創堂司鐸 - 陸之樂神父
天主教真福曹桂英堂是從香港派駐加拿大的意大利米蘭宗座外方傳教會司鐸陸之樂神父於一九九二年創立, 取命真福依搦斯是為紀念中國殉道真福曹桂英依搦斯。真福曹桂英依搦斯於二零零零年被教宗宣封為殉道聖人, 堂區名稱也隨之而命名為天主教聖曹桂英堂。
陸神父自晉鐸以來, 於港九多個堂區及天主教中小學服務,甚得學生及教友愛戴。一九九二年, 能操流利廣東話的陸之樂神父被米蘭宗座外方傳教會委派前來多倫多服務華人社區。同年六月, 陸神父去函多倫多教區主教作初步成主堂區申請。十二月六日在基督君王學校首祭彌撒。十二月十五日獲主教批准堂區命名為 “真福依搦斯天主堂”, 兩天後, 多倫多主教府正式批准堂區成立。
一九九三年二月二十一日,多倫多輔理主教親臨主持委任陸之樂神父為本堂司鐸。鑑於本區華人信眾日益增加, 陸神父認為必須要一間屬於我們的聖堂。於是他在一九九三年六月向多倫多主教府申請撥地建堂, 同年十一月獲撥地兩英畝(現址)。
陸神父於獲撥地後立即展開籌款活動, 經多年努力, 籌集建堂基金成績甚為理想。可是因建築成本高漲, 建堂費用倍增, 故未能及早動工興建新堂。一九九八年,陸神父因健康理由, 未能親自完成建堂理想, 期後返回意大利休養, 安享晚年。
陸神父常掛在口邊的名曲 “讚美主”, 仍在各聚會中流傳, 陸神父的歡笑聲及他的工作精神, 將永遠活於我們心中。
二零零二年九月二十二日, 陸之樂神父特別回到我們當中, 參加新堂祝聖典禮, 並為地庫以他命名的 “陸之樂堂”主持揭幕。親眼看見心願成真。
Founding Pastor - Fr. Nicola Ruggiero, P.I.M.E
P.I.M.E (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) was founded in Italy in 1850. An association of Priests and Laymen who dedicate their lives to missionary work, its mission is to take care of the spiritual and physical need of the poor, the sick and the aged in countries all over the world.
Fr. Nicola Ruggiero, an Italian who genuinely considered himself Chinese, has been a missionary in the Chinese communities in Hong Kong for more than forty years. Speaking very fluent Cantonese, he was sent by the P.I.M.E to look after the Chinese community in Toronto in 1992.
With the grace of God, the untiring efforts of Fr. Ruggiero and the help of many faithful who devoted so much time and energy, the establishment of a Catholic Mission was approved after six months of preparation work.
In June 1992, Fr. Ruggiero began the establishment of the Parish by writing a letter to the Archdiocese of Toronto for the initial application. The Parish celebrated her first Mass at Christ the King Catholic Elementary School, Richmond Hill on December 6, 1992.
Fr. Ruggiero received the approval of the Title "Blessed Agnes Kouying Tsao Catholic Mission" on December 15, 1992. Our Prayer was answered. Two days later, on December 17, 1992, The Decree of Establishment was granted.
On February 21, 1993, Most Rev. Robert B. Clune, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto officially installed Fr. Nicola Ruggiero as Pastor of the Mission.
In light of the number of Chinese Canadians growing in the Greater Toronto Area, Fr. Ruggiero, with the encouragement and support of many parishioners, filed an application for a site to build a parish church on June 11, 1993.
With a lot of communication and negotiation efforts, a permit was granted on November 3, 1993 to set aside our current location for a new church. The permission for a fundraising campaign was given on July 8, 1993.
With confidence and hope, Fr. Ruggiero started the establishing of the Parish structure, the Parish Council and servicing groups. At the same time, campaigns to support the Church Building fund were under way.
In 1998, when the construction plan was gearing forward, Fr. Ruggiero's health failed him and prohibited him to continue. In the same year, our beloved Founding Pastor retired in Italy. His favorite song "We thank God in the Morning, at Noon and in the Evening" is still being sung on many occasions. His gentle smile and warm hearted deeds will always be remembered.
Fr. Nicola Ruggiero was welcomed back to celebrate the Parish's 10th anniversary and Consecration Mass of the new church on September 22, 2002. He officially opened "Ruggiero Hall", the church's basement hall named in honour of Fr. Nicola Ruggiero.