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Christ The King, Toronto

Christ the King Church in Long Branch began as an idea in the mind of its first pastor, Father Stephen Auad. For some years Father Auad had conducted well attended devotions to St. Anthony at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on St. Patrick Street in Toronto. Indeed, in 1933, a daily newspaper declared his shrine to St. Anthony to be among the great shrines in Canada. In 1938 Father Auad presented a proposal to Achbishop James McGuigan, then Archbishop of Toronto, to build a shrine to St. Anthony in Long Branch. The Archbishop, much worried about finances which was rather strained at that time, said no. Father Auad, crestfallen, returned to his home. His housekeeper, a remarkable lady named Mrs. Maggie Jobin, urged him to return to the Archbishop and present his proposal more firmly. Father Auad did so, even to the extent of banging on the desk. This action astounded the Archbishop, for Father Auad was truly the mildest and humblest of priests. The Archbishop is reported to have laughed till tears ran down his cheeks. Then, taking the matter seriously, the Archbishop said, "If you feel so strongly about the church, go ahead, but keep it your responsibility". Accordingly, on August 4, 1938, Father Auad was appointed the parish priest of Long Branch, and directed to build a church. The property he purchased was occupied by an old brick house which had been used as a cider plant. To convert it to a dwelling place needed scrubbing with lye to remove apple peels from the floor and walls. While the church was being built a former bank at the corner of Lakeshore Boulevard West and 40th street was transformed into a place of worship. Several parishioners remember assisting at Mass in this building. Meanwhile construction of the new church was proceeding. Its corner stone was blessed and laid on April 23, 1939 at 3pm, on which occasion Monsignor Patrick Coyle offered Mass and Monsignor James Treacy gave the sermon. On September 17, 1939, the first Mass was offered in the new church by its pastor, Father Auad. On Sunday, May 26, 1940, Archbishop McGuigan blessed the church and dedicated it to Christ the King. It was Father Auad's wish that the church be named the Shrine of St. Anthony, but the wish was refused because a church names St. Anthony's already existed in the archdiocese. Sadly, Father Auad's stay in his hard won church was short. About four years after the church was completed Father Auad died. He suffered a stroke while preaching at Midnight Mass, December 25, 1944, and died on December 26, 1944.

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