Join Us for MNLCT's 40th Anniversary Celebration!


February 10, 2024, 5 PM – 1 AM

LiUNA! Local 183 – Wilson Centre

Gerry Gallagher Hall

1263 Wilson Ave, North York

We will have:

· Multicultural performers:

  • Summer Guitar Orchestra
  • Kaleidoscope Chinese Performing Arts (KCPA)
  • Salsa Y Sabor
  • Mother & daughter singers, Lily & Annie
  • Jose luis Valdes
  • Ukrainian musician & singer, Tetiana Cherneta
  • Huairapungo
  • Sabor Vallenato

· Silent auction

· Food and drinks can be purchased on site

· Free admission for children under 18 years old!

· Free parking

Don't have tickets yet, or need additional tickets?

You can get tickets at the door or click the button below to buy online.

Sponsored by:

40 Years of MNLCT

Watch stories about our centre's past, present and future from MNLCT's founders, partners, donors, staff, and clients.


Betty Puricelli, Founding Director

Betty Puricelli and her husband Adolfo Puricelli were founding directors of our Centre. Listen to her story about MNLCT's first days.

Liz & Alf Koop

Watch Liz and Alf Koop's story about the early days of MNLCT. Alf was one of the original members of our Board of Directors.

Tanya Chute-Molina, Former MNLCT Executive Director

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, we sat down with Tanya Chute-Molina, who served as the Executive Director of the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto (MNLCT), after founders Alf and Betty Puricelli.

Watch our teaser video where she discusses how she came into her position and supported the advancements of the small-scale projects the staff had already started.

Dwayne O'Connor, MNLCT Executive Director

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, Executive Director Dwayne O’Connor sits down for an interview to discuss his plans for the future of the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto. He also discusses what drew him to the Centre, and what sets it apart from its competition.

Rochelle Fine, MNLCT Board Chair

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, we sat down with MNLCT’s Board Chair Rochelle Fine to discuss her involvement with the Centre.

She spoke about how she first joined the Board and reflected on the journey we shared. She also highlighted the importance of providing newcomers with mental health support.

Miriam Reesor, MNLCT Past Board Chair

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, Miriam Reesor, a long-time supporter and Board member of the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto (MNLCT), sat down with us to talk about the work she did when she was with the MNLCT.

Miriam served as the Chair of the Board for seven years and participated in the bridging programs when they were first created.

Bruce Burgetz, MNLCT Board Chair for 22 years

Bruce Burgetz was the chair of the MNLCT board for 22 years before stepping down in 2008.

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, we interviewed Bruce about the early beginnings of MNLCT and the memories he made serving the community.

Beatrice Traub-Werner, Academic Director of Bridge Program for Mental Health Professionals (now BREM)

In celebration for our 40th anniversary, we talked to Beatrice Traub-Werner, who joined the MNLCT in the 2000s and became an active member of our organization. Her expertise in social work and her exemplary work ethic earned her the title of BREM’s first Academic Director.

Listen to Beatrice speak about her journey, and what she wishes for the future of the MNLCT.


Cindy Lee, the child protection supervisor from the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto

MNLCT has enjoyed partnerships with various community organizations since our inception. In celebration of our 40th anniversary, we sat down with Cindy Lee, the child protection supervisor from the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto to discuss “Supporting Family Connections.” 

This admission-prevention program was started in 2014 with the goal of keeping children in the Latin-speaking community with their families. Almost a decade later, both the program and partnership remain strong in serving the members of our communities.

Laura Monastero, the program manager at the Canadian Mental Health Association

Laura Monastero, the program manager at the Canadian Mental Health Association, shares the history behind the longtime partnership between CMHA and MNLCT.

The partnership, which focuses on providing certain communities with mental health resources and leadership skills, has been running for about 12 years.

From the beginnings of supporting the Spanish-speaking community to now providing placement opportunities to MNLCT students, this partnership has had its ups and downs.

Reminisce with Laura as she shares her fondest memories in celebration of our 40th anniversary.

Maryann Istiloglu, the ED of Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals

The Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto and the Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals have a long standing collaboration on the Bridge to Registration & Employment in Mental Health (BREM) program.

We sat down with OAMHP Executive Director Maryann Istiloglu to discuss how BREM supports newcomer professionals in celebration of our 40th anniversary.

