Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
March 15, 2004
WCR Letters to the Editor
A parishioner appeals
Closure, to end or finish, is the reality facing the parishioners ofSt. Francis of Assisi Church, in north east Edmonton in June 2005.
A parish that will be 95 years old this year, free of debt, even after many additions and renovations with a bank balance that would be the envy of any parish, with spacious rooms for meetings, excellent parking facilities and land for any large additions.
St. Francis Parish is noted for its openness to the community it serves, with a food bank operation that is the second largest outside of the Edmonton core, and in an area that is socio-economically depressed which depends heavily upon this food bank and the Church for the comfort and spiritual needs that it offers.
St. Francis is an active and vibrant church that supports and lends its facilities to many groups such as secular Franciscans, men's clubs, social committees, AA groups, young chefs programs, CWL, missions for young children from other parishes, parish suppers and outings for young families, space for sacramental preparation groups, children's liturgy at Sunday Masses, and an exemplary working relationship with St. Francis School next to the Church, also offering a children's Mass and altar servers from the school for a weekday Mass. St. Francis also sponsors a Third World child and refugee families.
Is all of the above to come to an abrupt and rather callous end. It certainly is not the wishes of St. Francis parishioners.
In a letter from Archbishop Thomas Collins, addressed to the provincial order of Friars Minor, and not specifically to the pastor or parishioners of St. Francis Church which comes under the guidance and control of the Archdiocese of Edmonton, informs us in a matter-of-fact manner that the church will close in the summer of 2005 when our pastor Father Dennis Vavrek's term ends.
We, the parishioners now understand that the Church is already up for sale and we are put in a position to assume that nothing more can be done.
Many parishioners are wondering if there was sufficient consideration given to the sharing of a priest, even for one Sunday Mass, just enough to keep the parish open so that the programs could continue and meet the spiritual and social needs of this community. St. Francis Parish was always there to help other surrounding parishes get established.
Is there one priest in the archdiocese or outside who would give of his precious time to save this historic church? Its parishioners who would be ever grateful, offering all assistance.
Franciscan reports on city initiatives
In reading the article, entitled "Franciscans Pull Back as Numbers Dwindle"(WCR, March 1), I was struck by the realities which we Franciscans had discussed for many years. A sense of finality, now in big print on front page, came as a shock even to me.
I thought I had dealt with my reluctance to let go of the parish and friary, which had been the centre of Franciscan life and mission in Alberta, and with my sadness at seeing the many years of our communal life in St. Francis Parish fade away. I felt again a sort of grief which, I know, is shared by many parishioners, college alumni, and friends.
It is not easy in the darkness of grief to see the light of hope or to discern and accept the hand of God. Mention of closing, declining numbers, and fewer vocations, although realities, eclipses the fact that newness of life is occurring.
The facts that a restructuring of our Franciscan province is occurring, that we are remaining in the city, that ministry will continue, that a new house of formation and head office is in the works, and that various new initiatives are arising are indicative not only of a continuity but also a newness of life and hope.
We Franciscans are regrouping and investing our energies and resources to try to assure a continued Franciscan presence and service to the Church.
Hope is stronger than the pain of change; and hope is what we all need as we, the Church, face the future.
Fr. Bob Mokry, ofm
Franciscans of Western Canada
Christian appreciates Catholic faith, priests
On March 5, I attended the funeral of retired police officer, Brendan Burke, at St. Joseph's Basilica in Edmonton.
The service was lovely, and I must commend Father Len Gartner for including a tribute to RCMP Cpl. James Galloway, whose funeral was taking place at the same time in Sherwood Park.
Cpl. Galloway was killed on duty, and one cannot help but draw a parallel between Christ offering himself as a sacrifice for us, and a man who would willingly place his life in jeopardy, on our behalf.
Although not a Catholic, I am a Bible-believing Christian, with several Catholic friends who mean a lot to me. Because of that, I occasionally find myself worshipping in Catholic churches.
I wanted to take a moment and tell you how enriching an experience that is for me. I have always been warmly welcomed, and left the service feeling spiritually refreshed. Interestingly enough, I have come to know a Catholic priest whose niece is active in a local branch of the Alliance Church. This priest's sentiments echo mine. He is made very welcome by the Alliance folk, and enjoys the time he spends with them.
I'm pretty excited about that sort of thing. Irrespective of the labels we wear, a lot of effort is being expended these days to concentrate on Christ's message, as opposed to simply emphasizing our own Church dogma - much of which is man-made.
Whether it's the Alpha program we both use or our mutual admiration of The Passion movie, we have so very much in common as we each seek to enhance our personal relationship with Christ.
I hope the trend continues.
Priest critiques The Passion
Recently I saw the movie, The Passion of the Christ produced by Mel Gibson. It is indeed a brutal film. During the presentation, a childhood memory came back to me of the time my Grade 7 class visited a Canada Packers plant. It was not a pleasant experience for me, nor was the movie.
I hope Mel Gibson is satisfied. For a more complete experience of the life of Christ (including his Passion), and for a better understanding of who he is, I strongly recommend the movie called The Gospel According to John.
This movie will help us to understand the Lord better, and perhaps even to fall in love with him and to want to serve him.
As is said by some, "De gustibus non disputandum" and finally, "Deus, miserere nobis."
Fr. Clem Gauthier
Response - 03/22/04
New RCIA c'tee to give better service
In reply to Leonard Allbon's letter("Former RCIA member voices his concerns," WCR, March 8), I wish to make a few comments.
The Liturgy Office has been given responsibility for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and the Christian Initiation of Children at the archdiocesan level, effective Sept. 1, 2004. There will be a restructured committee that will function as a subcommittee of the Liturgical Advisory Committee.
The reason for this change is that it is considered necessary to improve and strengthen the connection between the committee and the Liturgy Office in order to provide increased service to the RCIA and CIC teams throughout the archdiocese.
The restructured sub-committee will have wider representation from the various regions of the archdiocese and will include representation from the Catechetics Office of the Catholic Pastoral Centre. It is anticipated that some of the present members will continue to serve on the new sub-committee.
The present archdiocesan RCIA committee has served the archdiocese well over the years and the contributions of the present and previous members to the development of the RCIA within the archdiocese is deeply appreciated. We hope to continue to build on the excellent work of these people.
Rose Marie Fowler
Director of Liturgy
Archdiocese of Edmonton