Outside of Holy Name Church

Holy Name Church


Holy Name Parish was established on September 11, 1913, a time when the city of Toronto was rapidly expanding eastward beyond the Don River. An eight-room Catholic school had already been built just south of the Danforth in 1912. The next logical step, taken with the support of Archbishop Neil McNeil, was to build a church. A provisional chapel was erected and the first mass was celebrated there on October 5, 1913, with 275 people in attendance.


Monsignor Cline

It would fall to Holy Name’s founder and first resident pastor, Father Michael Cline, to undertake the hard work of parish organization and construction. Both Father Cline and the Archdiocese had great plans for Holy Name, and by August of 1914, construction of a proper church had begun. But world events conspired to interrupt the building. In the same month that work began on the church, World War I was declared, and construction of Holy Name was put on hold as workmen all over the city enlisted in the army. Nevertheless, three months after the beginning of the war on November 14, the great cornerstone, (which can still be seen to the left of the front doors of the church) was laid during a ceremony attended by 3000 people and performed by 35 priests. The new church was named by Farther Cline as a monument to the Holy Name of Jesus. 


For the next six years, Holy Name parish grew rapidly. Masses were celebrated in the only part of the church that was complete- the basement- but it soon became clear that a bigger church and a parish hall were needed. In November, 1921, a hall was completed, with full kitchen facilities and modern heating, able to accommodate 600 people.


The construction of the main church was completed in 1926 and the doors solemnly opened and were blessed on March 14 of that year. The new church was designed in the style of Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) in Rome and was built of stone imported from Indiana. Over the main doors the statement that motivated its founders was engraved: “In nomine Jesu omne genu flectatur”- “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend” (Philippians 2:10).


Holy Name Church Outside

Holy Name continued to be a centre of Catholic community life on the Danforth throughout the Great Depression and World War II. Father Cline became Monsignor Cline and remained at Holy Name until his death in 1947. His successor, Father Leo Smyth, remained pastor until 1979, and oversaw additions to Holy Name School in 1949, 1957, 1961 and 1968 to accommodate the rapidly expanding young Catholic population along the Danforth. 


Fr. Smyth

Father Smyth and the congregation of Holy Name welcomed waves of new immigrants to Canada during those years. Masses in Italian were celebrated at Holy Name until, with Father Smyth‘s help, the Italians of the Danforth were able to establish their own parish, St. Catherine of Siena. This tradition of vibrant diversity continues today at Holy Name with the presence of the African Catholic community, as well as parishioners who hail from the Caribbean, the Philippines, India and Latin America, enriching the founding communities of Irish, Scottish and English Canadians who were the mainstay of parish life in the early years.


Holy Name Church Inside


With the inauguration of Vatican II in 1963, Holy Name was caught up in the sweeping changes that were implemented to revitalize every aspect of the life of the Church. In 1967, a new altar was positioned so that the celebrant could face the congregation during Mass. The organ and choir were moved from the gallery on the second floor to the main floor to encourage congregational singing. The side altar became the repository of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Communion railing was removed. Alterations in the liturgy and the greater participation of the laity were long-term innovations that changed how the people of lived and worshipped in their Parish. 



Holy Name Church Inside History


Middle aisle

Today, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary, with the guidance of the priest from the Congregation of Holy Cross, Holy Name continues to encourage it’s parishioners to build upon their faith. Ultimately, the ambition of Holy Name Parish in 2013 is to confront with faith, hope and humility the challenges facing the Church in this generation, and to pass on a rich,Christ–centred, community- oriented heritage to the next generation. In 1927, Monsignor Cline wrote that Holy Name required “the close attention and fostering care of ardent friends.” As we celebrate the 100th anniversary, that statement remains just as true as it was at the beginning of the life of our parish.







1913    September 11th Parish established by Archbishop McNeil.           

             Father Michael Cline appointed as 1st Pastor.   

             October 5th First Mass was celebrated at 9 am by Rev. Gregory Kernaham in Danforth Chapel (2nd floor of school - no classrooms)

             275 people were present.


1914    June: Brick sale held $0.25 each (proceeds to building presbytery)

            July: Excavation for church should be finished by end of month - payment of $13,000 due.


1915   April 7th: First sod turned for presbytery.  Sod was turned by April 7, 1915.  And was formally opened and occupied October 16, 1915.

           November 14th: Cornerstone of Church laid by Bishop Power of St. George's Newfoundland at 3 pm with 3,000 people and 35 priests present.


