Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 3, 2002
Church sale upsets parishoners
Parking, growth force change at St. Theresa
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"Decisions were made in secret without the average parishioner having an input."
- Angela Vitale
"There was no consultation with the parish because there wasn't anything to consult people about," he stressed.
Carroll said the parish approached the archdiocese with its parking concern expecting it to authorize the creation of a second parish for Millwoods. It didn't happen.
"The diocese said 'no,' there will only be one church in the area. . . . The diocese said there is no means of having two parishes because of the lack of priests."
In light of the parking problem, the age and size of the physical plant and the impossibility of creating a second parish, the archdiocese suggested it was time to build a much larger facility away from the present location, noted parish council chair Stephen Dufresne.
But parishioner Armando Lirag said parishioners should have been consulted because they will have to pay for a new church. "This was not really presented well to the people," he lamented.
"Now that we are nearing paying off the mortgage, they decided we should move. Are we back to zero, are we going to pay another mortgage. Does it make any sense?"
Angela Vitale said she was "very surprised and shocked" when the parish council announced the building of a new church. "There was definitely an aura of exclusion and an injustice done to us that things were not out in the open.
"Whether it was the decision of the archdiocese, or whether it was the decision of the powers that be at St. Theresa's, we were excluded from that. Decisions were made in secret without the average parishioner having an input."
She said if the parish council had called an open meeting "people could have brainstormed" and perhaps found a parking solution. "I don't feel that they have looked at all the options."
Dufresne said the parking situation is more complicated than it seems. "Parking is a critical issue," he said, noting that Grant MacEwan College, which has been providing parking for years, is expanding to the point that all parking will be restricted. "So we are basically going to be limited to the parking spots that we have available on our property."
As for the church building itself, Dufresne said the facility was designed to serve a much smaller congregation. "We are quite a large parish now: we have close to 5,000 families and the physical plant is just not capable of serving that many families."
Carroll and Dufresne said they haven't received much negative feedback from parishioners. "Some people are upset about this and they would like there to be two parishes, but for the most part people have been very cooperative and willing to be involved in this process," Carroll said.
"Some people were upset," admitted Dufresne. "The idea of change does that to some people but a lot of people I talked to and that other people talked to were quite encouraged by the fact that we are moving forward in this direction."
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