Home  l Current Issue l From the Editor l Essays l Resources  l Event Reports l

l Contact l Mission l Peace Poetry l  

  Interfaith Unity 

is a free publication of Interfaith and Inter-Spiritual activities, news, and resources, 

in Toronto, Southern Ontario, Nationally and Internationally

Event listings are run free of charge. Please submit by the deadline date shown on the current newsletter.

Contact us at:  info@interfaithunity.ca



Member of: Toronto & Area Interfaith Council

Associate of: United Religions Initiative


TO SUBSCRIBE: Send name, e-mail address and phone number to: info@interfaithunity.com








The Golden Rule in World Religions

THE GOLDEN RULE POSTER Multi-faith Sacred Writings and Symbols from 13 Traditions  

Mayor David Miller Meets With The Toronto Area Interfaith Council

TRANSFORMING DEVELOPMENT Exploring Approaches to Development from Religious Perspectives



A SALUTE TO CANADA My Adopted Land Of Unparalleled Multicultural And Religious Diversity

NAIN GATHERS IN VANCOUVER Stealing away to Paradise 

THE GOLDEN RULE: Unity in Diversity  






- Helena ’s Voyage and Paul’s journey.

By: Raheel Raza, Director
Raheel Raza Diversity Inc./Forum for Learning

"Love expects no reward. Love knows no fear. Love Divine gives - does not demand. 

Love thinks no evil; imputes no motive. To Love is to share and serve."


While I’ve always believed that nothing in life is a co-incidence, there are times when this feeling is so clearly reinforced that it’s like an awakening. Something like this happened to me a few weeks ago.

Last year I spoke on a panel at an event held by University of Toronto called ABRAHAM’S LIGHT. As with public events, I met many people and one of them was a man who said he would have a book out in 2008. I filed that information at the back of my head. Few weeks ago I got an email from Paul Harbridge reminding me where we had met and asking if I would review his book Helena ’s Voyage. At this point neither Paul nor the book meant anything to me other than an author promoting a book. I had just had a new grandchild and was a bit selfishly involved in my own life and worries about how to make a living.  So I said we could meet later in the month when I had more time, but Paul called back and said he would drop off a copy.

On Sunday the doorbell rang and I was a bit irritated because I wasn’t expecting anyone and had my grandson in my arms. I opened the door and in an instant something flashed through the eyes of the man standing there and hit my heart. There was immense pain in Paul Harbridge’s eyes as he stood there holding his book. Later he told me that the sight of a baby in my arms made him weep on the way home. Only later I discovered that Paul’s 18 year old daughter Helena had died in her sleep and this book is dedicated to her. Although this is Paul and Helena’s story there is a deep personal connection. I realized when I saw Paul standing at my doorstep that my life was meant to be a bridge for others – the only tears I could weep would have to be for others and that my purpose in life was not me – but people like Paul crying out for spiritual aid! How foolish and petty are my worries compared to the enormous weight carried by people like Paul. I was humbled beyond belief and thrown into action.

I met Paul the following week to get details and this is his journey about Helena ’s voyage. Paul Harbridge is a speech language pathologist living in Toronto . He had two children, a son named Daniel who is 25 and a daughter named Helena . Paul’s wife is from Spain so he says that he always felt his kids carried in them a dual heritage – their Spanish heritage which Paul associates with the grandeur of Spain when three traditions thrived there. Paul and his family often travelled to Spain .

Paul was raised as an evangelical Christian but later he became a devout Catholic. He says he was religious but never spiritual until Helena passed away. Helena was his love and joy.

Helena had a special sparkle, she was full of life”. When Helena was a child she had asthma and would call herself “ a sick girl”. However she grew up to be strong and played in golf tournaments becoming a top golfer for the Canadian Junior Golf Association in 2004. Academically Helena was so bright that she got a scholarship to University of West Georgia and went to study there. Helena was always helpful with other kids and was known to have a warm and loving heart.

On Easter Saturday in 2006, Helena was getting ready to come home to her family in Toronto . She called in the morning and said she was going to take a nap and call later in the evening to give her flight details. She never woke up. The University found her the next day when she didn’t call home and the parents panicked. Doctors said it was some form of heart arrhythmia.

The family flew to Georgia and brought Helena’s body home. That night Helena’s brother Daniel stood in the porch of their home and cried so much that a mound of tears was frozen near the door. Paul says he remembers that night – he felt his heart would burst. He looked up to heaven and asked God “How am I going to get through this? What am I going to do with all the love I have for my daughter?”  He says he heard a response as though from Helena . The response was “Find a spiritual path and spread the love. Look after people and give them love.”

Paul and his wife started reading, meditation and contemplation. It wasn’t easy. “Pictures of Helena would flash in front of my eyes and if there had been a way to leave life to go and be with her, I would have done so”. At this point in life Paul heard Karen Armstrong on TV and she mentioned two books. One was The History of God and the other was The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain by Maria Rosa Menocal. Paul got both books and started to read them. He says “I was fascinated by the connectedness between the three Abrahamic  traditions”. 

