Forty Hours (October)
The Forty Hours’ Devotion, popularized in the sixteenth century by St. Philip Neri, consists of continuous prayer before the Blessed Sacrament solemnly exposed. The Devotion begins with a Sung English Mass and Eucharistic Procession on Wednesday evening, and closes with a Holy Hour on Friday evening.
Tenebrae (Holy week)
The Oratory celebrates the ancient offices of Tenebrae, with a polyphonic choir singing the Lamentations and Responsories and the Oratory Chant Schola singing the psalms and canticles.
Tenebrae means Darkness. This Liturgy comprises Matins and Lauds for Holy Thursday. It was traditionally sung on the evenings of Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday, originally late enough at night to be completed only on the following day. Fourteen candles, mounted on a hearse, together with the usual six candles on the altar, are extinguished one by one as the offices unfold, leaving a single candle – the Christ candle – alight, which is then hidden from view. By the time the Miserere is sung, the whole church is in darkness. The return of the Christ candle is preceded by the sudden and overwhelming strepitus, representing the earthquake that followed upon Christ’s death.
Days of Recollection (Lent, Advent)
Twice a year, on the first Saturday of Advent and the first Saturday of Lent, the Oratory offers a Day of Recollection at Holy Family Church. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. with a sung Mass and ending at 3:00 p.m. with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, each Day offers morning and afternoon conferences, running concurrently, aimed at adults, teenagers, and primary school children. Each Day has its own theme, the Rosary and Litany of Our Lady are prayed in common (replaced by the Stations of the Cross in Lent), there are ample opportunities for confession, and a chance to meet other Catholics during lunch. Baby-sitting for children under seven years old is provided, as is lunch. There is no cost for the day, but people who intend to stay for lunch are asked to make a donation to cover the cost of food. More information can be found here.
If you would like to attend one of these Days of Recollection, please contact us in advance so that we can plan for the numbers and ages of those attending.
Summer School (July)
Since 1989, the Oratory has offered a summer school for lay people, aimed at adults and older teens. There are two week-long sessions. The first is an introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The topic for the second week is more specialized and varies each year. To have attended the first session is a recommendation for enrolment in the second session.
In each session there are three classes per day, taught by the Fathers and Brothers of the Oratory. This year, the course will be offered online through Zoom. The fee is $150 per session. More information can be found here.
Marian Procession (Mother’s Day)
On Mother’s Day each year the parish processes through nearby streets, reciting the rosary and singing Marian hymns. Many of the different parish groups are involved with their own banners.
The Toronto Oratory continues the ancient Christian custom of making pilgrimages to the places sanctified by the life of Christ and the saints. Pilgrimages evoke the Church’s earthly journey toward the heavenly Jerusalem and are special occasions for renewal in prayer. Pilgrims undertake these journeys for many reasons: to honour Christ and the saints, to ask for spiritual favours or physical cures, to give thanks for some favour received, or to do penance for past sins. Over the years, several Fathers of the Oratory have led very successful pilgrimages to holy sites in Portugal, Spain, France, England, Italy, Sicily, and the Holy Land. Information about upcoming pilgrimages can be found here.
Walking Pilgrimage (late August)
The annual walking pilgrimage to Martyrs’ Shrine is open to boys and girls between grade 7 and university age. It is supervised by Fr Martin Hilbert and several adult helpers. The total walking distance is roughly 120 km, mainly along bicycle and snowmobile trails, or roads with sparse traffic. There will be daily Mass, Rosary, and other prayers. Along the way pilgrims are hosted generously by parishes in places such as Alliston, Angus, Phelpston, and at Mount Saint Louis Moonstone. Information and a registration form can be found here. Please contact Fr. Martin to register.
Life Chain (September or October)
Every year parishioners and seminarians protest silently with signs for one hour at the intersection of Keele and Bloor, praying for the country to recognize the sanctity of life.
Pabasa (Holy Week)
After the Holy Thursday Mass, the Filipino tradition of celebrating Pabasa begins in Holy Family Parish Hall, with music and prayers, running all through the night, tracing the life and Passion of Jesus.
Regular social events are held at St Vincent de Paul Parish, including concerts, parish dinners, and guest lectures. Keep an eye on the parish bulletin for announcements.