Gerard Keledjian, New Horizons Media's Founder

Gerard Keledjian, the founder and managing director of New Horizons Media, stumbled upon MNLCT when he first came to Canada. Through various networking sessions and collaborations with the Centre, Gerard assisted in creating MNLCT’s Bridge to Employment in Media and Communications (BEMC) program.


Tracy Docheff, Bridging Programs Director

As part of our 40th anniversary series, MNLCT’s Bridging Program Director Tracy Docheff, who also served as Communications Manager, talks about the various programs the Centre has produced over the years. From the bridging programs to the collaborative initiatives with different organizations, Tracy discussed the ways in which the Centre has evolved.

Jorge Silvestri, LINC Program Director

As part of our 40th anniversary series, we spoke to Jorge Silvestri, MNLCT’s LINC program manager.

Jorge first joined the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto (MNLCT) in 1989. After various volunteering positions and joining the team as a staff member, he became part of the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program as the program manager in 1995.

We took a trip down memory lane with Jorge as he recounts his early days at MNLCT, how his role expanded and the what the future looks like for the Centre, especially its LINC program.

Teresa Wiens, LINC Head Teacher

Teresa Wiens has been teaching English to newcomers at the Centre for 23 years now. Throughout this time, Teresa has met and helped immigrants from several backgrounds improve their English language skills.

As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, Teresa recounts her dynamic journey with MNLCT, contributing to easier settlement experiences for newcomers.

Watch Teresa’s story of growth, joys, challenges, and everything in between.


Juan Carlos, MNLCT's former client

Juan Carlos was born with a disability. When Carlos and his mom moved to Canada in 2005, MNLCT helped secure his first wheel chair. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, we bring you the story of one of our former clients – Carlos – whose life was forever impacted by one act of kindness from the Centre.

Shahrzad Hazrati, Better Life Counselling Centre Clinical Director, BTMH (now BREM) Alum

Shahrzad Hazrati, an alumni of our BREM program, is the clinical director of Better Life Counselling Center. For our 40th anniversary, we wanted to share how our bridging programs set clients up for success.

Shahrzad sat down with us and spoke about how the BREM program supported her when she was making the early steps into her career in Canada.

Mirna Chacin and Maria McCormick

Mirna Chacin and Maria McCormick, longtime supporters and volunteers at the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto (MNLCT), came to Canada in 2011. When they found out about the Centre, they quickly settled into this community, volunteering whenever possible. They brought their respective passions, photography and corporate leadership, into their volunteering and have contributed greatly to the Centre.

Watch this video to learn more about their journey!

Our History

The story of the Mennonites is marked by forced migration from central Europe to Russia, and later on to North and South America. Over the centuries, many Mennonites were brutally persecuted for their open opposition to violence and affirmation of the separation of church and state.

This experience has inspired a special concern for service and solidarity with refugees from around the world. Heavily involved in sponsoring Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s, Ontario Mennonites later began to look for opportunities to support a new wave of refugees coming from Latin America.

After an initial period of research and needs assessment with the Latin American community in Toronto, the Mennonite New Life Centre was founded in 1983.

Over the years, the founding vision of service and solidarity with refugees and displaced peoples has led the Mennonite New Life Centre to reach out to new refugee and immigrant communities, adapting and expanding our programs to respond to diverse needs and aspirations.

At each step of the way, the New Life Centre has worked to build a caring and inclusive community, where the ideas and contributions of newcomers are respected and valued. Together, newcomers and neighbours, we support each other, learn from each other, and take action together for a more just and compassionate society.

Share your story about MNLCT

What's Your Story


The Mennonite New Life Centre comes into being under the leadership of founding directors Adolfo and Betty Puricelli.

A Board of Directors is formed, with representation from supporting Mennonite churches.

 In partnership with the St Clair O Connor housing project, MNLCT opens a reception centre to offer temporary shelter to refugees arriving in Toronto.

 MNLCT launches our LINC Program, to support refugees and immigrants in learning the English fluency needed to be successful in Canada.

 MNLCT moves to 1774 Queen St E, a building shared with two Toronto Mennonite churches. Around this time, the Centre begins to respond to a new refugee movement from the former Yugoslavia.

