Meet the Staff
Fr. Toochukwu Okafor
Contact Fr. Toochukwu
Strengths: Developer, Harmony, Restorative, Relator, Connectedness.
Fr. Toochukwu was born and ordained in Nigeria in 1998. He joined the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth in 2009 and was appointed the pastor of Saint Thomas More parish in August 2014. His passion for New Evangelization and parish renewal motivated him to bring our parish into the Divine Renovation Network in September 2017. When asked about his vision for the parish, he said, “I would like our parishioners and those who come to worship with us to have a personal experience of God’s love, the mercy of Jesus Christ and the joy of the Holy Spirit. I would like to see our parish become more alive and vibrant, with young families, children and the youth attending. I would like everyone to feel a sense of belonging, empowered to joyfully bear witness to their faith. We are blessed to have so many committed men and women in our parish. I believe with the grace of God and the collaboration of all, we can bring the Good News of God’s love to those who are not in our pews, the poor and needy. I invite everyone to come on board ‘for together we are stronger.'”
Deacon Jim McLevey
Contact Deacon Jim
Deacon Jim is a familiar face to most parishioners at Saint 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 Saint Thomas More Parish. He has served in the parishes of Saint Thomas More, Saint Andrews (Eastern Passage), Saint Michael (Spryfield), and Saint 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 Saint Thomas More. Deacon Jim and his wife Anne have been involved in the ministries of catechetics, RCIA, Baptism preparation, pro-life ministry, and ministry to shut-ins, hospitals and nursing homes. They have also been involved in marriage preparation at parish and diocesan levels, teaching Natural Family Planning (the Billings Ovulation Method) in Halifax, Antigonish, Yarmouth and PEI.
Deacon Danny MacDonald
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Deacon 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 ministry for many years while he worked as a television director for Shaw Cable. He currently works as an Administrator of Parishes and Schools at Chalice, a Catholic organization that seeks to help those in developing countries to increase access to education and healthcare. Danny has been married to his wife, Tamera for the past 14 years. They have a daughter Mackenzie, who knows him as the goofiest man on the planet, and two sons, Brian and Brandon, who are both married and live in Saskatoon and Florida, respectively. He was ordained as a deacon on August 6, 2016 in Halifax. 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 Saint Thomas More Parish and to serve God by serving his Church.
Pastoral Associate of Pastoral Ministries, Engagement, and Evangelization
Strengths Finder: Connectedness, Learner, Developer, Individualization, Empathy
Becca is an American, and grew up running around the woods of Minnesota. She was raised Catholic and fell in love with Jesus more deeply at Franciscan University, where she received a BA in Theology and in Catechetics. At the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado, she received her MA in Leadership for the New Evangelization and then worked on the parish implementation team for formed.org, the Catholic faith formation website. She met her fiance Chris O’Hara while working for the Steubenville Conferences’ Franciscan LEAD program, and moved to Halifax in June 2018. Becca and Chris will get married in June 2019 in Minnesota. She is excited to serve this parish because she loves Jesus and wants to bring as many people to love Him as possible.
Catherine calls herself a cocktail as she is born in India, grew up in Pakistan and Bangladesh and spent a few years in the Middle East. She came to Canada in 1996 and was pleased to call it home. She is married to Keenan for 46 years and has two lovely daughters, wonderful sons-in-law and 2 precious grandchildren who are the joy of her life. Catherine is raised Catholic and is happy to talk about Jesus wherever she is and how He is Lord and Master of her life. She enjoys volunteering and plays an active role in the Catholic Women’s League. She is also a Lector and a Eucharistic Minister and volunteers at Feeding Others of Dartmouth and the Nigeria Helper Program. She was involved in Catechesis since she was living in Pakistan and Bangladesh but unfortunately had to give it up a few years ago due to family commitments. She is very happy to be a part of St. Thomas More and enjoys meeting Jesus daily in the people she encounters . She is optimistic as we work towards building a stronger parish together.
Director of Religious Education, Grades Primary-6
Strengths Finder: Developer, Positivity, Empathy, Belief, Restorative
Shereen Daniels was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and come from a family of 16. She immigrated to Canada in 1979 and has been living in Dartmouth since August 1983. She has been a parishioner of Saint Thomas More Parish for 23 years and taught catechism for 13 years before assuming the role of Director of Religious Education for grades Primary to 6.
Pastoral Associate of Pastoral Ministries, Engagement, and Evangelization
Diane Gibbons has been a member of the staff since Sept of 2013 but has been volunteering with youth here since 2000. Working primarily with Jr.High and High school youth, she feels our Faith Journey must begin with them if our Church is to continue and grow in today’s world. Youth have a tremendous capacity for compassion and service and are thirsting for the Love of God. Through Sunday School, Youth Group, Youth Alpha and many service projects, Diane connects the young people with the other ministries, the congregation and our larger community with the goal of building a lasting Foundation of Faith.
