Photo by Rita Ubriaco
Mr. Mario Nucci
As far as being an embarrassment, I am not embarrassed to represent people who cannot stand up for themselves, and who have been victimized by the Church Bishops. As a citizen of the Thunder Bay, I am embarrassed about the local Hospital issue, I am embarrassed about the local water issue, I am embarrassed about the local drug and crime issue, but I am not embarrassed about taking up a legitimate cause for a people too good to complain.
As a Christian and as a Catholic I am embarrassed about how "these" Bishops have handled this situation and how they paradoxically live a life of luxury while the needs of the poor are not met. (March 11, 1998)
The story continues . . . . . . . . drop back........
Letter to the Editor: Crossing the Cross.?
March 14, 1998
In the middle of Canada, halfway, between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans is Thunder Bay, Ontario. From its hills you can see the legendary "Sleeping Giant" a mythical god, that forms a Mountain across the lake, a god betrayed for a mine of silver, or so goes the legend..
In the city of Thunder Bay, at the former site of Saint Anthony's Church there stands, a cross, a 15-foot tall Metal Cross erected, on the former site of Saint Anthony's Church. This Cross, is a monument to the many truths concerning the fire at Saint Anthony's Church that have divided a community.
The Cross is a symbol of Jesus Christ whose trial and crucifixion we remember, at Easter, an event that happened some two thousand years later. It was at his trial that Pontius Pilate asked the question, "What is Truth?" It appears, that the answer was nailed to a cross, where Jesus Christ, proclaimed to the World, his message that he was "The Light of the World."
It appears that with the discovery of "anti+truths," the negative side to truth, that "different colors" of the rainbow are to the Light as different truths are to The Truth. Both truth and Light can be polarizing if they are not whole. A simple message that provided a "cross" between science and religion. Jesus Christ, betrayed by even his followers of the day, for a "bag full of silver.
In 1990, several months prior to undertaking a major expansion renovation of Saint Anthony's Church, on Banning Street, a fire severely damaged the Church. The Church was quickly bulldozed. The funds from the Insurance policy were used to build another Church on the proposed site of Saint Francis of Assis, on the outskirts of town. The name of the Church was changed to accommodate the terms of the insurance policy. The site had been originally purchased with controversial funds "taken" without prior approval by the then Bishop, Bishop O'Mara, from the Saint Anthony's Parish.
Saint Anthony's Church had been a focus point of the Italian Community, within Port Arthur, located within walking Distance from the Italian Society of Port Arthur. It was a community church, that, "Could not be taken away from the Italians," these were the words of Father Veltri, at the 75th Anniversary of Saint Anthony's Church. The Italian Community had long since been victims of negative discrimination, and it was Father Veltri's cousin Mr. Welsh, who upon changing his name, to a more politically correct one received numerous contracts to build the CN railroad from Thunder Bay to the Pacific Coast.
The controversy surrounding Saint Anthony' Church resulted in the removal of the then Bishop O'Mara, by Pope John Paul II, when it became known that the Bishop had built himself a luxury cottage.
Bishop O'Mara was replaced by Bishop Henry who arrived in Thunder Bay in 1995. I informed him by letter that I had been the former secretary to the Parish council of Saint Anthony's Church and that "we" had arrived at a solution to the Saint Anthony's Fire Banning Street Location, at several meetings with Father Kennedy.
Bishop Henry replied, "That You are no longer in the Loop," and that Father Kennedy was in no position to make such "a deal."
The solution called for a small part of the property, where the church stood, the portion where the cross stands to be set aside as a memorial park in recognition of the former Italian Parish of Saint Anthony's, its pioneers, its founders and a history based on discrimination; a modest settlement.
It is unfortunate that Bishop Henry, with a solution at hand, opted to sell the land in question to Habitat for Humanity. It is unfortunate that Habitat for Humanity and Thunder Bay City Council, have been unnecessary "pawns" in this game, that sees the "King" leaving with City Hall and Habitat having to pick up this "hot potato."
It is unfortunate that further dividing and negative comments are being made by City Council. Statements that say that we do not represent the parish of Saint Anthony's, and that we are "an embarrassment."
Let me clarify, I nor anyone in this group represent, Saint Anthony's Parish, but I do represent the past parishioners of the parish who have sacrificed to build a church and a community, and feel mistreated by the past "two Bishops" given the details of the fire, the insurance money and more. As far as embarrassment, I am not embarrassed of having to defend these people's dignity and respect, but I am embarrassed by the manner in which these two Bishops, with their luxury cottages, Cooks and similar trappings, have mishandled this affair, pitting people against people, when a solution was a move away. All this while halfway around the world, Mother Teresa fed the poor.
