It is fitting that Catholic Charities Week should close today, September 29, which is also the feast of the Archangels – Sts. Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. While Catholic Charities’ patron is St. Vincent de Paul, and our history begins on Sept. 27, his feast day, St. Michael, as the patron of Toronto, is thus an inspiration and a protector for the work that Catholic Charities and our 20 member agencies engage in every day throughout this archdiocese.
It is impossible as a Catholic to lose sight of the importance of St. Michael to our archdiocese. From our great cathedral basilica to a world-class hospital and a renowned university, many major institutions bear the name of St. Michael.
While all angels are considered messengers, archangels hold the special role of chief messenger, delivering very special information. We know from the Gospel of Luke, for example, that it was Gabriel who came to Mary to inform her that she was to be the Mother of God, while Raphael, although not mentioned in the New Testament, has traditionally been known for healing.
And then there is St. Michael, our archdiocesan patron. He is associated with courage and valor and is a protector, guarding the faithful – and the Church –from evil. He is a patron to many, including the sick, and he battles for justice.
Thus, for so many of the above-mentioned reasons, St. Michael is a role model for us. His courage inspires, and for the people working in our agencies, courage is something they hope to see take root in flourish in the people they deal with each day. His message to us is one of going forward, taking on the challenges of the world to serve all we encounter.
At a time when we face so many challenges, whether it’s global unrest and unease, or fears about economic upheaval and climate change, or any of the countless issues that can cause us worry, it is reassuring to know we are not left on our own, and that Michael is guiding and guarding us.
Perhaps key to our relationship with Michael, though, is his role as defender of our faith. Catholic Charities is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching, which compels us to seek justice and equity for all, regardless of the religious beliefs of the people who seek our help. All are welcome in the Catholic Charities world. But our motivation as an organization stems from the Gospel, and the great commandment to love one another. Our work flows from the faith of the Church, and Michael’s presence in our prayer lives is therefore an important reminder of why we do what we do.
St. Michael holds a place of special significance in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Our work plays out in that very diocese, and the good people of the Greater Toronto Area support the work that we do. Therefore, our lives remain intertwined, with the wingbeat of Michael never far away, guiding us, protecting us, and leading us onward.
St. Michael, pray for us!