St Elizabeth church steeple against a blue sky and trees on its left and right



Dear Members of our Parish!

      I would like to express my personal thanks to all those who have helped my initial months of beginning here with their prayers, affection and concrete help or good suggestions. Without them, I would have been unable to begin my work. I ask for your continued support to enable me to continue to better serve the Saint Elizabeth parish community.
1. Joyful initiatives were begun and are continuing in our community! I felt the sense that our community wishes for a rejuvenation and is ready to make it happen.

     The 90th Jubilee year ahead of us presents the opportunity for such a rejuvenation. As part of the planning process for it: the replies to the questionnaires expressed a positive, hopeful tone, a desire for the renewal of the community. Among them by far the most common, a wish to better address and draw in our youth and young families.

     Our goal is to have, by the coming summer, a commonly compiled and agreed mission statement, laying out where we would like to go, how we want to get there and where our efforts will have to be focused. And step-by-step how to get there. It is important to see clearly and accept that we will proceed simultaneously in many areas, since they are interlinked. As but an example, the initiative with our youths will immediately require better liturgical services, availability of physical rooms, group activities and the use of modern social media.

     I am grateful that we could begin to heal the painful experiences that have struck the community. It is, and will continue to be, a long but necessary struggle: let us all work on it together!

   We have begun work in the areas of the choirs, liturgical assistants and altar servers, and there is already encouraging signs of results. There is already visible growth in the attendance of Masses. The number of marriages: 5; baptisms: almost 30; first communions:14; confirmations: 3. the number of deaths, thankfully, has not increased significantly but still said our final farewell to 37 of our brethren this year.

     This fall, the main goal was the strengthening of the existing groups, so that all can feel that they are a welcome part of the Saint Elizabeth parish's spiritual and cultural community. As part of that effort, the rules for the use of rooms and spaces has been simplified and usage fees have been waived for our internal groups. As a result, our groups can feel that this is their home, or can return: Pax Romana, the Mag dance group, the Book Club have again begun their activities; the Kodaly dance group have indicated their return starting in January, and hopefully the Scout troops will begin to make more use of the available facilities. These all serve the aim to re-initiate and renew our relationship with the Saint Elizabeth Hungarian School. Our goal is to have, by September of 2018, through calm and logical steps, addressed all the technical issues necessary for their return. It is my belief, that it is a significant portion of building for the future.

     As a new initiative, we have begun the creation of local family groups for those living further away, since Toronto and its surrounding region covers such a huge area. It takes a great effort, and not possible for many, to (always) come to our parish. We await the emergence of local groups of friends or acquaintances who would like to meet monthly and take part in some spiritual activity.
2. The Holy Mass is the central element of our community life that sustains us.

     I would like to thank the members of my Jesuit order for all their help and assistance: For Father JenÅ‘ for his years of work and, in September, in introducing me into the workings of the parish. I wish to thank Father László for all his help, especially in the areas of confessions and funerals, and Father Balázs for being with us more often on Sundays. My thanks go to Father Horrigan JP for his assistance with the English-language Masses on Sunday evenings. I wish to thank our cantors for their loyal service and their renewed effort. Many thanks go to the members of the Saint Elizabeth Scola Cantorum and the Gaude choirs for their wonderful contributions that make the Masses more beautiful by their singing. Thanks go to all the liturgical assistants (the readers of the Bible, those handing out the Host during Communion, those taking up the collections, the altar servers and the Welcome group members) who faithfully donate their time, week after week. We invite more volunteers into their groups!

3. My thanks go to all those who work around the parish, who took on so much extra work this fall, over and above their usual workload.

     Anna Szárics and Gyula Gáspár accepted, and did, many tasks beyond their everyday office work, which they accomplish with great care and love. Our superintendent, Marió Glonczi, began the step-by-step work of the building renovations, in addition to the usual cleaning and organization. Bea Reitner, joining as our new accountant, who makes it possible to view our finances from a fresh perspective, and permit the (re)building of a new future.

4. Stewardship, a common acceptance of responsibilities.

     We have, so far, spoken of goals, hopes and tasks. In this world of ours, we are more and more certain that they can only be accomplished if the community accepts and 'owns' them. We must all be part of this ownership!

     Without our volunteers, this parish would not function, will not survive!

     Special thanks must go to the Parish Advisory Council (PAC), who have helped greatly so that we would not be lost among the tremendous number of things that need to be done, for clearly expressing those goals. I ask for your help in the soon-to-be nomination and election process of its new members.

     I wish to thank the assistance of the various working groups, who have elected to help in the various areas. The renewal and enlargement of these groups, and the PAC, is going to be a major task in the beginning of the new year. Many thanks for the help of the permanent and occasional volunteers. They are overburdened; hence it is important to seek new ones in every area. It is my belief that it is the culture of volunteerism that makes it palpable to increasing number of people that the parish is 'theirs.'

     I especially want to express my thanks for the selfless and creative service provided by the members of the Körösi Csoma Sándor Program! We rely greatly on them, and the two new volunteers who will arrive next year, as part of the work of a busy year ahead of us.

     As part of the rules of the Toronto Archdiocese, the financial statement for the second half of 2017 must be prepared by January 31, 2018. following that, we will publish in the Bulletin, the financial numbers for the fiscal year 2017. For the current fiscal year, our balance sheet is stable, thanks to your generous donations.                 

     Renovations: The parish buildings are thirty years old, which means that, as good stewards, we must pay continuous attention to its state of repair. Our goal is to be able to renew its parts, year by year, so that not all renovations fall in our lap all at once. To this end, a technical assessment and audit has begun that will permit us to plan ahead. My thanks to the volunteer services of the experts in this matter. The major foreseeable tasks in this regard in 2018 will be: Our insurer has indicated the necessity of work to be done on the parking lot and the piazza in front of the church, so they must be done. The renovations to the basement rooms and bathrooms is ongoing, as much for everyday use as well as future use by the school. We would like to make our spaces more available for our elderly. A great challenge is the outdated elevator, which we would like to replace with one simpler to operate and more reliable. The sound system in the church we would like to renew to allow those hard of hearing to be able to take part. The parish sign at the sidewalk needs to be updated to make it more visible. We will need your support and donation for all that!

     We had to compile a long list, as our members live widely dispersed and want to use our facilities. Naturally, it is impossible to list and thank everyone: My thanks go out to all those who have helped, and I may have omitted. May God repay you a hundred-fold!

      In the name of myself, the members of my Jesuit order, the co-workers and all the members of the parish, I give thanks to God for this past year! May the Holy Spirit bless us with His gifts for the next year! As in the past period, pray for the renewal of our parish community, allow the Holy Spirit to show us the way, build a common purpose and give us the strength and faith for our work!

     I wish a heartfelt blessed, peaceful new year for our community, each and every one. May the new year bring the hoped-for renewal.

Fr. Forrai Tamás Gergely SJ