Fontbonne Place Welcomes the Neighbours
It's official! Fontbonne Place was opened, blessed, written up and celebrated on March 19, 2003. On the feast day of St. Joseph, we welcomed over 400 neighbours and friends. Fontbonne Place, located in Toronto on Queen St., offers affordable housing to 18 women. They are housed in one-bedroom apartments on the top two floors while many community-building programs take place on the lower levels of the building. Judging from the crowds, smiles and general spirit, the day was a success.
To Bless and Open
The morning's program, covered by CBC and CTV, saw Toronto City Councillor, Joe Mihevc, bring greetings from the city. He affirmed the Sisters of St. Joseph, who, he said, are known for "comforting the afflicted and for afflicting the comfortable with your quest for social justice." He presented a plaque from the city to Sr. Margaret.
MPP for Toronto Danforth, Marilyn Churley, underlined the importance of affordable housing, mentioning that as a single parent, she had experienced this need in her own life.
General Superior Sister Margaret Myatt thanked all involved, including "all of our Sisters whose interest and commitment to this endeavour was translated into prayer." She also called on Mother Delphine to "keep her energy flowing down on this house and all involved in this ministry."
A resident, Elizabeth, traced her journey from having a good job and security to developing health problems which led to a time of sleeplessness and worry as job and home fell away. Elizabeth told how, thanks to safe and dependable housing, she was able to sleep regularly again and regain control of her life.
Then, Sister Margaret and Elizabeth cut the ribbon. As a resident, Ruth, describes in her newsletter, "a net ribbon of green and white was ingeniously run from the ceremony room in the basement up through the atrium and over the front doors." Toronto's auxiliary Bishop, Bishop Grecco, then mentioned he was continuing the blessing which the Sisters of St. Joseph have brought to this community, blessing the building, rooms and doors of the building. He finished his talk with: "May the light of your presence shine forth brightly in this place and be a blessing for those who live here and for everyone who shall come into its space."
Presenting our Ministries
Volunteers, Sisters, residents and staff then gathered groups and took them on tours around the building. A PowerPoint presentation told the story of the construction of Fontbonne Place, and all the Mustard Seed ministries that take place there.
Open were Sister Patricia Macaulay's Healing Room, a place for quiet talks and counseling, the Craft Room where Sr. Barbara demonstrated her craft work, and the Community Kitchen where groups gather to cook, chat and share their lives. Display boards and wall space were used to give information on other Fontbonne ministries: the Women's Drop-in Centre, In Good Company, and the Gardening Angels. The Oratory was open to welcome one and all to its quiet space.
A Springtime Celebration
A harpist played in the morning, a pianist in the afternoon. Spring flowers, balloon trees, a quilt, and artwork brightened all spaces. Visitors came and went, some bringing flowers, cards and their best wishes. As the caterers brought out lunch, people gathered in animated groups everywhere. In the afternoon, the green and white cake inscribed with "Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto — Women's Drop-in Centre, Mustard Seed and Fontbonne Place" was cut and served.
The Last Word
And when it was all over, the last visitor gone and the greeters settled down to rest aching feet, the general feeling was well expressed by Gail in the newsletter: "Anne was right when she said those Sisters really know how to throw a party!"