Meet the Senior Leadership Team (SLT)
Senior Leadership Team
Strengths Finder: Learner, Communication, Input, Achiever, Arranger
For the past 33 years Nora and Cyril have been members of Saint Thomas More. Married for 35 years Nora is a retired teacher and mother of 4. Through her volunteering with the Weekend of Grace, Steubenville, Magnificat and Marian Mornings she has seen people come alive in their relationship with the Lord and wants to see this transformation take place at Saint Thomas More. “It is important to move forward in a way that does not leave people behind, by clearly communicating our goals and vision so that people are secure in their understanding of what we are doing and why we are doing it. I want people in the pews to know that they are an indispensable part of our success; they are the branches of the vine, rooted in the Lord that will enable us to reach out to and welcome those new to the faith.”
Senior Leadership Team and Pastoral Council
Strengths Finders: Connectedness, Responsibility, Arranger, Developer, Positivity
Jeannette and Steve have been married for 40 years and have 4 children. Prior to moving to Saint Thomas More 2 years ago, Jeannette and her family were long time active members of Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Fall River. As the HR Manager for the Archdiocese Jeannette says that she “wholeheartedly believes in the Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese and the need to provide people with a foundational knowledge of their faith, an appreciation of the challenge of the New Evangelization and the skills required to engage in the world of today, because of their faith in Jesus Christ.”
Senior Leadership Team
Strengths Finder: Communication, Connectedness, Positivity, Harmony, Woo
For 32 years Donna and her family have been members of Saint Andrew’s Parish in Eastern Passage before moving to Saint Thomas More Parish 2 years ago. Donna and her husband John are the parents of 5 sons and 1 daughter and 5 grandchildren. She has been active in ministry at the parish level as well as the Archdiocese for the past 30 years. In addition to a full time mother, wife and volunteer she is also a Mental Health residential counselor. When asked why she is committed to ministry, her response was “my love for Christ and His Church and the gifts he has given me has made it possible to perform this labour of love for our parish. I believe the future of our Church is a glorious one, but we have to rely on the grace of God who is good and perfect!”
Meet the Pastoral Council
Pastoral Council Chair
Brian has been a Saint Thomas More parishioner since 1985 when he and his family moved to Dartmouth. He and his wife Maureen have been married for 37 years and have two sons. Brian is a Nova Scotia land surveyor and recently retired from the provincial government. After joining Pastoral Council two years ago he became chairperson in 2017. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus-Council 13987. When asked what he feels is important for our parish: “I support the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan aimed at developing more vibrant and sustainable parishes. We want to increase attendance and participation in our faith community, while at the same time being aware and respectful of our past experience.”
Marguerite and her husband (Hubert) of 51 years have been active parishioners of Saint Thomas More for 43 years. She is currently President of the Catholic Women’s League and manages 4 funeral reception teams. A retired Registered Nurse, when asked why she is also involved in Pastoral Council, she commented “There is a definite need for unity and change in our Church. Change is so intimidating for many and we need to exercise caution so as not to turn people away. I have a strong faith which only strengthens by being able to share my love and blessings with others.”
Chris grew up in Dartmouth at St. John XXIII Parish before moving to Saskatchewan after University to work at St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission, a small post-secondary school for Catholics. He moved back home to Nova Scotia in January after 5 years away, and began attending St. Thomas More shortly thereafter. His fiancée Becca Arend works as the pastoral associate at St. Thomas More, and they’re both blessed to be part of this parish community. Chris’ passion for the Toronto Maple Leafs is dwarfed only by his passion for helping Catholics live to the fullness of their baptismal identity and experience the love of God more profoundly.
A retired engineering technogolist with two sons, Wayne was born and raised in Saint Joseph’s Parish in Halifax. He has been a proud and active member of Saint Thomas More Parish since 1971, involved with Pastoral Council, Chair of Properties, Chair of the Mass Coordinators, a Eucharistic Minister, member of the Liturgy Committee, member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and a Fourth Degree Knight. “I believe that a strong and healthy parish requires active participation by its members. I am concerned and worried about where we as an Archdiocese appear to be heading, we are an aging church population and not many young people are interested in taking up the standard. The present clergy, staff and we as parishioners have to do our very best to continue to make our parishes healthy, vibrant and viable.” Wayne loves to spend time in his garden and workshop and being at our parish working on minor projects.
Meet the Finance Council
Finance Council Chair
Sydney has been part of Saint Thomas More for the past 15 years and has in the past taken on the role of Secretary to Pastoral Council and then Chair of Pastoral Council. As Salary & Benefits Administrator and Assistant to the Financial Administrator for the Archdiocese, Sydney brings a unique depth, understanding and appreciation of the finances to Saint Thomas More, but more than that he knows the questions to ask which may challenge “how we have done things” and move us out of our comfort zone. “The Archdiocese and the Catholic Church are in a very challenging time right now and I believe that Saint Thomas More is in a position to be a leader in the Archbishop’s Pastoral Plan and vision. I want to be part of that change.”
Strengths Finder: Strategic, Communication, Activator, Woo, Belief
Jean and her husband Dave have been active members of Saint Thomas More since February 2017. She contributes along with her husband as a prayer group leader and a leader in worship ministry, and she is a member of finance council. Jean also serves on the Archdiocesan Service Team for Charismatic Renewal. Why does she serve? “I love the Catholic Church, but love God more, that is why I serve. I want to share what the Lord has done for me with others and bring them closer to Christ.” Jean and Dave are the parents of 7 children and 7 grandchildren.