Missione San Domenico Savio
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Una piccola Betlemme nella communità italiana di Montréal
Affectionately called Montreal’s little Bethlehem, the Missione San Domenico Savio has been an important landmark for thousands of Italian families living in Montreal’s East-end. Since its inception in the early 1960s, this Italian Church has been at the centre of its community providing a breadth of activities and services to all of its parishioners.
La Missione’s Beginnings in Montreal
In response to a vibrant community’s spiritual needs in Montreal, Monsignors Paul-Émile Léger and André-Marie Cimichella commissioned Father Giovanni Sorgente in the early 1960s to begin raising funds for the construction of an Italian Church. While the building was erected only in 1968, a community of parishioners had already taken shape years earlier. Whether for Sunday mass or other community gatherings, throngs of Italian families assembled at the nearby French-speaking Église St. Victor and the École de la Vérendrye to talk with Father Sorgente and his followers. By then, the activities and events organized by the Roman Catholic lay organization l’Azione Cattolica, the Missione’s own Majorettes, and the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco were already in full swing. In light of Father Sorgente’s enthusiasm for this extraordinary initiative, local geographies were surpassed as Italian families in Montreal–some even outside Québec and Canada–happily contributed to the cause.
A Home Away from Home
Named after the patron saint of St. Dominic Savio, a young disciple of St. John Don Bosco, the Church is especially committed to helping the young and the young at heart. Under the guidance of its parish priests and and its army of volunteers, the Missione San Domenico Savio has forged a central place in the spiritual and community life of Montreal’s Italians. Volunteers like Maria D’Iorio have served the Missione in a myriad of ways, providing invaluable guidance and assistance to the parishioners in tandem with the Church’s religious leaders. Today, the Missione continues to thrive as a home away from home. Alongside its main pastoral activities, the Missione has consistently featured a string of support groups and events for all, including summer camps, day care services, soccer teams, exercise classes, Saturday nights for seniors, help for street kids, educational workshops, bocce club, and a constellation of festivities. The youthful spirit, kindness and generous helping hand that the Missione has shown to its parishioners over the decades has undoubtedly inspired generations to return time and again to this place they call home.