About Saint Thomas More
Deacon Jim McLevey (Right) is a familiar face to most parishioners at St. Thomas More parish. Jim and his wife, Anne and four children emigrated from Glasgow Scotland to Canada in 1969. He entered the Diaconate Program in 1972 and was ordained on June 25, 1977 in St. Thomas More Parish. He has served in the parishes of St. Thomas More, St Andrews, Eastern Passage, St. Michael’s, Spryfield, and St. Mary’s Basilica. In 2005, he was assigned to the Port of Halifax as Chaplain, and then in 2008 while still chaplain of the Port of Halifax, returned to St. Thomas More. He and his wife Anne have been involved in the ministries of catechetics, RCIA, Baptism preparation, marriage preparation, at parish and diocesan levels, teaching Natural Family Planning – the Billings Ovulation Method, in the diocese plus Antigonish, Yarmouth and PEI and in the pro-life movement, and ministry to shut-ins, hospitals and nursing homes.
Fr. Toochukwu Okafor (Center) was ordained in Nigeria on July 11, 1998. He joined the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth in 2009. There he served as Associate Pastor at St. Mary’s Basilica in Halifax from 2009-2010. He most recently served as Parish Priest at St. Genevieve in East Chezzetcook and Saint Phillip Neri Mission in Musquodoboit Harbour from 2010 – 2014. He moved to St. Thomas More paish on September 8, 2014. We pray God bless him and his priestly ministry among us.
Deacon Danny MacDonald (Left)- (Ordained on August 6, 2016 in Halifax)
Danny was raised in Trenton, NS, by a French Canadian mother and a Scottish father. Terry and Hugh MacDonald. His Uncle was a priest with Scarborough Missions who served parishes in Japan for several years. He wanted to go into the ministry for many years and have studied and gone through the formation process for the past seven years He previously worked as a television director for Shaw Cable and currently works as an Administrator of Parishes and Schools at Chalice. Chalice is a Catholic organization that seeks to help those in developing countries to increase access to education and healthcare for those who may not otherwise have access. He travelled to Kenya with Chalice and had a life changing experience. Danny has been married to his wife, Tamera for the past 14 years and their marriage has been blessed with a beautiful daughter named Mackenzie. Danny is known to his wife and daughter as the goofiest man on the planet. He also has two sons, Brian and Brandon, who are married and are living in Saskatoon and Florida. He hopes to dedicate his life to growing in a better relationship with God and to help others in their journeys in life. He is very pleased to be assigned to St. Thomas More Parish and to serve God by serving his church..
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is with great joy and humility that I share these few words with you as I begin my pastoral ministry among you here at St. Thomas More’s parish. I thank God and the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth for giving me this opportunity to share the gifts of life and faith with you. I also thank each of you for your warm welcome and hospitality. In Mark’s gospel chapter 3:31-35, we read that responding to the crowd who told him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside asking for you”, Jesus replied, “… whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother”. In the above passage, Jesus was in no way rejecting his mother – the Blessed Virgin Mary – for she was the first to do the will of God (Luke 1: 38). Rather with that statement, Jesus teaches that he has come to establish a universal human family based not on biological or blood affinity but on faith in God and in doing His will.
It is this faith in God and our desire to do His will that has brought us together and made us one family in Christ irrespective of our race, culture, colour or gender. It is based on this same faith that you have welcomed me into your community with love and open arms. Although I am from Nigeria, the Lord in His divine providence has brought me into your lives to share our faith and our life experiences – our joys, pains and sorrows. Therefore, like Jesus, I take you to be my father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends. I don’t have any other family here except you. And as St. John Vianney would say, “I am here because of you and I am among you as one who serves.”
In my ministry as a priest, my prayer whenever I am sent to any mission or parish has always been, “Dear Lord, help me to see you in each person that I encounter and may they see you in me.” Like a newly married couple or new friends, we need some time to build our relationship. Therefore I request that we be mutually patient and not walk away from each other no matter what. Most importantly, it is possible that coming from a different culture, I may not meet all your expectations but I will try my possible best to learn and to adapt to the new environment and I cannot do this without your help. So I count on each one of you.
As we strive to build a dynamic and healthy Christian community, it is important to understand that we are all in this together and that it is not always easy to respond to the challenges of the Gospel. But we do not journey alone for the Lord is with us and He never abandons those who put their trust in Him. I learned from my predecessor – Fr. Randy Doucette and from so many people in the Archdiocese that this is a beautiful parish with wonderful and dedicated parishioners. I pray that we continue with that same spirit. Each of us is unique with different gifts and talents. May we continue to use them in building up the kingdom of God here at St. Thomas More and in our Archdiocese and make our parish an ideal community of faith where love, peace, unity and joy in the Spirit can be experienced by all who worship with us. May God bless you and your families. I love you all!
