Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 31, 2000
Calgary kicks off a year of jubilee
Special to the WCR
As yellow and white Vatican flags waved in the winter wind atop the spire of St. Mary's Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary held its first celebration during the Great Jubilee by hosting a city-wide ecumenical gathering.
More than 550 people attended a prayer service on Jan. 25 marking the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Representatives from the five mainline Christian denominations - Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United - along with Pentecostal and Mennonite members, participated in the service as readers, musicians, choir members and worship leaders.
"The jubilee celebrations that are ecumenical in nature are going to involve other churches in the preparation and planning of them, not just the presentation and attendance," said Anna Tremblay, chair of the diocesan Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs Commission.
The evening was jointly hosted by the commission, the diocesan jubilee committee, the Calgary Council of Churches, and the city's L'Arche community.
Tremblay said in an interview that the diocese decided to use the Week of Prayer service as its initial celebration because Christian unity is of vital concern to the Church.
During the prayer service homily, Anglican Bishop Gary Woolsey told worshippers there are times when Christians can become discouraged as disciples of Jesus Christ.
In recent years, some have suggested that this is the season of winter in the ecumenical movement, said the assistant bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary.
"But I am more convinced today that the Spirit is moving the Church in very subtle ways," he said.
He cited several signs of hope, including Pope John Paul's renewed efforts to work toward Christian unity during Jubilee 2000 celebrations; the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian leaders joining the pontiff as he opened a Holy Door in Rome to begin jubilee celebrations; and the Anglican-Lutheran-Roman Catholic covenant signed in Calgary in 1996.
"My friends in Christ, do not lose heart in your pilgrimage to be one in Christ," Woolsey said. "Be bold in your witness and seek ways to be at one so the world may believe."
The Week of Prayer celebration is the first of more than a dozen celebrations planned in the Calgary Diocese during 2000.
The diocese, whose eight-member committee has been preparing for the jubilee for three years, wanted to involve as many people as possible from across southern Alberta, which has almost 340,000 Catholics.
The committee thought that if it held a single massive jubilee celebration, many people, including priests, would miss it, Sister Maria Nakagawa, coordinator for the diocesan jubilee celebrations, said in an interview.
Instead, a series of monthly celebrations will focus on a variety of themes, such as vocations, senior citizens and the sick, and health care workers.
One celebration on June 29 is a multicultural Mass with participation from a large cross-section of ethnic groups. Another on Sept. 4 honours workers, crafters, builders and trades people. It calls for them to bring their tools to St. Mary's College in Midnapore to be laid out on the ground and blessed.
Much of the diocesan planning has devolved to the parish level where a wide range of activities is planned. For instance, Holy Spirit Parish is building a wall of shoeboxes containing items for the homeless, including soap, toiletries and wash cloths, that runs the length of the church.
A rural deanery surrounding Calgary is asking every family to contribute a loonie a week to help expand and upgrade an orphanage operated by the Sisters of the Divine Infant in Mexico.
In another major project, a joint diocesan pilgrimage is planned for July to visit the Scollen Cairn, the site of the area's first church, the Mission of Our Lady of Peace, west of the city.
"You should see the schools," said Nakagawa. "Everywhere they are having Masses. There is so much enthusiasm. The schools are doing marvellous."
At the diocese's mother church and primary pilgrimage site, four papal and Marian flags flutter from St. Mary's Cathedral spire. Inside the entrance is an elaborately carved wooden door blessed by the bishop on Christmas Eve. Jubilee banners hang at the front of the cathedral.
At the end of the Week of Prayer service, Tom Connelly of Strathmore's Sacred Heart Catholic Parish and Elizabeth Duncan of Valleyview Presbyterian joined the worship leaders and greeters in distributing red, pink and white carnations to everyone at the gathering.
"What we have here, what we have received, we must take with us into the world," said Connelly.
"We are like the flowers in a garden: lovely individually but together an even more beautiful reflection of God's love. We are called forth to nurture what has been planted into that glorious garden which will be a sign to the world of our unity."