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Marians: Resilient, Resolved and Undeterred

TORONTO – There was no questioning the intensity faith or hope of the people who met for prayer at 3100 Weston Rd last night. It is the site of the Marian Shrine of Gratitude. 

3100 Weston Rd, as a location, is significant for its cultural, historical and religious Heritage. The land is part of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority because it is part of the Humber River Valley.  A century-old mansion is situated at the “top of bank” of what is basically a flood plain.

Just below it – “side of bank” – a shrine has developed, over the decades, in recognition of “divine intercession” in the lives of people otherwise in need of hope.

Recently, 3100 Weston Rd was bought by speculators, seemingly fronted by Larry Sherman (address a P.O. Box on Bathurst St) and Samuel Babarinde (CEO at AvranceCorp on Keele St). They do not appear to be practicing Catholics [Christian] – of any denomination.

More importantly, neither of them has presented a plan for redevelopment. Yet, their first tactic was to attempt the dismantling of the Shrine, to disrespect the devotees and to disparage the religion of those devotees. 

At first blush, judging from physiology and linguistics accents, people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and races streamed in the hundreds to support the Shrine and what it means for them. All drawn and encouraged via “word of mouth”.

There was no “dominant” group: Central and South Americans, Polish, Ukrainian, Italian, Arab, Southeast Asian, Oriental, Philipino, Portuguese, African… They came for their various reasons but primarily to express thanks for those reasons they felt, and continue to feel, brings them in harmony with their faith.

Thanks to the intercession of Councillor Anthony Perruzza and his colleague on Toronto’s Executive Committee, Mike Colle, the floodlights illuminating the soccer fields were turned on to provide some vision. It was nightfall when I pulled up shortly before 8:00PM. There were already some two hundred people gathering by the soccer field near a makeshift altar.

Even for some “onlookers” driven by curiosity, or, as in my case, by the need to report and explain a phenomenon that defies what some consider the narcissism that permeates today’s society.

Just in terms of numbers, it was an impressive gathering. At one point, I counted over three hundred participants in the procession, even as more and more kept streaming down the hillside. A table set up at what had become an unexpected gateway, tempered the flow, as people stopped to sign a petition to support the saving of The Shrine.


As I left at about 9:00 PM, I asked to examine the pages and lists of signators. I counted thirty blocks of signatures per page in the 25 pages I accessed. And people kept coming. I counted the cars… I stopped counting at 250, because people continued to enter onto the grounds after they had located parking spots on adjacent streets.

The City holds a Lease (expires on November 30, 2024) for use part of the property. Local MPP Tom Rakocevic, apparently a devotee, is also determined to engage the Provincial Government in the recognition and protection of this Heritage site. Teresa Lubinski, a trustee at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, caused a Motion of support to be discussed and pass unanimously at a Board meeting last month.

Two other MPPs, the Premier, Doug Ford, and the Minister for Heritage, Michael Ford, represent constituencies abutting the Humber River near the Shrine.

From the left: local MPP Tom Rakocevic, Councillor Anthony Perruzza, TCDSB Trustee Teresa Lubinski and Councillor Mike Colle

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