Archbishop Leo at the Fundraising
Banquet of Radio Maria

TORONTO – It was one of my more pleasant assignments in my short career as a journalist with the Corriere Canadese: cover the reaction of the “real people” as the newly-minted Archbishop of Toronto introduces himself to the various communities that make up his diocese.

His Grace Bishop Frank Leo is a Canadian born in Montreal of parents originating from Calabria, Italy. Most recently his mission was in the secretariat of the Vatican, serving as Chaplain of his Holiness to the late Pope Benedict XVI. Additionally, he served various Apostolic Nunciatures around the world.

Toronto is Canada’s largest diocese (Catholic population, in 2020, of 2,061,600 – 31.6% of 6,530,000 and 226 churches). Some suggest he may, in due course, be “the candidate” for cardinal when the position becomes available – years from now.

It is easy to see why. He stood at the entrance to welcome people as they came in. After the organizers of the Radio Maria event had ushered all the guests into the main hall, he moved effortlessly among the guests, making sure he greeted everyone personally.

Unsurprisingly, everyone wanted to take a picture with him. He did his best to accommodate. At points during the dinner, people lined-up to be near him. That included people from all walks of life and professions: TCDSB Trustee Theresa Lubinski; Insurance magnates Sam Ciccolini and Edward Sorbara; teachers, doctors, lawyers etc. There seemed to be room for everyone – easily 700 guests who came to dine and dance in his presence.

When, it came time for the archbishop to deliver his keynote address, the words seemed to flow from his lips with a sincerity and simplicity of message one does not often hear. The content was all about the regeneration of life, the role of Mary in the service of God and community and the steadfastness of the Christian bulwarks to help and console those in pain and suffering – all of us.

The organizers contented themselves with supporting roles to the President, Dr. John Romanelli, Director Fr. Jorge Amaro and the emcees, Christine Doyle and Sam Ciccolini. Superb performances by the Violinist-Singer, Carina Sandejas fronting the Stand Firm Worship Band and the operatic aria by Angelica Castro singing the Radio Maria Song, “Raggio di Sole”, provided the background for the organization’s marquee event of the year.

Radio Maria is the “Catholic Voice” (on air) for practitioners of the faith Catholics in the listening area of Southern Ontario.

In the pics, Archbishop of Toronto Frank Leo with people and the Archbishop with Theresa and Priscilla Pajdo

P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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