Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 5, 2009
Annunciation embraces an international family
Organizers designed a week to celebrate the church's 50th anniversary to include everyone
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Parishioners at Annunciation Parish marked the 50th anniversary of their parish with style.
Rather than just holding the traditional anniversary party, they turned the occasion into a four-day celebration with educational and spiritual activities for everyone.
"Our intention is to renew our relationship with God and to deepen our understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ, as a community and as a family," said Father Andrew Bogdanowicz, the pastor for the past three years.
Festivities began Sept. 23 with a women's reflection followed by a youth reflection the next day and a men's reflection on the third day. Each event was followed by an evening Mass.
EVERY FAMILY MEMBER
"We tried to include all members of our family because this is the 50th anniversary of the church community," explained Charlotte DeRudder, co-chair of the 50th anniversary committee. "It's not just the building that has been here for 50 years but it's the people of the building - the community - that makes it so special."
Speaking to about 100 women at the women's reflection event, Father Marc Cramer of Wetaskiwin praised them for their vision and their willingness to look at the world and change it.
He said that thanks to courageous women, today it is no longer acceptable to beat a woman.
Cramer said God created women and men differently but equal in dignity. "God loves us, he cares for us, he values us and our vocation is to love and give love in return."
The youth reflection included a pizza lunch and a discussion on youth issues with the goal of getting young people in the parish more involved.
Oblate Father Michael Dechant and Doug Kramer, both members of the Oblate Youth Ministry team, led the two-hour session.
"The idea behind this - youth day - was to give young people an opportunity to share where they fit in and don't fit in in this community," explained Dechant. "We are also here to give them a voice so they know they are being heard. Our message is that they have a place (in the Church) as teenagers."
Anonymous letters written by the 42 young participants will be given to the pastor, school chaplains and the religion department of Edmonton Catholic Schools.
On Sept. 25, in conjunction with men's day, there was all-day adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as well as Reconciliation and a blessing of all the parish children.
Following Mass, there was entertainment by the Choral Aires singing the most popular songs of the past 50 years.
The 50th anniversary celebration concluded Sept. 26 with a Mass with Archbishop Richard Smith followed by a banquet at St. Francis Xavier High School.
Annunciation, which has grown from 200 to more than 700 families in the past five decades, unofficially began in the fall of 1958 when Oblate Fathers Brendan Megannety and Joseph McNeil took up residence in the Jasper Place area to minister to the young community's spiritual needs.
The first Mass was celebrated on April 12, 1959 at St. Francis Xavier High School and Megannety was appointed temporary pastor of the new parish, known then as St. Francis Xavier Parish.
In August of that year, the Edmonton Archdiocese agreed that the Oblates of St. Peter's Province would administer the parish and in September appointed Father Myles Power as its first pastor.
By 1960, plans were underway to raise funds to build a church and rectory. By September, the parish had raised more than $87,000 in pledges.
As his last official act in 1961, Power requested Archbishop Anthony Jordan to change the parish name. The name Annunciation was chosen and used for the first time on May 12, 1963.
Oblate Father James Carroll became pastor in 1961 and continued the work of building a church and construction began in early 1962 with architect George Jellinek.
On May 19, 1963, Jordan blessed the new 730-seat Annunciation Church and rectory, built at a cost of $319,571, including furnishings.
Over the years, the church has undergone several major renovations. In 1990 the parish raised more than $700,000 and changed the main entry, made the washrooms wheelchair accessible, moved the altar and replaced flooring, lighting, sound system and ceiling tile.
According to longtime parishioner Nick Hertz, who spoke at the banquet, in the past 50 years Annunciation has had 15 resident pastors and 21 assistant pastors and brothers. During that same time, the parish has celebrated 5,532 Baptisms, 3,635 Confirmations and 1,745 marriages.
Bogdanowicz likes what he sees at Annunciation, which he describes as an "international multicultural community" with members from Asia, Africa and Europe.
"I find this parish very vital and very well organized, with many beautiful people who are involved in the Church," he said in an interview.
"I think this parish tries to imitate the beautiful example that the Blessed Mother set up for us, especially when she uttered her 'yes' at the moment of Annunciation. Our Lady of Annunciation is indeed the cause of our joy and the reason for this festivity."
MULTITUDE OF MINISTRIES
At Annunciation Church, 9420-163 St., the faithful are involved in countless ministries, including sacramental ministries, liturgical ministries, music ministry and outreach ministries such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which operates a parish food bank.
There are also many active groups such as a youth group and Legion of Mary and Catholic organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women's League, which has 166 active members.
"There is a real sense of family here," said Flo Reduka, an Annunciation parishioner since 1961 and current CWL president. "We pray for each other and when we learn somebody is in trouble everybody reaches out."
Alyssa Marielle Aco, a member of Annunciation Parish for more than a year now, likes that sense of family.
"There is such a wonderful atmosphere in this parish," the 15-year-old said.
"Like, the priest is really friendly and the gospels and the homilies are really interactive and I know almost everybody here."
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