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Newsletter. Issue 2005-10. May. 14, 2005
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People Places and Things

Diamonds are Forever......
Maria Fraser's Helicopter ride to BHP diamond exploration camp Repulse Bay.

Hilary Rodrigues - Founder, Rodrigues Winery and Distillery
Kosher wine made in an unusual location
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St. Gabriel's to break ground on Canada's first 'green' church
TORONTO, May 10 /CNW/ - When Passionist Father Paul Cusack and his parishioners gather next Sunday for a ceremonial groundbreaking, they will commemorate more than the construction of their new church: The North York building will become Canada's first house of worship to be certified as a leader in energy and environmental design.
To Father Paul, St. Gabriel's spiritual leader, the new church, when completed in about 15 months, will not only beautify the neighbourhood, conserve energy and improve air quality, it will also serve as a living monument to what he calls "eco-theology." The growing number of lay and clerical people within the Catholic Church who follow the tenets of eco-theology believe that the cultural, economic and technological systems that make up human society must conform to the natural systems of earth, life and creation.
"You can't make people well on a sick planet, no matter how sophisticated your technology. For people to be healthy, the planet must be healthy. We have tried to embody these teachings in the design of our new church," Father Paul says.
When completed, ecological innovations will earn the new St. Gabriel's certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Rating System. LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a volunteer organization that brings together public- and private-sector leaders to promote high-performance sustainable buildings. No other Canadian church has yet earned such distinction.
To help finance the project, the Passionist community sold most of the land on its 7.5-acre site to a developer who will construct townhouses and condominiums that will also incorporate ecologically friendly technology. "It was back in 1998 that we first decided to develop our property and build a new church to meet the future needs of this community, especially in light of the Sheppard subway and the substantial development taking place on the Sheppard Avenue corridor," Father Paul says. Sunday's gathering begins 1:15 p.m. at the statue of Christ Welcoming the Crowds in front of the present church, built in a farmer's field 53 years ago at what is now 650 Sheppard Avenue East. Representatives of the culturally and ethnically diverse parish will symbolically break ground for the new building.
"It will be a simple ceremony with prayers for the spiritual success of our new church and for the safety and well-being of those who are building it," Father Paul says.
The new St. Gabriel's will appear to grow out of the surrounding landscape, with a solar glass wall on the south face that will harness the energy of the winter sun and create a visual bridge connecting worshippers inside with a vibrant outdoor garden. To preserve the residential ambiance of the surrounding neighbourhood, most of the parking spaces for worshippers will
be underground.
Inside, the church will be divided into two main areas: A gathering space just within the main doors where congregants can hold special events or simply meet informally with one another before entering the worship space for Mass. The gathering space will feature a "living wall" draped in foliage over which a thin layer of water will constantly flow. The living wall is designed
to improve the quality of incoming air and purify the air when a congregation is using the gathering space, the worship space, or both.
"While reducing energy costs was one of the reasons for building a 'green' church," Father Paul says. "Our primary motivation was to establish a link between the sacredness of the gathered community of Faith and the sacredness of Earth."

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