1916  May 31st: Church (now the hall) was blessed and occupied, now 3 Masses on Sundays.


1920  March: Building of Parish hall began on grounds, land leased from school board (North end of School)


1921  June 23rd: Fr. Cline sang his jubilee Mass, 25th Anniversary for the parishioners at 6:00 am.

          June 27th: Pew payment discountinued everyone expected to give $0.10 for your seat at the door.

          December: A new crib with all the characters of the Nativity included was ordered.  While not any great work it will be unique in that it is different from                 

          anything else in the church at a cost of $150 (We are still using it).


1926  March 14th:  The church will be formally opened and dedicated by his Lordship Bishop McDonald at 10 o'clock.  The Pontifical Mass will be sung by his                 

          Lordship Bishop O'Brien of Peterborough at 10:30 a.m.

          March 21st: Stations of the Cross were blessed last Friday by Bishop McDonald.


1927  October: Book - Holy Name Parish 1913-1917 written by Fr. M. Cline published and sold within the parish.


1928  June 3rd: Father Leo Smyth - the first Holy Name boy called to the priesthood - sang the 11 o'clock Mass in conjunction with which was celebrated the                     

          Golden Jubilee of his parents.


1935  September 29th: Fr. Cline invested as a Monsignor along with 6 others at St. Michael's Cathedral.


1940-42   Red Cross Workers from parish meet in hall weekly - war effort.

                 March 29th: The debt of $310,000 contracted in 1916 and 1926 is now reduced to $80,000.


1944       February 13th: Today is dollar Sunday to raise money for the 1st Sound System.


1945       June 17th: Next Sunday the pastor, Msgr. Cline will celebrate his Golden Jubilee.


1946      November 24th: The Ex Service men and women of Holy Name in the last war will be the guests of this parish at a public banquet Thursday at 7 o'clock,                 

              which was a social success.


1947    June 28th: As you know, your pastor, Msgr. Cline died yesterday morning.  His funeral will be held from this church on Tuesday at 10 o'clock.

            October 12th: This morning after the 11 o'clock Mass.  His Excellency Bishop Webster will officially introduce the new Pastor, Father Leo Smyth to the                   

            people of Holy Name Parish.


1966   Holy Name sanctuary was redesigned to refect the changes inaugurated by Vatican II.


Early 1970's  Fr. Donald MacLean was Associate Pastor.


1973  June 23rd:  Old Parish Hall on school property demolished.


1978  June 4th: Fr. Leo Smyth celebrated 50th Anniversary to the priesthood.


1981  Fr. Ambrose Sheehy was pastor.  November 28th: Sanctuary Crucifix bought and blessed.  Statue of Our Lady of Good Counsel refurbished and replaced on the side                altar as well as putting a new hanging sanctuary lamp for the tabernacle.  He began a Junior Praesidium for the Legion of Mary and had monthly talks for the laity on              living the faith in the world, with speakers coming from acrss the diocese.


1985  May 5th: Fr. Tom McKillop appointed Pastor.

          June:  Fr. Tom decided to turn altar boys room into a chapel.  Fr. Patrick McCarroll painted a portrait of Jesus for the chapel. 

          Sunday, October 6th: 9 am - Beginning of children's program at 9 am Mass.


1989   May 28th: Fr. Tom McKillop celebrates 25th Anniversary of His Ordination.

           June 18th:  Holy Name Church 75th Anniversary Mass and Reception.

           December 17th: First Pastoral Council was established.


1990  March 4th: First Liturgy Meeting.


1991  March 24th: Fr. Tom was honored at Annual Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association - honorary award for his work with Youth Corps.


1993  December 15th - Fr. Tom McKillop leaves as Pastor and Fr. Bill Comerford comes as Pastor.


1999  March 28th: First Annual Danforth Good Friday Walk (Stations of the Cross)


2001  June 27th: Fr. Bill Comerford leaves as Pastor.  Fr. Peter Power comes as Pastor.


2003  November 16th:  New Holy Name Parish Website.


2004  November 14th: 90th Anniversary Mass and Reception.


2005  September 18th:  Holy Cross Fathers came to Holy Name with Fr. Andrew Morasse, C.S.C. as Pastor.

          November 25th:  Fr. Tom McKillop honoured for being appointed to the Order of Canada.


2008  February 24th:  St. Francis De Sales Deaf Community moved to St. Stephen's Chapel.


2009  July 4th: African Catholic Community came to the parish.


2010  October 17th: Brother Andre became a Saint.


2014  September 28th:  Holy Name celebrated 100 years of service along with African Catholic Community at a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Collins with 12 priests and present and past parishioners attending.