St. Wilfrid's Roman Catholic Church

Toronto, Canada

St. Wilfrid, Our Patron
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Friday, September 30, 2022

History of our Parish

St. Wilfrid's Parish was established in 1965. Located in northwestern Toronto, it covers a large territory with a diverse population of various ethnic backgrounds. Since 1952 the Capuchin Fathers had been caring for the people of this area as part of their St. Philip Neri Parish. In the early sixties, the area north of Sheppard, between Jane and Keel Street was experiencing phenomenal growth. Therefore a new parish was established to insure the adequate pastoral care for the rapidly increasing number of new residents.

In early June 1965, Archbishop Philip F. Pocock wrote to Father Robert Clune (Later Bishop Clune) about the importance of a new parish to be erected in North York. Since the new parish was situated in North York, close by the York University, it was thought fitting that St. Wilfrid, who had been Bishop of York, England be its patron saint. On June 25th, on the anniversary of St. Wilfrid' birth and the solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the new pastor Father Robert Clune celebrated holy Mass with the faithful outdoors at St. Jerome Catholic School.

The following year, the land adjacent to St. Wilfrid's School near theintersection of Finch Avenue and Sentinel Avenue was purchased. In the early months of 1968 the Diocesan Curia approved the architectural plans for the church and on May 5th, 1968 the first stone was laid. The work proceeded slowly and although the construction was not yet finished, the first community celebration was held during Holy week in 1969. On April 3, 1969, Fr. R. Clune,Fr. N. Simonelli and Fr. E. Bulfon together with an enormous crowd of faithful celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass.On August 15th, 1971, Fr. Robert Clune was appointed president ofthe "Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada". Fr. F. J Basil Breen (1971-1972) replaced him as Pastor and thereafter Fr. Cyril Robitaille gave new spirit to the community as Pastor for four years from 1972-1976. The fourth Pastor and successor to Fr. Robitaille was Msgr. Joseph Sbrocchi. On August 1st 1978 Fr. John Borean was ordained at St. Wilfrid's and was then appointed Associate pastor. During his five years Fr. Borean was very instrumental along with Msgr.Sbrocchi in both the realization of various renovation projects and in designing and building the Holy Family Chapel.In 1977 the work of embellishing the church began with the artistic Stations of the Cross. The stained glass windows were installed at the same time. The parking lot and landscaping were done by adding lighting, new grass, trees and plants. The office was totally renovated with the installation of new cupboards, desks and drapes. The church was completely repainted, the electrical wiring was overhauled and new sound system added. In addition extra pews were added and book racks were installed. In 1978 the electronic organ was installed in the Church. In 1979 the new bells rang out to celebrate the Feast of Immaculate Conception.

In 1980 the construction of the new chapel dedicated to the Holy Family began. The first stone was laid in September18, 1980. The sod breaking ceremony took place with Father Sbrocchi, Father Borean, Andy Zuliani and Stephen Zuliani. The name, "The Holy Family Chapel" was chosen in view of the fact that the main theme discussed by the Bishops at the Synod in Rome was "The Christian Family". The Holy Family Chapel was to be a refinement of style, taste for the sacred and spiritual in sacred architecture. Richard D'Wonnik, the architect who designed the parish church adapted the style of the new building to compliment the existing Church. Despite Father Sbrocchi's inventiveness, his idea ofa "Living Room for Christ" and his effective persistence with the project, when interviewed Father would give credit to Richard D'Wonnik who designed the chapel, Father Borean who designed the stained glass windows, the central scene behind the altar and the Stations of the Cross and Giuseppe Facca who constructed them in wrought iron completing the masterpiece. Fr. Simon elli and Msgr. Giuseppe Sbrocchi have both passed away. May their souls rest in peace. They will always be remembered. In 1997, Fr. Massey Lombardi became the 5th pastor of the parish.

Only God knows all who contributed to the building of the church and the chapel and we thank them all sincerely.

St. Wilfrid's Parish, Toronto