Catholics pray that Toronto Marian Shrine is saved from destruction
For almost 20 years, the Shrine has been a place of worship for people of different faiths, not just Catholics. It's been open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and it's offered a place of spiritual growth, prayer and contemplation.
The Shrine currently belongs to the Ukrainian Basilian Fathers. As an act of gratitude, Father Basil Cembalista built it in 2005, after he had had an accident while building a tomato garden on the property. A twig poked through his retina and he was told by doctors that he would never see through the eye again. He asked Mother Mary to save his eye and reportedly was completely healed.
Father Cembalista passed away in 2018 at the age of 78. He had never needed glasses from the day he was healed. His focus was to build an altar, to give thanks to Jesus and mother Mary for listening to his prayer.
According to Angela Carboni, the founder and director of the charity St. Bernadette’s Family Resource Centre: “This shrine is a gift to Toronto from our Lady, and God is working for his people. This is a little bit of heaven in the city. And if God has given us this gift, He will provide. However, on Friday, August 11, we were told to take our things away from there and that on August 16th, security guards would come there and stop anyone from going there anymore.”
Carboni says there have been many claims of healing from visitors. For the past 20 years, the shrine has empowered believers and bestowed the beauty of God’s creation through its gardens and flowers. She notes that the many statues throughout the shrine point to the higher realities which go beyond the earthly world.
Carboni became connected to the shrine when she used to rent rooms out at the property to run programs for developmentally challenged adults. After a visit to Lourdes, she wanted to bring the Marian procession to the shrine in Toronto.
The shrine had been in danger of closing down previously. In 2016 the lease of the property was at risk of not being extended. A petition to keep the it open received more than 5000 signatures, and the shrine was saved.
Carboni has been hopeful that she could raise funds to purchase the property and save the shrine. “I’m not afraid. I’ve seen kids and young men that are about 20 years old that are on their way home from a date or on their way home from work that would stop to light a candle for Mary. I have seen people on their knees climbing the staircase to the statue of Jesus on the top of the hill thanking Him for graces received.”
Sadly, according to the latest news, all plans to raise funds to purchase the shrine have been cancelled.