Carmel Hili

Carmel is currently involved in helping to sponsor and settle families from Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.

November 29, 2021 | | Over the Next Hill

Snapshot: Meet a Community Elder

Carmel Hili’s life is balanced between service and activism. He grew up in Malta, joined the Jesuits at the age of 17 and, several years later, immigrated to Canada to study theology at Regis College. “I ultimately made the decision not to be ordained as a priest, but my years studying theology were the foundation – and the roadmap – for my life,” he says.

Carmel Hili has devoted his life to advocating for the homeless. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Carmel Hili has devoted his life to advocating for the homeless. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

After changing his calling, Carmel became one of the first employees of the Toronto Christian Resource Centre, a not-for-profit organization that established drop-in centres for the homeless, as well as food programs, job training and advocacy in the social housing area. In his role as a community worker, he helped develop programs for at-risk youth, low-income families and people who were homeless. “The goal was always to help people help themselves, not to simply provide handouts,” he says.

In the 1970s and ’80s, when developers were moving into Toronto’s downtown core and razing rooming houses to make space for highrises, Carmel helped save many from the wrecking ball. He actively advocated for all levels of housing, cheering enthusiastically when social housing programs became reality. Ultimately, he spent 35 years helping people live with security and dignity.

He and his wife, Anne Marie, resettled in Bolton in 1984, and after retiring, Carmel got busy in his new community. He drove for Caledon Community Services, initially for five days a week, served with a strategy group studying homelessness in Caledon, and is currently involved in helping to sponsor and settle families from Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.

“Make good use of the time you’ve got,” he says. At 84, Carmel still walks the talk.

About the Author More by Gail Grant

Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

Related Stories

Donna Holmes at the door of the Mono pioneer church that has been part of her life for as long as she can remember. “It’s where real life happens,” she says. Photo by Brenda Holmes.

Donna Holmes

Sep 24, 2021 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

This devoted Relessey Cemetery Board volunteer helps the group manages the graveyard next to the Mono church, which dates back to the 1870s.

On her last day as a rural mail carrier, Connie Tersigni bade farewell to Beau, who would miss his treats. Photo by Bernie Rochon.

Connie Tersigni

Jun 22, 2021 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

When Connie started her route, there were no street numbers in Caledon.

Bruce Wanless won three MVP awards in Ontario lacrosse leagues and played on four national championship teams. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Bruce Wanless

Mar 31, 2021 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Humble beginnings for Bruce, who is considered one of lacrosse’s all-time great defensive players.

In his long career in the space program, Alex Rodrigues travelled regularly to the Kennedy Space Center for work on the Canadarm. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Alex Rodrigues

Nov 24, 2020 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

This award-winning senior writes a newsletter for more than 400 of his peers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to vjones@inthehills.ca.