Saturday 10 September 2011

St. Lawrence the Martyr -- Scarborough's New Home for the Traditional Latin Mass

Fifteen years ago, under the former indult of Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, the usus antiquior found a home in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough and just a stones throw from St. Augustine's Seminary. For a short-time in 2008-2010 this was the home of the Toronto Apostolate of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

The Mass in the Extraordinary Form at this Church was always a struggle. While 1:00 in the afternoon was not the best time, it was not the biggest obstacle to growth. The location was out of the way and hard to reach on public transit and parking was non-existent. Moreover, what was lacking was a clear sense of parish life and community which was common with the old "indult" situation. The people of St. Theresa parish had little to zero to do with the strangers that came for the Latin Mass at 1:00 and vice-versa. I can recall even one Sunday as Schola Master that a visiting priest, was literally yelling at us to get out so he could "perform a baptism."

Thankfully, those days are now over.

After the departure of the Fraternity of St. Peter, a diocesan priest was appointed as Chaplain to this congregation in addition to his regular parish duties in Richmond Hill, 45 minutes away.

In July, the Archdiocese of Toronto made its annual pastor changes. From St. Elizabeth Seton in Newmarket to St. Lawrence the Martyr in Scarborough came a Pastor friendly to the traditional Mass. So friendly in fact, that every Friday night and Saturday morning, the Mass was celebrated at his former parish by the priest who served long at St. Theresa and still celebrates every Sunday at St. Patrick's in Schomberg. St. Lawrence the Martyr on Lawrence Avenue is only about a ten minute drive from St. Theresa's. With this it the Archdiocese of Toronto saw the light and the the priest from Richmond Hill is now based at St. Lawrence the Martyr as well.

Now, in addition to the Toronto Oratory Church of St. Vincent de Paul west of Yonge Street the people who desire the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in the east end of Toronto now have a welcoming Pastor, a beautiful church, a resident priest, parking, public transit, a church hall and can truly become part of a parish community something so desperately lacking previously at St. Theresa Shrine.

The Mass at St. Lawrence the Martyr is Sundays at 1:00 as well as a weekly schedule. The Sunday Mass is celebrated as a Missa Lecta or Read Mass; what is frequently referred to as Low Mass. However, there is music provided, though not the complete Ordinary and not the Propers as this is not a Missa Cantata (Sung Mass) commonly referred to as a High Mass.

According to the most recent rubrics from 1962, music for the Missa Lecta is permitted in the following manner.

Processional: Organ or a hymn in Latin or English
Kyrie; but it must be a short setting
Offertory: Organ or a hymn in Latin or English but it must reflect sacrifice or offering.
Sanctus ; a short setting
Agnus Dei, a short setting
Communion: Organ or a hymn in Latin or English but it must be oriented to the Eucharist or thanksgiving
Recessional: Organ or hymn in Latin or English

St. Lawrence the Martyr was built in 1960 and is the last of an era. Looking at the church's exterior one can see that the Italian residents of this part of Scarborough used a design that they would have known from Italy. Yellow brick, red tiled roof, two towers; it is clearly the most beautiful church east of the downtown. Along with St. Benedict's in Etobicoke, it is one of the finest churches built in the Archdiocese of Toronto in the post-war period. As in any Italian parish, expect beautiful and abundant statues and lots of terrazzo and marble. While if one looks carefully at the floor of the sanctuary the design shows where the High Altar once stood but don't let that dissuade you. The Tabernacle is in the middle on a beautiful Altar of Repose.The new sanctuary floor blends wonderfully with the original terrazzo, the colours and marble are uniquely blended. The Altar of Sacrifice is of marble and solid and of exquisite design with a matching Ambo or Pulpit of dignity and beauty. The acoustic is lively, very lively and there are some interesting notes on the matter regarding the new organ.

The Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Collins is deserving of the prayers and thanks of those who desire to worship in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in this part of Toronto as does the most welcoming Pastor, Father Roy Farrell. The parish is also assisted by Father by Associate Pastor, Father Ion Bolog with Father Steven Szakaczki as Chaplain for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and Father Liam Gavigan, In Residence.

St. Lawrence the Martyr Scarborough is located at 2210 Lawrence Avenue East between Birchmount Road and Kennedy Road.

The Mass schedule is:
Sunday 1:00
Monday-Wednesday 11:00
Thursday-No Mass
Friday: 7:00 P.M
Saturday: 10:00 A.M.

(weekday Masses are subject to change or cancellation depending on funerals and the availability of the priest)


  1. This is an excellent place, very near to my place. Long to be with you guys in worshipping God in the Latin Rites. It makes my heart elivated to a higher level in praising God in its ancient form.

  2. Thank goodness you have the daily mass times listed. I couldn't find them on the parish website anywhere!!???? All i could learn from that site was that they had Latin mass once on Sundays.