Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

Pastor

Fr. Chris Valka, CSB is the Pastor of St. Basil’s Catholic Parish at the University of St. Michael’s College and University of Toronto. He was ordained in May 2009 as a priest of the Congregation of St. Basil (also known as the Basilian Fathers).

Fr. Chris obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas (1997); a Master’s of Science in Secondary Education at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York (2006); a Master’s of Divinity from the University of St. Michael’s College Faculty of Theology at the University of Toronto (2008).

Prior to joining the Basilian Fathers, Fr. Chris was employed in both the corporate and non-profit sector as a Marketing and Special Events Director, Community Relations Director and Computer Programmer.

Fr. Chris has taught in secondary schools for four years in Houston, Detroit and Novi, Michigan. Prior to St. Basil’s, Fr. Chris served as the Chaplain and Campus Minister through Assumption University at the University of Windsor for three years. Fr. Chris has used his skills in graphic arts, web design, video and radio production to develop new ideas and resources for education, evangelization and outreach.

Margaret D’Elia

Margaret D’Elia

Office Manager

Margaret began working at St. Basil’s Church as an Office Manager in October of 2015. She joined St. Basil’s as a retired Teacher with over 25 years experience as the Head of Special Education and Behaviour Consultant. Prior to teaching, Margaret earned her Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology, and specialist certificates in both Religious and Special Education.

Margaret’s commitment to serving her community and helping others has always been at the forefront. She has (and continues to) volunteer for various local non-profit organizations such as The Toronto Botanical Gardens, L’Altra Italia (an organization that supports Italian arts and culture), Flower Ministry at St. Basil’s Church and ONEXONE. In her spare time, Margaret enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.

John Paul Farahat

John Paul Farahat

Director of Music & Principal Organist

John Paul Farahat fosters a diverse career as organist, accompanist, and conductor. He holds the post of Director of Music and Principal Organist of Saint Basil’s Catholic Parish, the collegiate church of the University of Saint Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, where he oversees the historic 1919 Casavant Frères organ (opus 800) as well as the parish’s various music initiatives. Before coming to Saint Basil’s, John Paul served as Organ Scholar at the Anglican Church of Saint Clement.

Active as an international concert organist, John Paul’s notable past engagements include Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, Saint Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in London, UK, and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, as well as the ORGANIX festival and the Cathedral Church of Saint James in Toronto, the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, and Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Buffalo.

John Paul Farahat is pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance degree from the University of Toronto in the organ studio of Kevin Komisaruk, with whom he has also studied harpsichord and improvisation. He has received direct masterclass instruction from Peter Williams, Olivier Latry, Thomas Murray, Noam Sivan, and Martin Haselböck. John Paul is an alumnus of Saint Michael’s Choir School, Toronto, and a former chorister of Saint Michael’s Cathedral Basilica.

Emily VanBerkum

Emily VanBerkum

Director of Pastoral Ministries

Emily VanBerkum completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts with high distinction in Christianity and Culture at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. She is also a recent graduate of the University of St. Michael’s College Faculty of Theology, having earned a Master of Divinity.

Her scholastic interests include the historical development of the liturgy, theology of ministry, Catholic social teaching, as well as inter-religious dialogue and practice. As part of theological field placements, Emily has interned at Baycrest Geriatric Centre and the Ecumenical Chaplaincy in the University of Toronto.

At the University of St. Michael’s College, she served as the Liturgical Coordinator for the Campus Ministry, Chair of the Faculty of Theology Liturgy Committee, Senior Residence Don, and Director of the Miller Group, a community outreach program.

She also works with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as an Ecumenical Dialogue Secretary.

Marilena Berardinelli

Marilena Berardinelli

Director of Family Ministries

While on an extended maternity leave from her teaching position for the TCDSB, Marilena Berardinelli coordinates the Family Ministry Program at St. Basil’s Catholic Parish.

She brings to parish ministry her vast experience as a teacher of religious education, chaplaincy team leader and consultant for OECTA’s religious education additional qualifications courses. Her area of expertise is in the area of writing religious education curriculum for school boards, parishes and other Catholic organizations.

Originally from Montreal (Quebec), Marilena has a vast pastoral experience of the Canadian church. In 2003 she moved to Toronto where she earned her Master’s of Religious Education from St. Michael’s College Faculty of Theology. She has since worked in various school and parish settings and has written and successfully coordinated various catechetical and sacramental programs.

Marilena is a third order Salesian (also known as Salesian Cooperators). Her dedication to evangelize in Don Bosco’s spirit of “reason, religion and loving-kindness” is at the heart of her vocation. She brings this enthusiasm and commitment to St. Basil’s in her ministry with engaged couples and young families.

Marilena has been married for almost ten years and has two children. She and her husband are expecting their third child this August.