 MNLCT extends settlement services in Mandarin to a growing Chinese immigrant community.

 MNLCT conducts a visioning process, identifying community engagement, employment and mental health as strategic priorities. Work begins on the development of the Newcomer Skills at Work Project, which combines employment mentoring and civic engagement strategies to support newcomers in contributing their skills to the labour market and their voice to the political process.

 MNLCT opens a new office at 2600 Birchmount Rd, bringing its language and settlement services to a growing number of immigrants in Scarborough.

 MNLCT celebrates its 25th anniversary by launching our first two internships for internationally trained psychologists, strengthening our mental health supports for refugees and immigrants struggling with different kinds of stress and trauma.

 MNLCT opens a new office at 2737 Keele St, deepening its relationship with the Latin American community.

 MNLCT launches the Bridge Training Program for Internationally Trained Psychologists and Allied Mental Health Professionals.

 MNLCT amended its bylaws to better reflect its identity as an inclusive organization, and adopted a community-based membership structure.

 MNLCT become the settlement partner to Aurora House to provide transitional and mental health supports to those in need.

The Toronto New Life Wellness Place, a social enterprise of the MNLCT, opened its doors to provide multicultural, multilingual therapeutic wellness services for people needing mental health and wellness support.

 MNLCT opened a Finch office. The office is home to two bridging programs – Bridge to Registration and Employment in Mental Health (BREM) and Bridge to Employment in Media and Communications (BEMC) – as well as settlement and mental health counselling services. 

MNLCT held a number of community events

  • the Integration Through Recreation Celebration,
    a Volunteer and Donor Appreciation Concert and Luncheon
  • a Community Picnic in High Park
  • the Giving with Love Fundraiser
  • the Holiday Crafts and Food Marketplace

The COVID-19 global pandemic washed over our lives, our plans, and our dreams. We made the decision to pivot to full virtual services. 

We launched an #AskMNLCT weekly  webinar series. Participants could ask their most pressing questions.

 MNLCT served 4500 people this year. We launched two new bridging programs:

  • Bridge to Employment in Services for Immigrant Populations (BESIP)
  • Bridge for Immigrant Women Reskilling into IT Coding Professions (C-Women)

MNLCT celebrates the 40th anniversary! Throughout 2023, we shared stories about our centre’s past, present and future from MNLCT’s founders, donors, staff, and clients.

Thanks to Our Generous Community Members

The growth and success of the MNLCT community is possible thanks to the generous support of our Matching Partner and Caring Circle donors.

25th Anniversary: “Walking Together“

by Luis Alberto Mata

Originally written in Spanish by the Colombian journalist and then, MNLCT volunteer, Luis Mata, Walking Together is an account of the institutional history of the Mennonite New Life Centre for its 25th Anniversary in 2008.

Aquí puede leer el documento Caminando Juntos en español.

30th Anniversary: Benefit Concert and Spaghetti Dinner

Our Mennonite Heritage

Drawing on the inspiration of our Mennonite heritage, the New Life Centre seeks to be a place of community and mutual support for newcomers of a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds.

The Mennonite New Life Centre originates in a strong tradition of peace and service work by Mennonite churches. Mennonite history is marked by a long series of migrations and movements driven by religious persecution, as well as the desire to maintain a distinct way of life based on values of peace and non-violence.

Mennonites therefore have a strong concern for immigrants and refugees, particularly the most vulnerable. At MNLCT, we welcome refugees from all sides of world conflicts, striving to be a place of healing and reconciliation. Our services offer victims of violence an opportunity to express and grieve their losses, while seeking hope and purpose for the future. Advocacy work gives expression to our call to build a better world, where violence and injustice would cease, and a better Canada, where all newcomers might experience compassion and fairness.

Our goal is to serve, not to convert. Clients are encouraged and supported in giving expression to their own values, and their own dreams for the future.

At the New Life Centre, we show our compassion for newcomers in practical ways by answering questions, helping with immigration needs, teaching English. Together, we build community, a place for the voice and participation of all.

yellow leafs

“Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto has a lot of angels. Thank you all for helping me to be myself again.”

What’s Your Story

orange arches
green and orange leafs

Help create an inclusive
& diverse Canada