A group of Toronto volunteers couldn't have picked a better time to discover a lost work of art.

Alberta Nokes said her group, the Manning Ulster Refugee Project, was holding a meeting at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene about its plans to sponsor a family of Syrian refugees. During the meeting, attended by church officials and community members, there was a suggestion to look through some odds and ends in the warden's office for things to sell.

Nokes was glad they looked.

Nestled among other framed pictures, the group found a stunning lithograph print called Dark Angel, by the late Canadian war artist Jack Nichols. The painting had been locked away for some 30 years, church officials believe.

"I think it was just waiting for us," Nokes told CBC News.

"It was very fortuitous to find it at this time."

Toronto found art

The Manning Ulster Refugee Project plans to auction off all of the artworks they found locked away and gathering dust in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Toronto, with the church's blessing, of course. (CBC)

While Nichols' work may be the standout find, the group also uncovered other prints in handmade frames dating back to the 1800s as well as some unique ceramic pieces. Some pieces, they learned, had been donated to the church by the late Budd Sugarman, the interior designer and philanthropist many knew as the unofficial mayor of Yorkville.

With the church's blessing, the group plans to auction off Dark Angel and the other art next week to raise money to sponsor a Syrian family.

Nokes said she thinks it's fitting that Nichol's artwork about the horrors of war will be able to help a family fleeing the violence in Syria start a new life here.

Toronto lost art sale

The group says the money raised from an upcoming silent auction will help sponsor a Syrian refugee family. (CBC)