Markham, Ontario - After being closed for more than a decade, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration north of Toronto has quietly re-opened its doors.
The cathedral has welcomed parishioners of nearby Jesus the King Melkite Catholic Church to use its yet unfinished space for Sunday services. The Melkite Catholics had been homeless after their Thornhill, Ont., church was engulfed in flames last October.
They were allowed into the cathedral after Helen Roman-Barber, who sits on the board of the Slovak Greek Catholic Church Foundation, which owns the cathedral, received a temporary occupancy permit from the City of Markham to accommodate the Melkite Catholics.
Despite scaffolding and ongoing construction in the cathedral’s interior, the Melkite Catholic parishioners were grateful for the space. But although once again a place of worship for Eastern Catholics, the cathedral’s original vision will never be fully realized.
It was originally conceived by Stephen B. Roman, a mining magnate and father of Helen Roman-Barber, as “a beacon for his fellow Slavs in central and eastern Europe.” Now it seems destined to become a home of ecumenical worship for all Catholic rites, said Roman-Barber.
When Pope John Paul II established the first Slovak Byzantine Catholic Eparchy in North America in October 1980, he marked Toronto as a place of preservation for the spiritual heritage of the Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church. During his 1984 Canadian visit, Pope John Paul II blessed the cornerstone and the altar stone of the cathedral, making it the first church in North America consecrated by a pope.