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Parish Partnerships, Then & Now

Looking back to the Lent 2002 edition of “St. John’s Journal,” our newly installed Incumbent, Rev. Gary van der Meer had just experienced his first Christmas season and was getting a better sense of the St. John’s community, both within the parish, and in how St. John’s related with the broader community, particularly through its varied partnerships. Indeed, Gary used most of that issue of “St. John’s Journal” to summarize the history and mutual significance of each partnership. More than two decades later, most of these partnerships continue with similar


You can read the full Lent 2002 issue of the Journal, including the “Update on Our Partners” (pages 4-8), here:

The most significant of St. John’s partnerships is with the Early Enrichment Daycare, which officially opened in the basement of 288 Humberside on November 8, 1989. The full history of the Daycare will be the focus of a separate SJWT-100th feature. St. John’s longest ongoing partnership is with the Girl Guides of Canada, which began in 1939 as a Brownies (now Embers) group. The first older-age group began in 1941. Today, St. John’s is home to the 47th Toronto Sparks (ages 5-6), the 12th Toronto Brownies (now called "Embers") (ages 7-8), the 12th Toronto Guides (ages 9-11) and the 12th Toronto Pathfinders (ages 12-14). The full history of the Girl Guides at SJWT will also be the focus of a dedicated article. Another group with a long partnership with St. John’s has been Alcoholics Anonymous, which began in 1986, starting as the Etobicoke Group and then to the High Park Group, which it continues as today. The AA High Park Group meets at St. John’s on Friday evenings, and on Sunday evenings.

Gary also highlighted several other St. John’s partnerships active in 2002, and that remain so today, including with the Order of the Holy Cross, located in the building directly to the east at High Park & Humberside. To the immediate west of St. John’s is Humberside Collegiate Institute, a regular partnership with which was “more potential than actual” in 2002, as it has remained. However, the school has rented the church as rehearsal space for recitals, and there have been several initiatives, such as “The Space,” to provide after-school space for students to study, socialize, and snack. In recent months, St. John’s has offered “Breakfast-to-Go” aimed at Humberside students on Tuesday mornings. As Gary concluded in 2002, and which still applies, “We invite your constructive suggestions for further collaboration.” Such suggestions are also certainly welcome towards the development of new St. John’s partnerships.


Originally published in St. John's Newsletter on March 18th, 2023

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