Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 11, 2002
The little parish that could
Ste. Anne parish celebrates 50 years, yet it has no church
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"Parishioners here are very fraternal, very patient, very God like."
- Yvon Mahe
The celebration continued afterwards with a banquet for 300 people at Best Western Westwood Inn Hotel.
Despite not having its own building, Ste. Anne is active, the current parish administrator said. "We have many committees and many people involved. Like for the Mass today, there are well over 100 people that played a role in the celebration."
In addition to a parish council, Ste. Anne has all kinds of committees, including a liturgical committee, a sacramental committee, a committee for justice and development, a youth group and a committee that ministers to the sick.
Bilodeau, the Sunday priest for the past eight years, likes the environment at Ste. Anne Parish. "What I find extraordinary is that there seems to be no cliques or ill feelings between people," he said after the Mass. "I've never heard somebody criticizing somebody else in so many years. I think that's exceptional."
Bilodeau also described parishioners as involved in parish life and "extremely generous with their time and their money." Gagnon, the former administrator, also has good things to say about the French parishioners. "They are very committed to the faith and they are always joyful, always happy," she noted.
Mahe described his parish as welcoming and non-judgmental. "Parishioners here are very fraternal, very patient, very God like," he said. "They take people as they come, no matter where they come home or where they come from. People are all welcomed the way they are."
The majority of the parishioners are young, white, French Canadian couples with small children. But with the arrival in the past few years of many immigrant families from Congo, Zaire and other African countries, that composition is slowly beginning to change. And, said Mahe, the parish is adapting accordingly. "We are opening ourselves more and more to new ways of integrating immigrant families through the expression of their own culture."
"This is a growing parish," Bilodeau said, noting that since his arrival in 1994, the parish has grown by 50 families to a total of 185 registered families.
Ste. Anne traces its origins to 1952, when Archbishop John MacDonald granted permission for the parish to build a church at 102nd Avenue and 153rd Street for francophone families living in west Edmonton.
When the fire destroyed their church in November 1966, the community, at the suggestion of the archbishop, began to lease the chapel of the Grey Nuns as a temporary arrangement.
"And we are still here 35 years later," laughed Sister Gagnon. And the arrangement could last many more years, she said, because it's convenient for the Grey Nuns too.
"Having a Mass in French every Sunday is a blessing for the sisters because most of them speak French," she noted. "It brings new life to the sisters. They like to have these joyful people around."
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