his episcopal consecration. More than 1200 people attended his funeral. He was interred in the family plot in Mount Hope Cemetery, Toronto. Allen was 68 years old, a priest for 44 years and a bishop for 23 years.
  • His eponymous Toronto high school, Bishop Allen Academy, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Bishop Allen wrote extensively on Catholic education in high schools: 
“Education of the whole man necessarily includes a fourfold development: physical, mental, moral and spiritual. Not only must the body and mind be educated, but the soul also must grow and develop along the lines determined by its Creator, if the child’s development is to be entire and his education complete.”

Read a full biography here.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Marriage Sunday: Using Marriage Records to Find Your Ancestors

Cardinal McGuigan at the 1947 wedding of his sister Alice
at St. Michael's Cathedral.
PH 09F.18P
This weekend, February 7th -8th 2015, the Archdiocese of Toronto will celebrate Marriage Sunday.

Here in the archives, one of our jobs is to help people find their Catholic ancestors, so when we think of marriage we think of genealogy. In Ontario, civil marriage records before 1869 were kept by county governments. Before 1858, they were kept by district. Since Catholics are traditionally great record keepers, one way for genealogists to complement civil records is to search Church marriage registers.

One of the earliest marriage records held by ARCAT is from 1830:

"1830 M.1. John S. Kelly to Catherine Shaughnessy - September 27th were married, after three publications of Banns, John S Kelly and Catherine Shaughnessy residing in the township of Toronto. Witnesses: Charles Doherty, Thomas Shaughnessy, David Baites, By me Edward Gordon."  From the register entitled A Register of the Baptisms performed by The Revd. Edward Gordon, in the Townships above York, now Toronto, during his mission of three years and five months.
The earliest records vary in the amount of detail that was recorded, but here we are able to learn the names of the bride and groom, the date they were married, who the witnesses to their marriage were, and where they were living.

Starting in 1858, after An Act to Amend the Laws relating to the Solemnization of Matrimony in Upper Canada clergy were required to send marriage records to their local county officials.   Marriage registers started looking like this:

St. Michael's Cathedral Marriage Register starting 1858
In the above register, the couples' names, ages, place of residence, place of birth, names of parents (including the mother's maiden name) and witnesses and date of marriage are recorded. All very valuable information to genealogists!

St. Basil's Marriage Register starting 1858
While many registers just list the country of birth, this St. Basil's register goes so far as to list the town where each registered person is born. In this case, the groom was born in Goresbridge, County Kilkenny, Ireland.

ARCAT holds a few original registers, but most are held by individual parishes. Originals are not available to researchers, but there are a few ways to access copies. Check the ARCAT page on the archdiocesan website to find the option that is best for you. We are always available to guide you in your search.

Check here for a history of marriage records and practices in Ontario.