Deep Rooted Faith Always Brings Joy
by Tina Fricano
I have always been surrounded by people who lived the Gospel values. I grew up on Wellington Street and attended All Souls Parish, often times experiencing the mass in Italian. We gave thanks before meals “Grazie tanto” and before bed. Every bedroom, car, and living room hosted a spot for a cross made from the blessed palms. My grandmother prayed the rosary daily, went on parish retreats with her Church community, and my grandfather participated in Sunday mass by viewing it on the television when he fell too ill to head to Church. My closest relatives were devoted to Padre Pio and prayed relentlessly to Saint Rita on behalf of all of their loved ones. Their deep rooted faith always brought joy.
In 2004, my grandmother passed peacefully in her sleep. I was expecting my second child and soon started an extended maternity leave from my teaching job. Raising two children under the age of two years old is a busy job and without the role modeling of my grandmother or the responsibility to my students in front of me, I drifted from the Church, that being the physical home of the Lord. I still believed in God. I prayed with my children before bed. We wrote special prayers of Thanksgiving together mounted on beautiful kinder art for the big holiday feasts. Nonetheless, a void existed.
Upon returning to work, I got my family back into a religious routine and began to once again feel alive spiritually. However, it was not until I began teaching at St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School that I felt “full“. The school, parish, and community connection is incredible to witness. At St. Patrick Parish, they work tirelessly and unconditionally to build the inclusive Kingdom of God. Father Jay is a text away, the youth ministers connect to our students by learning about their interests and incorporating them into the life of the Church, the dogs visit at recess, we always have an army of altar servers, and the intermediate students volunteer at the DeMazenod Door before school begins in the morning. In my time at St. Patrick School I have called upon the pastoral team for help and am always told yes before I finish describing the details which could include anything from Father Jay blowing bubbles and Ian Ford leading a board game centre at our Mental Well Being Fair, to Brother Dan leading us in song, or Rita and Diane helping to prep for our graduation celebration, to only name a few examples. This feeling is both joyous and infectious. This summer, I was able to also get my children involved in volunteering at the DeMazenod Door. The program places no judgements, makes no assumptions, and asks no questions. Any one that knocks on their door will be fed, with food, as well as with love, hope, and faith.
We all have our crosses to bear; however, something divine happens on the corner of King and Victoria. It has taken me all of these years to finally understand the sense of community that my grandmother lived.