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Parish
Parish
PARISH COUNCIL
Council Chair - Vytautas Pečiulis

Section Chairs:
    Liturgy - Irena Paznėkas
    Young Families - Zita Kružikas
    Administration - Dalia Ažubalis
    Finance Council - Romas Otto

MUSICAL DIRECTORS
Adult - Darijus Špakauskas
Children "Gintareliai" - Deimantė Grigutis


PRIESTS
Rev. Nerijus Šmerauskas - pastor
Rev. Msgr. Jonas Staškevičius - in residence



PARISH HISTORY
St. John the Baptist parish began in 1928 when the Lithuanians living in Toronto received permission from Archbishop Neil McNeill to found their own Lithuanian parish. Since most lived in the area along Dundas Street West between Ossington and Bathurst Streets a suitable facility, a former Presbyterian Church, was purchased at the corner of Dundas Street and Gorevale Avenue and consecrated on April 19, 1928. The first appointed parish priest was Fr. Jonas Gervickas.

By 1935 a rectory was built and a basement was dug under the church to create a hall. This was a rather amazing feat since it was accomplished during the depression and only through the extraordinary efforts of the parishioners themselves who dug out the basement with shovels after their normal work hours and on weekends. The hall became the social and cultural centre of the community.

Between 1936 and 1948 there was no Lithuanian priest in Toronto and the parish priest for most of those years was Fr. Vincent McGiveney.

In 1948 there was a great influx of Lithuanians into Canada, who were fleeing USSR oppression. With them came Fr. Petras Ažubalis who would be the pastor of the parish until his death in 1980. During this period the church was enlarged and facilities were built for a Lithuanian newspaper. A community centre, with a chapel, was established at Wasaga Beach, a place where many Lithuanians spent their summers. Permission was received from the Archdiocese of Toronto to provide Masses there for the Lithuanian community.

Alas, the church and hall were still too small for the now large Lithuanian community and no parking facilities were available at the parish.

St. John's Lithuanian Cemetery had been established by Fr. Ažubalis in Mississauga in 1960 and when more land became available adjacent to it, he decided to pursue the idea of moving the Parish to Mississauga where larger facilities could be built and there would be lots of parking available. With the permission of Archbishop Philip Pocock, in 1974 the parish moved to its new home in Mississauga and the parish was renamed in honour of the Lithuanian Martyrs.

After the death of Fr. Ažubalis in 1980, the pastor until March 6, 2006 has been Msgr. Jonas Staškevičius. With the numbers of Lithuanian speaking priests in Canada dwindling, in 1997 Msgr. Staškevičius agreed to take on the administration of St. Casimir's Lithuanian Parish in Delhi, Ontario and in 2006, the administration of Our Lady of Šiluva Lithuanian Parish in London, Ontario as well. At present the priests of Lithuanian Martyrs' Parish provide pastoral care to the Lithuanian communities in Toronto - Mississauga, Wasaga Beach, Delhi and on a shared basis with priests of Resurrection of Our Lord Lithuanian Parish (Toronto) pastoral care in London. In March of 2006 Father Vytautas Staškevičius was appointed as the pastor of Lithuanian Martyrs' parish and took care of the flock until the end of June, 2017. Now the new pastor of the parish is Fr. Nerijus Šmerauskas.
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