Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 21, 2002
St. Paul closes its doors
Parishioners weep as east side parish celebrates final Mass
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
As in all parishes that close, the final Mass at St. Paul's Church was an emotional one.
People were unusually attentive, said one attendee. And towards the end, almost everyone quietly wept.
More than 200 people attended the last 3 p.m. Mass presided by Father Patrick Baska, pastor, with five other priests of the archdiocese concelebrating, Oct. 13.
Although the celebration was like an ordinary Sunday Mass, the people were introduced to the unfamiliar - saying goodbye and thanking God for the life of the 40-year-old parish in Edmonton's east end.
Following the Prayer after Communion, Baska went around the church, stopped at various points and led the people in prayers of thanksgiving.
The first stop was at the baptismal font, where they thanked God for those who were baptized in the church.
They stopped in front of the confessional and thanked God for the gift of reconciliation and spiritual comfort.
At the foot of the image of St. Paul, they gave thanks for his guidance as patron, followed by a stop at the Way of the Cross.
The final two stops were at the pulpit, where the Word of God was proclaimed and at the altar where the bread and wine were consecrated.
In his homily, Baska told the people the parish has been a blessing to the local Church of Edmonton, but that transformation is inevitable.
We move on "bearing in mind that transformation includes growing pains," the priest said.
"The Church, as a body of Christ, is a living reality in the making . . . constantly changing," he said.
the Prayer of the Faithful, they prayed for those who were baptized, confirmed, married and whose funeral was celebrated in this church. They also prayed for all the priests and other lay ministers who served in this parish.
At the end of the Mass, the chalice used in the church for 40 years was entrusted to Wil Monchuk, who represented the congregation, while Baska emptied the Blessed Sacrament.
Monchuk brought the chalice to St. Alphonsus Church to be used in memory of this parish community.
The people were also invited to kiss the stone at the altar table that holds a relic of a saint placed in the altar in 1962.
Irene (Koziol) Moxley of the CWL was one of the original members of this parish. She was sad but grateful the church has been a significant part of her life.
"This place is full of personal memories. My children were (baptized) here and my husband was buried here. My second marriage took place here," she told the WCR.
"There's a lot of emotion today. But we're also a people of faith and hope and we have to prove that by our mettle. It takes courage inside you to carry on and find a new home in whatever parish people are comfortable in."
Moxley is concerned about the elderly in the parish. "It will be difficult for them. So we have to do some work - K of C and CWL. We need to seek out those who truly need a ride and bring them to church."
As a CWL member, she will continue ministering to the elderly people and shut-ins.
"It's not over. The church is closing, but the faith community will live on. We are really a simple parish, but with lots of people with deep faith."
K of C member Wil Monchuk has been a parishioner for 25 years. For him, the closing of the church is "like losing a good friend."
He has travelled across Canada from coast to coast and in the North, but for him and his family St. Paul is home.
Ryan Scheelar, 15, has been an altar server for six years with his older brother David. "I feel sad because I was baptized in this church. There'll be no Masses that I can serve in the same way that I used to. It feels like it's all coming to an end." Eighteen-year-old David Scheelar has been serving since he was eight.
"(This parish) is like a family because I've known these people most of my life. This is the longest establishment that I've been connected with. You move from school to school, from house to house, but you always come back to your home parish.
"It's sad when something like this happens, especially to a tightly knit community like St. Paul."
- Annette Feist
"Now it's gone. It feels like one important part of my family is taken away."
Scheelar's family has been attending St. Paul's for 34 years and he hopes to find a new community. "But not exactly like this one."
Annette Feist, 24, music minister, is new to the parish. She only came in February, but she felt the sadness for the people who had been here for a long time. "There's always something bittersweet when a parish closes. We never really think of Church as closing. We think of Church as opening and growing.
"I can't help to think that it's sad when something like this happens, especially to a tightly knit community like St. Paul. They will be like scattered seeds in the wind."
When Adele Prather came to the Mass that day she was expecting it to be a usual Sunday Mass, although she knew that will be the last Mass for this parish as an individual community.
Towards the end of the celebration, the personal things that happened to her life in this parish hit her. Two of her four children were baptized at this church. Two of her four children were married in the church. And two grandchildren were baptized there.
There are also a lot of answered prayers in that church.
"But it's time to say goodbye," she sadly said. "It's the people that I've met in this parish who are the most memorable. The priests come and go. But it's the people that I will always remember."