Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 4, 2004
Archdiocese plans new parishes
Burgeoning population prompts the planning of new parishes in the Edmonton area
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Just a few years after closing and merging a number of rural and urban parishes, the Edmonton Archdiocese is embarking on a plan to build several new parishes in the Edmonton area.
Archbishop Thomas Collins said the move, being dictated by population growth and shifts in the Edmonton area, is part of the archdiocese's "constant plan to look to the future."
"Edmonton is expanding enormously especially in the southern part of the city and so I think that in the next few years we are going to have to build several new parishes," he said in a recent interview.
"We always need to be looking at where the people are and ways in which we can serve them."
The plans might involve splitting up some of the mega-parishes in the outskirts of the city in order to create new ones.
Follow the population
"I think the key areas right now are the southwest and the southeast and then the east," Collins said. "The north will be probably next in line, but we have to look at where the population is going."
Plans for a new parish in the city's southeast, namely the Millwoods area, are the most advanced. The archdiocese has already bought a block of land at Mill Creek Meadows, 34th Street and 28A Avenue, to build a church for the proposed new parish.
"My home town of Guelph is about 90,000 to 100,000 people, roughly the size of Millwoods, and it has five parishes," Collins noted. "Millwoods has a lot of people and it only has one parish. We've got to have another."
The archdiocese might have to split the large St. Theresa's Parish, currently the only parish in Millwoods at 7508-29Ave., in order create a new parish.
But Collins said nothing will happen until a community that will take responsibility for the new parish is created in the eastern part of Millwoods. That job will fall on the priests of St. Theresa, who began celebrating Mass in school gyms in that area Sept. 26. Mass will be held 9:30 a.m. at Holy Family School and 11:30 a.m. at Father Michael Troy School.
"That will create the community that will start the new parish," Collins said.
To help them in that effort, Collins recently added a second associate priest to St. Theresa, Father Luis Moreno from Mexico.
Collins said creating new parishes in areas that have excessive population is the normal thing to do. "We are planning and looking at where we can put several other parishes in other places," he said.
"I certainly think we need several (new parishes) because the population of Edmonton is growing enormously. The population of the whole diocese is growing enormously. I would say we have about 350,000 Catholics in our diocese now. And it's just booming, I mean it's growing in numbers."
The plan might extend to other areas of the archdiocese as well. "The largest city (in the archdiocese) of course is Edmonton but we have Red Deer, Lloydminster, Sylvan Lake, Wainwright, Provost and all the other towns," the archbishop said. "We have to look at the whole thing. This means we are also trying to keep the ratio of priest to people to be that if you have a huge parish of 10,000-20,000 Catholics that you have at least a couple of priests to serve them."
The archdiocese must also care for distant communities with smaller populations, Collins noted. "But we have to be careful. As a new priest comes into the diocese, either through ordination or through coming from other countries, we have to (position him) where (he) can serve the people best."
No worry about priest supply
So where is the archdiocese going to get all the priests it needs to staff the new parishes?
"I don't have any concerns at all," Collins quickly replied. "The Lord will provide the priests. I think we can't get into an attitude where we will think we are not going to have the priests therefore we cutback the Church. What we do is we see what we need and we build it and then God will provide the priests if we respond to God's grace."
And he thinks the people of the archdiocese are responding "very wonderfully." Proof of that is that this past year the archdiocese doubled the number of its seminarians, he said.
Currently there are 18 men preparing for the priesthood for the Edmonton Archdiocese. Moreover, "several" priests from others countries are currently serving in the archdiocese.
"I think that as the needs are there, people will step forward," the archbishop said. "Actually we are looking ahead. Things are great. These are exciting times."