Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 5, 2005
City's Sudanese call St. Clare Church their home parish
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
A growing number of Sudanese Catholics in Edmonton are calling St. Clare's Church their home parish.
Having fled more than 20 years of civil war strife in their homeland, more than 100 men, women and children from Sudan now gather every Sunday at 1 p.m. for Mass.
"The archbishop (Thomas Collins) has provided that space for us to pray," said Dominic Garang, president of the local branch of Sudcan Relief and Development Services.
"Canada is a safe country. It is not like anything we feel in Sudan where people drop from the Church into prison. That is not here. I have no complaint."
People in Sudan are very spiritual, Garang said. Attending church is an important custom for them to maintain, whether in Sudan or abroad.
A local group approached the archbishop requesting a place for worship. He chose St. Clare's and a special Mass was arranged with Father Joe Leszczynski, parish pastor.
"The first Mass was about four months ago," Leszczynski said.
"At first, they were very shy, but last Sunday we invited them to join our regular 10 a.m. service. They dressed in traditional clothing and sang songs in their native language. They clapped their hands while they sang. It was very lively.
Reading in Arabic
"The second reading was done in Arabic. Everyone loved having them there."
Leszczynski said many more would participate but only a few have vehicles to bring others from further locations in the city.
"They want to build their community in the Catholic spirit. They are organizing themselves. Those who have vehicles make the sacrifice to bring their own families early enough so they can leave to bring others," he said.
Caiaphas Philip is a volunteer with SRDS. He moved to Edmonton four years ago.
"Many have moved here because of jobs," he said. "We moved here as a result of the civil war back home."
Leszczynski said he will happily attend to all of their spiritual needs.
"It's a great joy and pleasure to have them with us," he said. "They want to share their culture and traditions in a way they are used to in their own country."