History of our parish

Lebanese emigration increased due to the wars and problems in Lebanon, and the facilitation of receiving those wishing to settle in Lebanon. A Lebanese community, residing in the city of Toronto, specifically in the suburb of Etobicoke, and a group of newcomers were gathered there. They contributed with the old brethren to establish a church in the city specific to the Lebanese community. With the generous contribution of the Antonine Order, the parish of Our Lady of Lebanon was established, and the community and order bought a large church near the city center where all Lebanese Maronites living around the city could gather, whether in the eastern suburb of Scarborough or the western suburb of Mississauga. The church became a landmark in the city and a meeting center for all Lebanese. Activities are held, and members of the community gather for acquaintance and cooperation. A dream of establishing a church in the Mississauga suburbs began to unfold when a group of people who lived in Mississauga contacted the Bishop of the diocese, Bishop Youssef Al-Khoury. The first official meeting regarding this took place at the end of 2004.

First Attempts:
After several meetings, proposals, and attempts, Father Johnny Hasbani, a monk from the parish of Our Lady of Lebanon, was appointed to shepherd the parish of Mississauga. He and the committee started trying to rent a church in the area to hold masses and pastoral activities. They made several attempts, including meeting with the Catholic bishops of the Toronto area on October 15, 2006, to propose a church that could be used temporarily until the idea was achievable. The deal was made, and we were given permission to use the Saint Famille church in Mississauga, but it was only used once during the Good Friday ceremonies. After completing his studies and obtaining a doctorate in canon law in Rome, Father Charbel Bousamra was associated with the church, and he was formally entrusted with the care of the parish by the Sovereign. He agreed with the parish priest of St. Dominic in Mississauga for a staycation of masses and the use of his church and hall for free, and the committee secured a house for the new priest, which later became the center of parish activities.

Manifesting the Dream:
The Immaculate Conception Fraternity worked hard to secure the amounts required to purchase a building or land on which to build a church for Saint Charbel’s Parish in Mississauga. After His Eminence Bishop Marwan Tabet received the Archdiocese of St. Maron – Canada, the committee had gathered from all activities to manifest the dream. All activities and donations were made possible thanks to the enthusiasm and donations of the parishioners and the efforts of Father Charbel and the committee. Their assistance and determination have led them to reach their goal and have brought people together through these efforts. The donations, which are the proceeds of their efforts, were put towards reaching the goal. After several attempts and approaches, the committee finally reached an offer to purchase a ready-made building that was the headquarters of a company. The building can be transformed to accommodate the church and its accessories and accommodate some of the activities that take place around the parish, which is one of the primary objectives of the project. The amount required to purchase the building was about three million dollars, and there was only $120,000 in the church fund. However, with the diligence, kindness, and faith of everyone, especially in Saint Charbel’s blessing, the idea of contributing was put forward by families in the amount of three thousand dollars each as a quick and direct contribution to raise one million dollars, the first payment to be accepted by the bank to cover the full amount. The required amount was collected, and the bank paid the construction price in full, with the remainder being paid in monthly installments.

Thus, in the year 2014, the parish of Saint Charbel in Mississauga became a permanent residence and an address that brings together the parishioners and makes them feel a sense of brotherhood, kinship, and partnership through faith and giving, which is manifested as love and solidarity. The new goal became to finish equipping and converting the building to become a church worthy of the name of its owner, who blessed this small flock and made it a united parish.

The building was suitable for some activities but was not able to accommodate the gathering of the liturgy in its largest hall. Therefore, the use of St. Dominic had to remain during the processing period. One of the halls was adopted for weekday use and special celebrations, which overflowed with a large number of attendees. This pushed the belief that the project will be completed and that the path taken was necessary and correct. The start of demolition and expansion of the place for the establishment of the church, which was designed to be part of the building, required that the part be paid off so that the required amount could be borrowed. However, the determination of the parishioners and the generosity of some donors, who were determined to finish the project as soon as possible, along with Saint Charbel’s inspirations, were enough to get started with demolition and construction, which began in 2016. During that time, the chapel – the shrine, which was designed to resemble the ancient churches of Lebanon, was built, and a small structure was placed on which the Holy Eucharist was held to be blessed at all times, gathering the parish and pushing its mission forward. This design is credited to one of the creators of Sons of the Parish’s committee. Thanks to persistence and effort, this shrine has become a destination for everyone to come from all over Toronto to visit the saint, who helps everyone, has compassion on them, blesses their children, and heals their patients. The scent of incense and the warmth of faith were fragrant, mingling with the prayers emanating from the hearts, giving this small church the spirituality of asceticism and the depth of attachment to the paths of the saints and Christian love that remain everything.

The demolition and construction took place during the second year after receiving the building and during about a year of work, were volunteered some to complete it, and others donated various types of mechanisms, works, or hours of work to finish it. Its structure was consecrated in the presence of His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Beshara Boutros Al-Rahi, the bishops, priests, and monks, headed by the pastor of the diocese, and of course, the parish with all its members, including young and adult faces, who shared the joy of its inauguration and structure consecration, which took place in 2018.

Saint Charbel Parish today has completed its mission with all seriousness, activity, love, and determination. Father Charbel Bou Samra handed over the trust and the church attached to it, which followed the stages of its construction, man and stone, to its new patron, Monsignor Joseph Salama. He had previously served many parishes in western and eastern Canada and many different districts and provinces. He also built a large church on the east coast in the city of Halifax before he came and took over this parish. Today, he is like the good shepherd who preceded him, supervising the follow-up of the progress and organization of this parish despite the Corona epidemic that struck the whole world. He remained insistent on his work by gathering his children and activating their work, even if it was through modern means of communication that contribute to bringing people closer and following up on business, even from a distance.