Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 17, 2002
Creating a Catholic Community
Closing parishes opens other doors for parishoners
By RENATO GANDIA
"Father Mark is a visionary. He sees the long term instead of just where we are now."
- Donna Gamache
Monty Sommer, past PPC chair, agreed. He said there are still some people in the region who are hurting from their experiences. However, he believes "the spirit in the whole region is fairly high."
They had their first annual general assembly last year. This year, because they now have a regional name, they also celebrated their regional feast day, May 25-26. And on June 9 they had the second annual general assembly.
During their feast day, the whole region paid attention to the history of their particular churches and communities at their respective Eucharistic centres.
Opening the cornerstone of Christ the King Church and marking the retirement of its secretary Linda Dean who served the parish for 39 years, were among the highlights in the Stettler Eucharistic Centre.
McGee said they decided to take time acknowledging Dean's role as a transitional figure.
"She gave many years of service to her particular community. And in the transformation of parishes, she stayed on for about six years through the clustering of parishes in that region," McGee said.
Opening up the cornerstone with the time capsule imbedded on it was about the past. But the ritual involved is also relevant to moving on to another phase of their history as a community.
Father Ernest Battle, who was pastor of the parish for over 30 years, put the time capsule there. Dean had worked with him all that time.
They also acknowledged certain parishioners who had been there for 50 years and gave them a special solemn blessing because they are the people who had been welcoming newcomers.
In Consort, they gathered at the site of the new church. Part of their transition is to look forward to building a new Eucharistic centre for the region.
Archives for each centre were set up. They also produced a parish handbook that will standardize the policies across the whole region.
They also created a regional calendar to harmonize their activities and help in pastoral planning for the year ahead.
Donna Gamache, who had been going to the parish for about six years, said, "I never really felt the impact of these changes because I have not been here long enough."
However, she is convinced that having a regional name really helped the transition. "It gets away from a territorial baggage that was there," Gamache said.
"A good leader to guide the people, somebody who can look at the broader picture really made a lot of difference. Father Mark is a visionary. He sees the long term instead of just where we are now. His goals, and the plan to achieve those goals, are very clear.
"I would like to see the lay people taking on a more active role in ministry and in supporting our priest."
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