As a third generation city resident I am however, embarrassed about the current hospital issue which is "killing people," I am embarrassed about the current drug problem within the city with allegations of internal involvement, I am however embarrassed about the cities performance with a declining population and declining downtown cores, and I am embarrassed about the current "drinking water" problems in this city......but no, I am not embarrassed about defending a blatant injustice, against a humble and honest people. I will not be treated like the system treated our brothers, the native Indians.
It is a tragic statement about this situation
that two lots across the street remain empty while Habitat for Humanity
insists on taking down a Cross, a monument to Jesus Christ, betrayed
a "pocketful of silver" and denied by his followers because they
feared to tell the Truth. It appears that history does repeat itself:
story stays the same, IT IS THE PLAYERS THAT CHANGE.
Letter to the Editor: Betraying Christ: Then and Now.
March 17, 1998
Christ; Betrayed then and now !
In the article, from Habitat for Humanity concerning their proposed development on Banning Street, it mentions that they canvassed all the homes in the area, but fails to disclose that some individuals within the area did definitely disagree with the project, as initially developed; that is a deceptive half-truth. Why?
Many of the residents within the area were convinced to advised that the development would include that "a closure" would be built for the cross at Saint Anthony's. Not a physical closure but an abstract "closure" of ceremony; that was and is such a deceptive statement; Why was it used ?
The article also states that "three men," were objecting to the development. That is not the truth. There are two groups who are objecting to the development for different reasons. The first group, representing the former parishioners of Saint Anthony's, who were promised the area where the Church Stood as a memorial, and the second group, who represent neighbourhood concerns; regarding zoning changes. Both have the same goal, but represent many people, within the area and the city some who would rather.
If Habitat for Humanity, a Christian Organization, is intent on building four duplexes on the property, including a single home on the land promised as a memorial in memory of Saint Anthony's Church, why do they and The Church ignore two empty Church lots across the street remain idle. I must ask the question, Why?
Lets appreciate that the former Saint Anthony's parishioners had moneys taken from them by the former Bishop to buy the land for Saint Francis, on Hilldale. The damaged Saint Anthony's Church was quickly bulldozed after the fire, even though several months prior, plans were to have begun to renovate and expand the Church at the Banning Street Location. The area lost its Italian Ethnic Church, as the funds were used to build Saint Francis, which had its name changed, a project the local dioceses had wanted to develop earlier but failed. In light of this, a small memorial was promised by Father Kennedy. Why do we ignore this solution?
It is a shame that a Bishop with years of Theology training would use "Habitat for Humanity" as a pawn. Bishop Henry has "left" Thunder Bay for Calgary, disposing of his problem, in a tactful perhaps pre planned manner sacrificing one Christian group for another. This behaviour reflects a lack of respect for the mostly Italian Parishioners of Saint Anthony's, that was displayed by Bishop O'Mara; they obviously came from the same school.
In the short time Bishop Henry was in Thunder Bay, he was also able to offend many of the Italian Community by stating that Memorial Mass at the Italian Hall would no longer be permitted; his true colors did show through.
The Church, with its "luxury cottages," and "cooks" and Habitat for Humanity for Habitat, with their "all or nothing" attitude should learn that as Christian organizations, Jesus Christ, was about "humility," "sharing," and above all telling "The Truth." What we have seen is the manipulation of truths and half-truths that polarize a community.
Whether, the Cross stands or not, all the players in this story will have proven much and perhaps that is just as important how Christ was and is betrayed then and now; HAPPY EASTER !
Letter from Lawyer / Habitat for Humanity:
March 19, 1998
Dear Mr. Serrao, Mr. Squitti & Mr. Zavagnin:
Re: Habitat for Humanity Thunder Bay Rezoning Banning Street
I represent Habitat for Humanity Thunder Bay Inc. (Habitat) in the above noted transaction.
Habitat, its members and supporters have asked me to write to you concerning your publicly stated plans to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board the rezoning by the City of Thunder Bay. habitat wishes you to know how they stand with respect to your concerns and objections.
I believe you know that the zoning amendment would allow Habitat to construct four semi-detached dwellings and one single detached dwelling on the lot at Banning and Dufferin Streets--a project known as St. Anthony's Square.
You did not attend and object at the Council meeting held in December nor at the Committee of Adjustment meeting in February. under Ontario law, you have severely damaged your position to object, and I have instructions to characterize your late objections as frivolous and vexatious, to seek costs against you and to move for early dismissal of your objections. Your appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board will result in many thousands of dollars of extra construction expenses and legal cost s for my client, and I will recommend commencing a civil lawsuit against you for these. If you wish to meet with me so that I can show you the law on these points, please call.
The zoning amendment bylaw was passed unanimously by City Council, after a long and public process. City Report #391/97 points out that the Official Plan supports the zoning amendments,. The creation of smaller lots and affordable housing is further supported by the Provincial Policy Statement. I am confident that the Ontario Municipal Board would uphold the zoning amendment.
My clients remain respectful to the history fo the site and invite you to join them in dedicating and naming the property, which will be marked with a sidewalk type plaque. You are also invited to be a part of the volunteer construction crew, as Habitat builds homes and builds hope at St. Anthony's Square. You would be welcomed in the spirit of reconciliation and a new beginning.
Habitat for Humanity respectfully requests you not to object to the Ontario Municipal Board.
I am of the opinion that you dispute is with the Bishop, not Habitat.
Letter to the City Council
March 19, 1998
Re: Saint Anthony's Property Banning Street
His Worship Mayor Ken Boshcoff and Councillors fax: 343-9114
To whom it may Concern::
I am receipt of a letter from Mr. Rene Larson, representing Habitat for Humanity concerning the property of Saint Anthony's Church on Banning Street including my name with Anthony Serrao, as suggesting that I have been involved with the current land re- zoning complaints concerning Saint Anthony's Property. . It has also been mistakenly stated in the local papers that "three Men" are opposing Habitat for Humanity.
Let me first state, that I represent some of the former parishioners of Saint Anthony's Church who had reached a verbal agreement with Father Kennedy to have a memorial built on the land where the Church Stood. While I agree with some of the concerns voiced by the citizen within the area, that are objecting to the scope of the development and its re zoning, I am not directly involved with their work.
For Mr. Rene Larson to include my name on your letter of March 19, 1998 reflects a misinterpretation to this reality and I assume it is because I showed up to a council meeting to view the presentation, by Mr. Anthony Serrao, objecting to the re-zoning, at City Hall in March, that was declined by City Council.
Having said that, I being to your attention, that Habitat for Humanity was made aware of the negotiations with Father Kennedy in 1997, and again last week in my discussions with Mrs. Cook. Habitat for Humanity was also made aware of two Church owned lots that are available across the street, if they require additional lots..
I have been also informed by Mr. Serraro, that he did show up to the December meeting at City Hall where he talked to Mr. Rene Larso, unfortunately Mr. Sarro arrived at 6:40 for the 7:00 o'clock City Council Meeting, only to find that the item was dealt with at the Committee of the Whole Meeting that started at 6:30.
It is that City Council be made aware that the current direction by Habitat for Humanity, is in contravention with the deal made with Father Kennedy, that their project calling for four duplexes, and one single family home, with the single family home contravening the deal made with Father Kennedy on the site for the sole purpose of resolving this issue.
There is no doubt that our dispute is with the Bishop, which you know relates to a small portion of the land, where the Cross is situated and that Habitat for Humanity would take down, if their current plans proceed. I am disappointed that even Habitat for Humanity takes such a stand on this issue, especially given that it too is a Christian based organization. Let us save ourselves the time and energy and deal with the issues.
City Council should be aware that at least one individual contacted me when Habitat was canvassing the area, suggesting to me that they were under the impression that Habitat for Humanity was going to build "closure" around the property at Saint Anthony's and the Cross, which some within the area believed to be a physical structure.
I express my concern, that some within Habitat have used deceptive "half-truths" stating that "they talked with me" and have suggested that I am in support of them, when in fact I am support of their work, and their projects, but not this particular one as it stands because of the minor prior agreement with Father Kennedy.
It is also hoped that Habitat for Humanity will not force this issue, given the fact that the Bishop who made "this deal" has left town.
I am truly hoping to resolve this issue in such a manner that further negative publicity to The Church and Habitat for Humanity is avoided especially when a solution is at hand and in light of the Christian Nature of both organizations and the harmful impact to all those involved and in this City.
March 23, 1998
It has come to my attention that one individual who had sent a notice to the City of Thunder Bay, complaining about the zoning changes, was contacted by Habitat for Humanity, and in their discussions was told that "he was the only individual" in the area complaining, and that one other individual had only asked question.
We know of at least three people who sent three letters of complaint to the city zoning office and I am to believe that Habitat for Humanity, has been actively engaged in rather deceptive lobbying of this issue in the area.
Habitat for Humanity, continues to stress that it is building homes for the poor. The truth is that they sell houses to those who qualify, and at market value, and with no interest. I was sent a letter inviting me to volunteer, but ask why should they be charging for my inputs?
Letter To Habitat for Humanity
A letter was received November 9, 1998 from Habitat for Humanity requesting that the cross be removed from the area. The project for the property has been approved by the Ontario Municipal Board. To build 9 units on this property. My reply is outlined below.
November 16, 1998
Re: Saint Anthony's Property on Bay Street
Dear Mr. Ayearst:
I thank you for your letter of November 9th, 1998, which I received November 12.
As you are aware Bishop Henry, entered into agreement with you, despite unresolved settlement with the former parishioners of the site, where the cross now stands.
You were also made aware of this, and the agreement made by Father Kennedy, to leave a small portion of the said property, for a memorial. (Verbal agreement)
I also bring to your attention two empty church lots across the street that the church could offer you in exchange for the area where the Church stood.
Given that you entered into agreement knowing the controversy concerning the property, given that you were informed of the "promise" with Father Kennedy, and also given that the current Church representative, Monsignor Bazin of November 16, 1998 was not aware of the empty lots across the street, and given the fact that Bishop Henry has left Thunder Bay, it would seriously jeopardize the integrity of your organization to enter and finalize the deal, and or removing the cross.
The property, as its stands or will stand, will be monument to the truths and lies of all those involved; be very careful, the reputation of Habitat for Humanity, is at a cross-roads.
As I know some of the individuals within Habitat it is hoped you will have the vision to resolve this issue, even while the Church has sought to play games.
It Habitat for Humanity is at all concerned about "community" and helping the people of this area, it will reconsider its options in light of all that has happened and will happen.
Pictured below are members of the Church planting a metal cross into the ground, to replace the wooden cross in the background that was torn down by vandals. The cross made up steel, incorporated the wooden cross between its panels.
It was a beautiful day, as many Italian elders gathered to plant this cross, many of them wearing their Sunday suits. Someone contacted the Church and Police officers were dispatched to the area, and as we discussed the legalities of the cross with the Thunder Bay Officers, the cross set into the concrete, let me say to the delightment of some of the Police officers who were Italian.
In the month of November 1998, in the early pre-dawn hours staff from Habitat for Humanity, "cut down" the cross, with a torch........the cross still had upon it the Christmas decorations........and a statue of Saint Anthony's, all of which have not been returned....Signs were erected by the Diocese advising people that to set foot on the property was trespassing.
As of October 6, 2000, Habitat for Humanity has built one duplex on the site. The plans call for a total of 4 duplexes and 1 single home. In my opinion this will become a monument to the corruption within the Church. The Church has named the square Saint Anthony's and erected a concrete block in honour of this Saint. This monument, measures some two feet tall, and reflects the total lack of compassion and respect for the Italian community by the Bishops, who dealt with this entire matter. As far as the Habitat for Humanity homes. Well, as they say, this is not a hand out but a hand up, whereby individuals use "sweat equity" for a down payment, and then purchase the house at fair market value without interest. Thunder Bay has a high vacancy rate, and many homes are available for thousands of dollars less than the value of these homes. The message is that "the poor" really cannot afford these homes, and this was merely a publicity ploy on behalf of Bishop Henry.
In the future I will post a picture of this development and the "stupid" monument to Saint Anthony and the Italian Community that "The Church" has allowed.
As of October 15, 2000 the Bishop's of Thunder Bay reside in a Mansion. Truly a fitting monument to the hypocrisy of The Church in Thunder Bay.
Saint Anthony's Directory June 6th, 2001
(the manipulation of truth continues and reveals how truth can lie)
Philosophy: A new discovery about how Truth can lie !
Taken from the St. Anthony's Parish Directory: June 6th 2001 with the actual copy above.
"On March 6, 1990 tragedy struck St. Anthony's. A devastating fire completely destroyed the building. Within a matter of days, Rev. Hermente Nazzani and a committee of parishioners began the difficult task of rebuilding and to continue serving the parishioners. Weekly masses were offered in the gymnasium of Holy Cross School, while baptisms, weddings and funerals took place a t Corpus Christi and St. Andrew's churches. Land was soon acquired on the corner of Hilldale and Dawson Rd."
First of all let me say, that the fire of March 6, did not destroy the Church, it was damaged; this is a manipulation of the truth in history. In fact some people believed that it could have been repaired.
Second, the rebuilding did not being within a matter of days, at least not for the location on Hilldale. A day after the fire, the Church was demolished and while some complained about this, the word given the parishioners was that the church would be rebuilt on the site, but in a more central location.
The next day, the damaged Church with basement intact was levelled to the ground, with the understanding that it would be rebuilt on the same site. Within weeks, perhaps months, the decision came from the Bishop, Bishop O'Mara that the Church would be built on the site of the lot purchased years prior, for Saint Francis.
Three, the statement about weekly masses, is partly true. Weekly masses at Holy Cross School were held prior to the fire as well, in anticipation of the soon to be built Saint Francis. In addition masses at Saint Andrews were held for the community as Bishop O'Mara and the Italian community struggled with the question as to where to build.
Four, land was not acquired after the fire as the directory states. The land where Saint Anthony's stands was originally purchased to build Saint Francis of Assisi several years earlier. The plan to build Saint Francis did not proceed due to the fact that the Italian parishioners from Saint Anthony's on Banning Street continued to worship on Banning Street.
This last statement provides a new dimension to truth; true TRUTH truth can lie when A TRUTH it is put out of TIME sequence, to infer assumptions that are not true. Absolute truths are relative to Time.
Caesar Squitti, June 2001
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