Under the leadership of our Vicar, the Altar Assistants fulfill all the responsibilities in the altar during the Holy Qurbana as well as other related duties in the parish. Annually, one among the altar assistants is appointed as the “Sacristan” (person responsible for coordinating all duties connected to the worship in the altar). Our parish is blessed to have 25+ dedicated altar assistants.
The Thanksgiving celebration culminates with the yearlong ‘Lonnie a day’ charity drive. Each family takes a charity box home and the funds raised through this ‘Lonnie a day’ drive are utilized for various charity initiatives earmarked by the General Body of the parish.
For the last few years we have continued to sponsor two needy children through “World Vision” and donated to the Sick Kids Hospital, Sister Susan’s St. Gregorios Ashram in Kerala, and participated in relief activities during international disasters like the Tsunami, Haiti Earthquake etc.
Our Parish members have been generous in their contributions, and every year the highest contributing family is presented a plaque in recognition of their generosity.
Every year by the middle of November, the parishioners enthusiastically prepare for one of the most enjoyable activities for all families. The musical instruments are dusted, the song books are rebound and a school bus is hired to go caroling. Each Sunday after the Holy Qurbana, one busload of men, women and children visit the parishioners homes in one particular area to spread the Good News of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The bus ride is particularly enjoyable as the time spent on the bus is used to learn new songs, have singing competitions or just to have a good time. Every house they visit, they are well-received by the family members with a variety of snacks and the lunch and dinners for that day are also organized by the families in the area.
The culmination of the Christmas caroling is the Christmas program at church which is usually held on the weekend before Christmas. The carol group sing a selection of carols for families that they were unable to visit. On this occasion the Sunday school organizes the Christmas Night with songs, skits and Christmas message followed by dinner.
The Parish choir is very actively involved in the regular Sunday worship and other important days in the church calendar. With a dedicated Choir Master, the regular choir practices have succeeded in making the Sunday worship melodious and well organized. The choir also participate in the Ecumenical programs in the Greater Toronto Area.
The St. Gregorios Orthodox Church of Toronto is one of the founding members of the Kerala Christian Ecumenical Fellowship (KCEF) of Toronto which includes 12 member parishes of different denominations. In the year 2010-2011 we were fortunate to lead this fellowship as our Vicar served as the President of the KCEF. Our parish actively participates in all activities like the Choir festival, St. Thomas Day. Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The annual feast of St. Gregorios (Parumala Thirumeni), our Patron Saint, is traditionally celebrated on the first Saturday and Sunday of November with the same solemnity and faith as in our home parishes in India. The “kodiyettu”, “rasa”, devotional address, benediction. Holy Qurbana, and “nercha vilambu” on the two days make this annual event a blessed occasion for all families in the Parish and other sister parishes. In addition to the Perunnal, the solemn feast of St. George is celebrated in May, and from 2012 onwards the parish will also celebrate the feast of St. Mary the Mother of God in August.
The Parish Night is the fun-filled celebration of the talents of the parishioners, organized by the MMS members of the parish and led by the managing committee. This is an evening of songs, dances, skits, comedy, socializing and of course sumptuous snacks and dinner arranged in a banquet hall which is the usual venue for this annual event. Friends and families from sister parishes and also the community are invited to join us in this celebration.
Summer is the time for the parish picnic which is usually held in the nearby Wildwood Park. Parishioners spend the day organizing sporting activities for all age groups. Managing committee members make arrangements for breakfast, lunches and the inevitable barbecue. Prizes are awarded to the winners of events at the end of the day. Members organize auction of donated items. Overall, everyone has a good time.
The parish celebrates Onam every year by organizing an ‘Onam Sadhya’ after the Holy Qurbana. This is to give our youth a taste of the most important festival of Kerala. We also celebrate Thanksgiving’ by organizing a typical Canadian Thanksgiving lunch. The parish also celebrates the 60th birthday of the parish members.