Top Posts & Pages
Msgr. Foy is a retired priest and canon lawyer of the Archdiocese of Toronto. He was born in Toronto, Ontario on August 14, 1915, second of a family of eight children. He attended Holy Name Catholic Elementary School and De La Salle High School in Toronto. In 1933 he entered St. Augustine’s Seminary and was ordained on June 3, 1939 by Archbishop, later Cardinal McGuigan. He was sent for post-graduate studies to Laval University in Quebec City where he took a doctoral course in Canon Law. In 1942 he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the Archdicoese of Toronto and Secretary of the Toronto Archdiocesan Matrimonial Tribunal. In 1947, he was named the Secretary of the new Toronto Regional Tribunal, which he served later as Defender of the Bond and Judge. In 1957 he was named Presiding Judge of the Regional and Archdiocesan Tribunals. In the same year he was named a Domestic Prelate by Pope Pius XII. In a part time capacity for many years he was Director of Catechetics of the Archdiocese of Toronto.
He is a founder and honorary member of the Canadian Canon Law Society.
He was named pastor of his natal parish of St. John’s in Toronto in 1966 and was there until 1973. He then served as pastor of Holy Martyrs Church in Bradford and St. Patrick’s Church in Phelpston. In 1977 and 1978 he lived in Rome in an advocacy capacity. He served as chaplain for 25 years of the Pro Aliis Club and was chaplain also of the Legion of Mary, has helped religious orders and convents and been active in other groups including the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.
Msgr. is the oldest priest in his Archdiocese and the only surviving priest of the class of 1939 of St. Augustine’s Seminary. For decades he has fearlessly articulated and defended the teachings of the Church – in a time of moral and doctrinal chaos in the Church in Canada. He is best known for his untiring defense of Catholic teachings on marriage and family life, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae. His efforts have earned him a papal commendation and the Pro-life Man of the Year Award. On June 3, 2014, he celebrates his 75th year of his ordination to the holy priesthood.
Getting ready for my 75th Ordination Anniversary, age 98
My parents never missed Mass, that’s for sure, and they taught us our prayers. My mother was a marvellous woman, raised eight children, did her own cooking and sewing at night and got us all up in the morning.
My brothers were all very good boys. We had a Holy Name Society where we were trained to do public speaking. I already had the intention to try to become a priest when, around 1928, I gave about a five minute speech on “The Duties of a Priest”.
I was an Altar boy early on. Fr. Fullerton, our pastor, came to the house and told my mother that he’d like to train me to serve at the Altar. My mother used to get me up to serve Mass. I served at the 8am Mass and went to school without having breakfast, since I went to Holy Communion. The Eucharistic Fast in those days started from midnight onwards and with no water. I didn’t go home for lunch, but sometimes my mother gave me fifteen cents and I got fish and chips. If I served at the 7am Mass, I went home for breakfast. When I went to De La Salle Catholic High school, I used to take lunch in a bag.
This photo was taken in 1922 on the day of my First Holy Communion. That was a great day. I don’t have socks on, since a bicycle drove by and sprayed me with mud. The girls wore the long white dresses and the boys were given a white sash that looked a little like a deacon’s stole. I am beside my older and the eldest brother in my family, Edward, who had to be a year late starting school due to his severe asthma. Therefore, we were in the same First Holy Communion class. He was born in May of 1913 about a year after my parents were married and I was born in August of 1915.
Edward was a daily Communicant. He was consistently a cheerful person. You couldn’t help but like him, since he was very likeable. We got along well.
All of my siblings went to Holy Name Catholic Elementary school. I went to De La Salle Catholic high school and Edward went to the School of Commerce. As a teenager, Edward played the bango with a group called “The Four Fs” since there last names started with F (Foy, Fernandez…). They played at Holy Name church hall and other venues. He also played the piano and I played the violin. His music teacher who lived on Fulton Avenue once put on a recital and Edward and I played together. This was reported in a newspaper at the time called “The Chronicle”. I got a violin for free if I signed up for lessons at the Harris School of Music on Danforth. I had three years of violin lessons, once a week, for 75cents each. My poor father encouraged me – he said “There is only one thing I ask: Do not practise your violin when I am in the house.” The piano was different. My father promised me 25 cents when I could play a certain Irish song. I eventually earned the quarter. When I entered the seminary I did not play the violin. My mother played the piano when I was very young and later she didn’t have the time for it.
When I was in the seminary, two visits were allowed per month. Edward always came out with my parents. During the 1930s there was a Depression. He couldn’t find work and I could see this was hard on him. I made a Novena that he would get work. On the last day of the Novena, I had word from him that he got a job with the Red Rose tea company. It was there that he met his future wife, Lenore Thompson. Although I was not the pastor, I married them at St. Vincent de Paul church, the parish of the bride.
Edward and Lenore had three children: Paul (named after a close friend of my father’s), Mary Pat, and Linda. They had a nice house out in the west end of Toronto. There was a Catholic store on Church Street where he became employed for years and was in charge of things. Being a cheerful person, he was very popular. Most priests in Toronto shopped there, knew him and liked him.
Edward predeceased his wife and died of a stroke before his retirement, when he was only 64. I remember my nephew, his son Paul, said he came home from work, suddenly put his hand to his head and said “There is something wrong” and died. It was around Christmastime in December of 1977. I was in Rome for a year and a half, from partway through 1977 and in 1978. I flew back to Canada during this time for his funeral Mass. I conducted his burial at Mount Hope cemetery. His widow Lenore kept in contact with and used to phone me after he died.
