Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 22, 2008
Our Lady of the Angels steps up to help
Fort Sask. parish celebrates 100 years of lending a helping hand
By RAMON GONZALEZ
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Patricia Burchak and Michelle Prins display the new parish cookbook.
When Burchak lost her dad 14 years ago the parish was there for her. And every time she has had personal problems parishioners have been supportive.
“When I broke my legs two years ago, they came to visit me in hospital, they would bring me to church and some people even went to my home to walk my dog,” she recalled. “They even wanted to come and do my housework for me.”
Burchak’s husband Rick, a non-Catholic Christian, has also witnessed the welcoming spirit of Our Lady of the Angels.
“I find that here in the parish they are not judgmental,” Patricia said. “If your family is not fully Catholic it is not a problem. Priests and parishioners have accepted and respected my husband and they treat him like he was one of their own.”
“There is a real spirit of community here,” noted Ted Armstrong, a longtime parishioner and school trustee who wrote a 28-page history of the parish. “When you come here you meet people you want to meet — people you enjoy being with.”
Pallotine Father John Reddy, the parish pastor for the past four years, is happy to serve at Our Lady of the Angels.
“This is a beautiful parish filled with very committed people,” he said. “I’m very happy to be here; people are very open, involved, receptive and hospitable.”
Parish council chair Wendy Bell, a Catholic teacher, has a similar opinion. “This is a very active parish,” she noted. “People are always ready and willing to help out.”
She said parishioners volunteer as greeters, ushers, lectors, ministers of Communion and in ministries such as Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, sacramental preparation, youth, children’s liturgy and the children’s summer camp.
The parish also has active councils of the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League, which Bell said supports several local charities and even distributes Bibles to elementary students.
“This parish exudes energy and enthusiasm,” added Burchak, a CWL member who distributes Communion to the sick and the elderly. “We get our inspiration from people like Sister Ada Toner who at 90 is still running circles around us.”
Parishioners began the centennial celebrations May 17 with a Mass followed by an “old-tyme” picnic on the church grounds to mark the first Catholic Mass celebrated in Fort Saskatchewan.
On Sept. 13, the CWL marked the centennial with a social tea attended by close to 300 women — all of them dressed in costumes of days gone by.
Parishioners are looking forward to Sept. 27 and 28 when Archbishop Richard Smith will lead a series of centennial festivities with processions, Masses, banquets and brunches.
Welcome Home: Celebrating 100 Years of Faith, Love and Joy is the overall theme of the festivities.
In an effort to raise funds for the centennial projects — which also include a tree planting in October — a group of women led by Odette Leidl put together a 300-page cookbook with more than 1,700 recipes contributed by parishioners, pastors and former pastors.
More than 1,200 copies of the book — which includes recipes from Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil, Father Duncan MacDonnell and Premier Ed Stelmach — have been sold at $15 apiece.
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