We have come together to thank and praise
In a joyful gathering of almost 200 people, families mingled with Sisters from various congregations, WRP Board Members, City Hall staff, Habitat for Humanity Toronto members, volunteers and musicians, pictured above, at Qssis Banquet Hall in Toronto on Nov. 15, 2009. The occasion: a "Welcome and Thank You Celebration" to commemorate the completion of the WRP Neighbourhood Housing effort.
Guests enjoyed the tables laden with fruit, cheese and sweets as they greeted their neighbours. A PowerPoint presentation telling the "neighbourhood story" played on a screen to the side of the hall.
"There is nothing like a dream to create the future," said Sister Jeanine Scarfone SSS, WRP Board President, quoting Victor Hugo. "Once upon a time…we Women Religious had a dream of building affordable homes for families…to provide the opportunity for these hardworking families to live their dream to own their homes. And today we are gathered here to celebrate the accomplishment of this dream – to thank those who made it possible and to welcome the families to their neighbourhood." She went on to thank everyone who had helped by name.
"First we raised, from among the 40 Women Religious congregations in the Archdiocese of Toronto, the sum of 2.1 million, plus a promise of as many prayers," said Sister Margaret Myatt CSJ, continuing the story of the Jubilee Project of 1999 that resulted in the creation on Hainford Street of 38 WRP homes, 16 Habitat for Humanity homes and 6 market-value homes. Sister Margaret thanked every partner in this project.
Other speakers expressed their pleasure at this achievement. Sean Gaddon of the city of Toronto's affordable housing praised everyone involved in the completion of this project. Toni Rossi, President of the Habitat for Humanity Toronto Board, added her congratulations.
Mitchell Cohen, President of The Daniels Corporation, pictured above between Sister Margaret, left, and Sister Jeanine, told the Sisters present, "For your passion and inspiration, we thank you." Mitchell had engaged a group for the live performance of a song he had written especially for this event, "Sisters," with some of the following lyrics:
"Praise the Lord, it's a brand new street.
Get everybody up on their feet...
Thank you Sister Margaret!
Thank you Sister Mary Rose!
Thank you Sister Jeanine!
Thank you all the Sisters!"
After the performance, everyone in the hall rose clapping. All present received a CD of the song.
Sister Jeanine then presented two bouquets of red roses: one to Sister Margaret, the first Board Chair of WRP Neighbourhood Housing, and the other to Amanda Garrett, the project coordinator.
Sister Jeanine closed the formal proceedings with a blessing that said in part, "Creator God, we have come together to thank and praise you for your many gifts to us, especially for our beautiful neighbourhood and all it contains. We give thanks to all who were involved in the various stages of this visionary undertaking…" Amen… it is completed!
Story and pictures by Gisela Côté