Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 27, 2005
Sacred Heart marks 25th anniversary
Gibbons parishioners welcome newcomers
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Seventy-five years old and still beating strong, Sacred Heart Parish in Gibbons celebrated a rare double treat June 19 when it also marked the 25th anniversary of the new church.
About 150 people gathered for a Mass with Father Duncan MacDonnell that featured the baptism of two-month-old Ben Roe. A lively picnic followed where young and old could be found enjoying dozens of sizzling hotdogs and hamburgers.
Mona Konsorado, 88, is well known in Gibbons. She used to run the general store with her late husband. She has attended Mass in town for more than 60 years.
"The celebration on Sunday was beautiful. There was a lovely Mass and gathering afterwards," she said. "In 1944, we had a little parish that was run mostly by the people surrounding the town. The church had a little coal heater and sometimes there was so much smoke we could not have Mass. But then they changed it to natural gas. Eventually we had more advancements. The parish became stronger with more members."
Konsorado used to read during Mass, but she is remembered more for cleaning the parish and taking care of the priests.
"My husband and I got on our hands and knees and scrubbed the church. There were no vacuum cleaners back then. We took care of the vestments. Our son was an altar boy and we took care of that. It was a communion.
"There is still the family, but the way it is set up with Mass only twice a month, we don't see our neighbours like we did."
Konsorado recalls the late Msgr. Bill Irwin for his willingness to help anyone, and for his sense of humour. "He was our priest and he always had a joke which kept the people together," she said.
The driving force
It was Irwin's drive that George Granger attributes to getting the church built in 1980. A past parish council chair, Granger was part of the building committee getting the new church off the ground. Despite recent health concerns, Granger still remains a devoted Eucharistic minister.
"Without Msgr. Irwin, I don't think we would have gotten the new church built. He was our pastor and he was instrumental with his fortitude presenting the idea to the community and to Archbishop MacNeil," Granger said.
The church was built because the old one, constructed in 1930, was getting overcrowded and needed significant repairs. Granger said the building committee determined that repairs would cost nearly the same amount as a new church.
"A new church has provided the parishioners with a new outlook and a new vigour," Granger said. "We have a good group of young people who are active. But our numbers haven't increased very much in 10 years because we do not have a resident priest. Father MacDonnell comes from Fort Saskatchewan every two weeks."
90 active families
There are about 90 active families. Granger said the parish has several active ministries, including youth. About 10 children attend children's liturgy on Sunday.
"They love it. This is actually one area of our parish that is growing."
Granger, with his wife Hughena, lost their 17-year-old daughter in an automobile accident in 1989. He said the prayers and support of parishioners was tremendous.
"We got through it and I attest this to their prayers. They very much consoled us when our daughter died," he said.
"And now we have celebrated the 25th anniversary of the church and the 75th year of our Gibbons parish. And with the baptism, it shows the amount of renewal that is going on."
Dawn Cope helps to keep the parish alive with her work in the liturgy and music ministries. She said she feels compelled to do so.
"This year, we have focused our stewardship on hospitality. We have greeters and we have coffee and goodies after church. If we have new parishioners, we welcome them and try to involve them."
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