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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends in Christ,

Last Saturday, Mary and I had the opportunity to visit San Lorenzo on Dufferin Street in Toronto. Father Hernan Astudillo invited us to see the COVID-19 vaccination clinic set up in the parking lot of the church. In the same parking lot, fresh produce was being handed out by community partners to families in need. Well over 200 people were present that day. During the same visit we explored the studios of CHHA 1610 AM radio station, situated in the lower level of the parish rectory. The station was launched in November of 2004 and offers Voces Latinas alongside programming in other languages such as Portuguese, Italian, Punjabi and Tagalog. The station is celebrating 17 years of making connections, building community and drawing listeners to hear news in the language of their birth. It was a moving experience.

Bishop Andrew Asbil, Mary Asbil and the Rev. Hernan Astudillo tour the sanctuary of San Lorenzo, Dufferin. Photo by Michael Hudson.

Deeper still, we also had the opportunity to explore the sanctuary of the church. At the front of the church is a powerful mural depicting Jesus leading streams of people away from a past marked by war and persecution, economic unrest and poverty to the shores of this country. In Jesus’ right hand is a sign that says, The World is for All. In his left hand is a loaf of bread. Below the mural is an assortment of statues of saints, crosses and crucifixes from different countries in Latin America. Each symbol is a powerful reminder of home and of faith that fuels a pursuit toward life, hope and love. The most prominent figure among the many is a life-size statue of San Oscar Romero, the unofficial saint of the Americas and El Salvador. Romero once said, A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under everyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed…what gospel is that?

Romero was made a saint by Pope Francis on Oct. 14, 2018. He is also one of the ten 20th-century martyrs depicted in the statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey. At the end of our visit, Fr. Hernan’s grandson presented us with a miniature statue of San Romero. It will take its rightful place on my desk in the office, a reminder to me of Romero’s words…God is not satisfied with appearance. God wants the garment of justice. God wants Christians dressed in love.

San Romero takes his rightful place in a long line of saints who in their own time and space had the courage to put on the garment of justice and mercy, compassion and courage. Ordinary people who demonstrated extraordinary faith in Jesus as the one who leads us from bondage, fear and injustice to peace, healing and hope. On Nov. 1, the Church celebrates all the saints who through their lives the light of God has shone. And who by their lives and example our own faith is strengthened.

I wish you all a blessed All Saints Day.

Yours in Christ

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto