In addition to their overseas missionary focus, Scarboro Missions has also had a presence in Canada from the time of its founding in 1918 as the new China Mission College in the town of Almonte near Ottawa, Ontario. The seminary, which eventually became known as Scarboro Missions, was moved in 1921 to Scarborough, Ontario, where it served as the Society’s central house until November 1918. At that time, having sold the property to the Toronto Catholic District School Board, many Scarboro priests moved to a newly built residence called Presentation Manor, located nearby in Scarborough. Several religious congregations of both women and men united to lend support the the Presentation Manor project and are part of this new community.
Scarboro Missions was also present in British Columbia. The first ordained priest for Scarboro Missions, Irish-born Fr. Dan Carey, after a brief experience in China, returned to Canada in the early 1920s and eventually became the founding editor of the BC Catholic. In the mid-1930s the Grey Sisters assisted Scarboro priests in developing an apostolate to the Chinese community in Vancouver. For the next 40 years, the Sisters taught the Catholic faith to the children of St. Francis Xavier parish in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Today this lively, thriving parish community is a testimony to the missionary spirit of these early priests and Sisters.
Scarboro Missions also had a ministry to Indigenous Peoples in Canada. In 1972, Fr. Al Felix returned from Guyana to work among the Ojibwe-Odawa people on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, Ontario. Later he worked among the Chippewa (Ojibwe) people on Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula. In 1988, Fr. Joe Curcio went to live and work among the Cree peoples of Northern Saskatchewan. He saw their suffering and wanted to journey with them in their struggles. He felt drawn to their gentle ways, their love of family and community, their oneness with nature, reverencing creation and experiencing God in the whole web of life.
A time of change
Facing a period of diminishment and downsizing, in November 2018 many of the Scarboro priests moved into the newly built Presentation Manor residence. The Society’s General Council, the Financial Affairs Office, and Archives are also located there.
By December 2017, Scarboro Missions had closed its in-Canada ministries: Scarboro Missions Magazine, the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office, the Department of Interfaith Dialogue, and the Mission Centre.