Partway through the books, he and his wife went to Spain to see his in-laws and he read the rest of the books there. “ Reading about Spain in Spain was more inspirational than I could have thought. Here is where an idea took seed in my mind to write a story about a Jewish girl whose grandfather was a physician in the court of Spain.” Paul is not an artist or a painter but he doodles. “One day I doodled a picture of a teddy bear in a boat entering a Jewish City – the teddy bear became a young girl and it took me exactly half a day to write Helena ’s Voyage.”  What about the illustrations? “My wife encouraged me to try and draw but that was hard. I drew the last page first – it took me 12 hours for every illustration. But I did it and that was how Helena ’s Voyage came about.” Paul’s son Daniel put the book on You Tube and made the DVD adding spiritual music.

For Paul this was also his spiritual awakening. “Every time I went to the computer to write, I used to light two candles. One for Helena and one for her Spanish grandfather”.

Paul says his other purpose for writing the book is “at the time I was reading Armstrong and Menocal I was also seeing images on TV of parents holding their dead children, killed by bombs, in the Middle East and because I had lost Helena, I knew their grief for the first time in my life. That too influenced my decision to write Helena's Voyage.”

I asked Paul what is his vision for Helena’s Voyage and he said “I think my real dream is to one day seeing Jews, Christians and Muslims united (not one religion but united in purpose) to bring the word of God to a broken secular materialistic numbers-focused world.  To tell others that there is a God that loves us all, that there are universal divine laws to guide us, that there is a Spirit to strengthen us and give us wisdom, that true happiness comes when we submit ourselves to doing God's will, and that love is the only true force in this universe for God is love. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see us, our differences set aside, our commonality assumed, all working side by side to do God's work? That is my dream.”

In some ways Paul Harbridge and Helena’s Voyage have reinforced that need for spreading God’s love and God’s word. I want to help get the word out because there are many different ways this is being done and I want to be a miniscule part of that labor of love.

"For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Helena’s Voyage will be released in July but is available on Amazon and at Chapters. Meanwhile here is information about the book. The book is simple yet profound and the best review is from the children for whom it was written although it’s a book that should be read by every adult as well. www.helenasvoyage.com 

Paul welcomes this being posted on websites.
Paul did his first reading at the school where Helena studied as a child. The school has laid a brick in Helena ’s name.

Helena ’s Voyage Reviews by Children in a Grade 6 class in Toronto

I really liked this book. It is an important thing for everyone to read. It has a revolutionary idea and shows how we can all get along. It has a deep meaning with great artistic simplicity. Helena ’s Voyage is about a girl who is visited by an angel and taken on a journey to three cities. They are greeted by a man and a boy at each city who will help teach her a special message. Heydon, Grade 6

I was truly inspired by Paul Harbridge’s story. His book was really interesting and I enjoyed reading it. The illustrations were so simple, but matched the story perfectly. I still can’t believe he did them on Paint! It shows how much he loved Helena by writing a book dedicated to her. I love the book and will definitely buy it! Danielle, Grade 6

I have to say that Paul Harbridge is the most impressive 1st time author ever! I enjoyed listening to his story and seeing how he could still write an amazing book. The pictures were simple but I thought they matched the book. To me the book was a big hit and I’m sure that every child that reads it would not only realize the message that is sent out but they would love it. Congratulations Paul Harbridge. Good Job! Sincerely,  Antoinette, Grade 6

The story was really good and I think it will be a best seller. The main story was really original and the pictures were great. The pictures were great because since it was made by “Paint” in the computer, it would be very hard for me to draw. It was very very detailed. At the end of the story, there is a translated version of the story in Hebrew and Arabic which is a pretty cool thing. In conclusion, this book is a good book for kids in grade 5 and up. I also hope that I help the person who is reading this. Jared, Grade 6

Helena ’s Voyage” was a pretty good book. I like the way you put 3 religions in your story. If someone was really sensitive and read this book, that person would probably cry (that’s a compliment). If people from those 3 religions read this book, those people might not fight with other religions. I loved the illustrations in your book. They were really good. Christina, Grade 6

Paul Harbridge is an amazing author, not to mention a great illustrator! He had great ideas for his book and it can inspire many children around the world about religions co-operating with each other. May God bless Helena on her great voyage.  Elysia, Grade 6

When Paul Harbridge came in to talk about his daughter I thought it was awesome. I thought it was awesome because it was his first time. He did a great job. His illustrations were amazing because it was different than all the other illustrations. It was really neat how he has it in different languages. Another thing was how he used those symbols and made the picture in a medallion. It was very interesting and awesome. Thank you for coming in very much. Shealagh, Grade 6

When Paul Harbridge came in to tell us all about Helena and the wonderful book he had written I was amazed on how athletic Helena was. The things I heard about her made me realize that she liked the way she was, it was like I knew Helena , like she was my friend. It was as if I was looking at Helena like she was an angel. Paul Harbridge showed us trophies and pictures of Helena , he also showed us the book, trailer and movie. Stephanie, Grade 6

Paul Harbridge did a wonderful job of teaching children that we are all different but we are all God’s children. For such a beautiful book with a strong message, the pictures were very simple and heavenly. For a first time author, Paul Harbridge did a wonderful job! This book should be read around the world so that the message can be spread. Congratulations to Paul Harbridge and all his success! Sydney , Grade 6

Our neighbour is God and everyone living on earth. Stephanie, Grade 6

I thought the book and DVD was excellent! The pictures were very good simple, which is good. I liked how there were three different religions and how it showed we’re all one God, many voices, one people. Paul Harbridge is a great children’s author! Victoria , Grade 6















Go To Top