Monday, June 28, 2010

St. Gabriel's Catholic Church Toronto

A priest recently told me that if I want to lose my faith, then go to St. Gabriel's in North York. The priest that told me this is a Diocesan priest who only celebrates the Novus Ordo. Anyways I figured St. Gabriels was just another very liberal parish. I did not think much more about it.

Just a few days ago I ran into a friend who is about to get married in a Markham parish, by a priest from St. Gabriel's. Remembering what I was told just a few weeks before, I decided to look up St. Gabriel's. Was I ever in for a shock. I was expecting an ugly Church built between the 60's and 90's, or an older one that was "wreckovated." But I did not expect a new church that does not look at all like a church. St. Gabriels was completed in August 2006 at a cost of 10.5 million. See the picture below.

This building reminds me of the computer science building at York University.

Which one is a Church?

It could easily pass for a community center.

St. Gabriel's church has been designed to embody the eco-theology of Passionist Father Thomas Berry and his belief that the most important challenge of our time is to establish a mutually-enhancing human-earth relationship. This from here (click the link):

OK, so now we are on to something. So who is Father Thomas Berry?

Fr. Thomas Berry, C.P.
(November 9, 1914 – June 1, 2009) was a Catholic priest of the Passionist order, cultural historian and ecotheologian (although cosmologist and geologian — or “Earth scholar” — were his preferred descriptors).

Among advocates of deep ecology and "ecospirituality" he is famous for proposing that a deep understanding of the history and functioning of the evolving universe is a necessary inspiration and guide for our own effective functioning as individuals and as a species. He is considered a leader in the tradition of Teilhard de Chardin.[citation needed]

Well that explains things. Read the rest here:

Are there not Church authorities who could have prevented this Church from being built? This is one of the worst Catholic Church interiors I have ever seen. I also wonder if there are kneelers on those pews?

The Stations of the Cross.
Did they consider that the Stations are meant to be prayed, and are to be an aid to entering into prayer?

Here is a video interview with the architect. You can really get a sense of his architectural theology or lack thereof by the language he uses. It seems that worshiping the universe was more important than worshiping Christ in the design of this building. - VideoZone - Architect's new twist on stained glass

The sad thing is unlike the Churches that have been gutted but can be put back together (you can fix many Churches by putting back the high altar, communion rail, stain glass etc.), this Church needs to be bulldozed. There is no hope for this structure. A High Altar would not work here. And it was just built for a large sum of money. What a disappointment. But I can't complain too much, as this is not nearly as bad as the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles that cost 189 million dollars to build.


  1. I guess you are a classic case of a person who has their "eyes wide shut".
    God is in the details! Don't get me wrong I am a huge fan of classic churches, and am usually not a fan of contemporary work. But after spending a short time exploring the church I can say it's one of the most powerful spiritual places I've been in, in Toronto

  2. Shame about the priests there though.

  3. Architecture can inspire new ideas!! The church is in need of new ones. Im sure if the pope visits toronto this will be one the churches he visits. It is in keeping with his new message.

  4. This looks beautiful and new ways of building places of worship could be explored. I will visit it.