Father Toochukwu Okafor
September 14, 2014
A Brief History About Our Parish
The history of Saint Thomas More Parish began in early 1950 with the establishment of a mission under the charge of Saint Peter’s Parish, Maple St., Dartmouth, to serve Catholics residing in five areas of East Dartmouth. Fr. William Smith, pastor of St. Peter’s, purchased property at Grahams Corner, near the approaches of Waverley Road and the Eastern Shore highway, in order to build the mission’s church. Whebby Construction laid the foundation, erected the steel frame, shingled the roof and roughed in the walls; interior finishing work was done on a volunteer basis by members of the new mission. The simple, functional building, which consisted of a chapel and church hall, was ready for occupancy in the fall of 1951.
The mission’s members wasted no time in organizing themselves into a Men’s Council and a women’s group which became a council of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada on March 5, 1952. To raise the funds needed to build and furnish the church, the two groups collaborated in 1950 on staging an Old-Time Fiddling Contest – the first of many the parish’s Council of Catholic Men would sponsor over the years – in the still unfinished church.
In the spring of 1954, the mission became Saint Thomas More Parish, with Fr. George Hooper appointed as its first parish priest. An addition was built onto the church to serve as his office and living quarters. It wasn’t long before Fr. Hooper began making plans for construction of a school, convent and rectory to serve the needs of his growing parish. These plans, however, had to be scrapped when the Province of Nova Scotia informed the diocese in 1959 that the perimeter of the parish property would be expropriated for construction of a roadway interchange that became known as the MicMac Rotary.
Although the church building was not to be directly affected by the expropriation, the parish would have been left without sufficient land for future expansion. Seeking to accommodate the parish’s growth and the needs of its parishioners, the parish purchased from Saint Peter’s a parcel of land on the corner of Main Street and Caledonia Road and signed a contract with Harbour Construction of Dartmouth for construction of a new church and rectory. These two buildings, according to the original design by architect Graham Hooper, brother of Fr. Hooper, were to be part of a larger complex that would eventually include an attached school and convent. As a result of a change in diocesan policy in regard to schools, the second phase of construction was never undertaken.
Work on the church began in August 1960 and was completed in late January, 1961. The exact date of the first Mass celebrated in the church is unknown, but it is likely that parishioners were worshiping there by February, 1961. On July 9, 1962, then the feast of St. Thomas More, Archbishop Berry consecrated the church and blessed the cornerstone, which is located at the front of the church, to the left of the sanctuary. Following tradition, several items, including a list of parishioners and a copy of the first parish bulletin, were deposited behind the stone before it was sealed.
The documents of the Second Vatican Council, which began on October 11, 1962, just four months after the dedication ceremony, called for changes to church interiors that necessitated making alterations to the newly built St. Thomas More Church. In 1985, the church underwent a major renovation of the sanctuary that considerably changed its appearance, while remaining true to the original architectural vision expressed by Graham Hooper in his design for the church. In 2006, further renovation was undertaken to create a chapel for the reserved Blessed Sacrament by connecting the original baptistery with the nave of the church.
From the establishment of the parish until 1966, catechetical instruction of the parish’s children was handled by postulants of the Sisters of Charity. From their departure until 1970, the program was coordinated by Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, who were assisted by many lay volunteers. For the next ten years, volunteers coordinated the large and complex religious education program, which required the parish to rent space in three area schools and depended upon the services of up to 125 volunteers. In 1980, the first paid Director of Religious Education was added to the parish staff. Today, the religious education program can be housed within the church, but the parish still depends on volunteers to help educate its children in their faith.
Spurred on by the documents of the Second Vatican Council and with the encouragement of their parish priests, the laity of St. Thomas More Parish became keenly involved in other areas of parish life as well. Today, the parish of Saint Thomas More continues to be a growing spiritual family with a diversity of ages and ethnicities represented.
Reverend George Hooper, 1954-1966
Reverend Lloyd Robertson, 1966-1968
Reverend Henry Kline, 1968-1974
Reverend Robert McDougall, 1974-1981
Reverend Donald Boudreau, 1981-1989
Reverend Paul Williams, 1989-1997
Reverend Joseph MacKinnon, 1997-2003
Reverend Ireneusz (Irek) Bem, S.D.S., 2003 – 2008
Reverend Ronald Cairns, 2008-2011
Reverend Randall Doucette, 2011-2014
Reverend Toochukwu Okafor, 2014