This is a photo of Edward in the garb of a choir boy of Holy Name Church near Pape and Danforth. It is taken in front of the Foy family home at 40 Fulton Ave. The choir director was Mr. Joseph McDonald. Some of the other choir boys became priests including: Murray Allen, Armand Desaulniers, Andy Pinfold, Msgr. Cooney, and Francis P. Carol (later Bishop of Calgary).
This photo was taken in front of Holy Name Church community hall. I was 7 years old. The priest in this Holy Communion photo was Fr. Flanagan. My classmate Jack Mitchell (2nd row at left) was killed that summer. He fell down Riverdale Park Hill and hit his head. All six pall bearers including myself became priests (Jack Miller, Andy Pinfold, Armand Desaulniers, Murray Allen, Vincent Foy, and another who joined a mission society). Sr Celestine taught us first grade 1921-22 at Holy Name.
A friend of my father’s named Gerry Henderson, who wasn’t a Catholic, introduced my mother and father, who were both Catholic. My parents Edward Basil Foy and Josephine Walburgis Schnitzler were married on June 25, 1912 at St. Francis of Assisi parish on Grace Street in Toronto. My mother’s sister, my Aunt Anna (a smart looking girl) was her Maid of Honour. She lived with us for a while on Fulton Avenue until she married our neighbour, Fred Cartin. He lived on the Dixon Avenue, the street where we had previously lived and where I was born.
My Uncle Fred had been married before, but his wife was killed in a railway train accident. Anna and Fred had three children. During the birth of their third child, my Aunt Anna died in St. Michael’s hospital and at the same time my sister Doreen was also born there. My mother had double pneumonia. The doctors at St. Michael’s hospital told my father to prepare us children for death and that was when I made a promise to God to try to become a priest. It was a surprise to the doctor that my mother recovered. After she recovered, she found out her sister Anna had died.
My mother’s other sister Appolonia went to look after the three children of Anna and she married my Uncle Fred. He had a nice car and a cottage on Lake Simcoe with a cook and a maid where I used to spend some vacation time with their family in August when I was a child. My Aunt Appolonia died when I was in the seminary. Uncle Fred married a fourth time, after Aunt App died.
My mother was born in Ontario, Canada in 1885. She was raised near Kitchener, Ontario which used to be called New Berlin; but after the War broke out, it was renamed Kitchener because Germany was at war with Canada. Kitchener was the name of a British captain and war hero who’s ship was sunk during the war. My mother had ninety first cousins in that area. She had a brother who was in the Canadian Army in World War I and was killed after Armistist was declared and on that same day of November 11, 1918, since word hadn’t reached the section where he was yet. My mother had a photo of him in his uniform.
My mother had a cousin who was a priest, Fr. Matthew Schnitzler. He was ordained in Hamilton and volunteered to go on the missions out west. He was the first diocesan priest in the diocese of Calgary, AB. He used to visit us occasionally and my mother sent him money out west, since he lived very poorly there.
My parents had eight children. I was the second eldest. As of 2015, they are all dead except for me – I am in my 100th year of age now and my youngest sister Shirley is 87.
My sister Doreen was a nurse and my sister Mary was a teacher. My three sisters didn’t marry, but all my four brother’s married.
My grandfather, Nicholas Foy, came over at the age of ten by himself during the potato famine and later brought his brother George over from Ireland. His brother George became a millionaire through importing liquor and built the Foy building on Front Street. My grandfather Nicholas died when my father was only six years old and only had four children. My father was baptized at St. Basil’s Church in Toronto. My grandfather Nicholas was a cab driver and invested in real estate. His wife, my grandmother Mary Gorman, died in 1911 before I was born, so I never met her. As a widow she had lived on the rents from the houses they had purchased. They had four houses – two at 28 and 30 St. Alban’s (later this became Wellesley) Street and two behind them on Fifth Street. When I was a boy I used to go with my father every week to collect the rents over there. There was a stable there where the cab was kept that my grandfather had driven.
In those days, all the money went to the oldest son. My father’s older brother John went over to England where there money was kept. I had a post card from him. He went over on a boat. He came back and lived on Fulton Avenue with his sisters, my two aunts. His money had just run out when he was killed at Parliament and Bloor by a streetcar. He stepped back to avoid the street car and was killed by a car. He used to give me and my brothers ten cents every week.
My father bought a house at 53 Dixon Avenue in the east end of Toronto where I was born in 1915. In 1918 we moved up to Fulton Avenue, which was further west near Broadview and Danforth, in Holy Name parish. In those days, Fulton Avenue was the last street in the city and beyond that was country and farmhouses, with cattle. At the end of Fulton Avenue was a store we used to call The County Store.
Our relatives near Kitchener used to send my mother eggs and when they started to build up things behind us, I used to deliver eggs for her as a favour. She used to share the eggs with others. I had a basket that carried about two dozen eggs. I climbed over the back fence to my father’s sisters, my Aunt Elizabeth and Babe’s place at 96 Fulton Avenue. A police dog jumped up at me and I dropped the basket. Most of the eggs were broken. I had to go back to my mother and tell her that I had broken the eggs. I was very sorry about it, but was frightened by that dog. I was about 10 years old at that time.
Later this day, my mother took me to a barber and had my curls cut off. My father worked at McCall Brothers (later renamed McCall Frontenac Oil and then Texaco Canada) company from the 1890s until his retirement around 1945. Before he bought his first car in 1922, a baby grand Chevrolet, he used to get a ride home from a coworker. This man used to tease and call me “Mary” (which was my sister’s name) and I hated being called by a girl’s name; he has also gave me a quarter occasionally, which was a lot of money at that time.