On Sunday June 4, a special celebration was held to honor the 110th Anniversary of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Nanton Alberta.
Construction of the church was completed on June 3, 1907. On this day Bishop Légal from St. Albert consecrated the new church and gave it the name of St. Cecilia, the patroness of church music and musicians. On this occasion we sang the last two verses of the hymn Pange Lingua in Latin as would have been heard in 1907. Certainly voices would have been raised in song; sung with joy to praise the Lord and to celebrate their new permanent place to worship.
A lovely potluck meal was enjoyed after Mass. Fr. Tim raised a glass and was joined by all to toast the 110th anniversary. A special part of the festivities was the recognition of nine longtime parishioners present that have attended this church for more than 50 years. A joyous Happy Birthday was sung and delicious cake was served.
Conversations shared this day are the reminiscing of years gone by; speaking of the present and looking forward to the future. In these busy, modern times, St. Cecilia’s is our blessing. Its longevity is visible; its architectural and spiritual character being preserved.
Over its 110-year history St. Cecilia’s has been served faithfully. Fr. Hughes from Prince Edward Island served the church and people from 1918-1933 celebrating Mass every two weeks. Fr. Rouleau, the first ordained priest from the Calgary Diocese came from 1933-1936. From 1936-1941 Rev. A. Tennant served both Stavely and Nanton. During the following six years, Fr. Murphy C.SS.R and Fr. Coyne C.SS.R, (Redemptorists) served this area and the Claresholm Air Force Base. After May 1947 the diocesan priests served. They included Fr. Pat O’Byrne, Fr. Frank Mackay and Fr. Mongeau. Fr. T. O’Riordan attended until 1977, when he was replaced by Fr. Van Tigham. From 1977 until 1998 Fr. Greg Coupal, Fr. T. Connelly, Fr. Dominic Hung Nguyen and Fr. Jim de Los Angeles were serving. For one year the church had no priest. Fr. Benedicto Marino was here from 1999-2006. Fr. Malcolm D’Souza arrived and stayed until 2010. Fr. Angelo D’Costa was present from 2010-2012. His replacement was Fr. Tim Boyle who resides in Claresholm. Currently, he oversees three parishes: Claresholm, Champion and Nanton.
An addition of a hall with seating for 100 people was completed in 1984. Now a modern, well-equipped kitchen adds many more opportunities for using our church hall. In the early 1990s, new parishioners, Ed and Francis Southgate presented the idea of having “toast and coffee” after Sunday Mass. This ritual still continues. Many parishioners linger on Sundays to share moments of togetherness, speak of current and past events, be supportive of one another and share laughter and discussions.
Skip ahead to 2017. Our church has been generously enriched throughout the years with the dedicated services of long-standing parishioners. Today, we are blessed with the arrival of new parishioners who add refreshment to St. Cecilia’s parish community. We remain very thankful to the pioneers of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church who not only built the building, but also built the faith.
St. Cecilia’s • A Poem by Lydia Dillman
This little church for you and me
How blessed we are to practice our faith in thee
One hundred and ten years, a testament to time; this little church steadfast
The visionary pioneers from yesteryear built it to withstand and last
St. Cecilia’s devoted parishioners provide time and loving care
To ensure that this little church will always be here for prayer
Envision the last one hundred years and ten; take time to wonder
The celebrations, the challenges, and the changes; ours to ponder
Present day we celebrate this little church; its past and present
Personally each of us reflect; what St. Cecilia’s to us has meant
St. Cecilia’s; the gift of time and endurance we celebrate today
Let us be forever thankful; to God we give our praise
The word that most comes to mind, following the One Rock Festival of Faith, is joy. This makes sense, when you look at the weekend. What is there not to be joyful about? The musicians were phenomenal, the speakers were thought-provoking, and the Masses were breathtaking. But the joy that was felt at One Rock comes from a deeper place, from more than just an experience, or an event, or a talk. The joy that was palpable among attendees at One Rock can only come from One – from God.
Similar to Mary, during the One Rock weekend, I realized how much God has done for me, how truly blessed I am and how tremendous His love is for me. I think that many people realized the same for themselves. We had the opportunity to spend an entire weekend praising God, attending Mass, hearing about conversion experiences, learning about the love that God has for each of us. What an incredibly blessed way to spend a weekend!
Someone asked how we judge the success of an event such as One Rock. My mind instantly thought about the number of tickets sold, the number of people in attendance, number of volunteers… By these criteria, One Rock was truly a success! But pondering this later, I came to realize that the success of a large event like this one is to be judged by something else, something greater. Was there joy? Did even one person come to experience the love of God in their lives, and did that in turn lead them to the joy of the Gospel, the joy that we, as Catholics, live and seek? If one person had an experience of their faith that led them closer to Christ, the “One Rock” of our lives, then the festival was an overwhelming success.
If joy is an accurate criterion, then the joy felt throughout the Festival of Faith speaks for itself. There were so many smiles and so much laughter and fun during the music events. You could have heard a pin drop during the talks as everyone listened intently. The beautiful Adoration Chapel always had people inside, visiting with Our Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament. The beautiful play, in celebration of Our Lady of Fatima, left many people in awe. The many acts, performances, and activities throughout One Rock are too many to mention, but each one played a part in making One Rock an unforgettable, and truly joyous, experience.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name.” The Mighty One indeed did a many great things at One Rock. Only by trusting in Him did we host this festival, and only with His grace could the immense joy be felt throughout the weekend. What is left now is for us to praise God, and be grateful for the many gifts he bestowed upon us.
It seems that our schedules become slightly more hectic than usual at this time of the year. There are so many new beginnings, and this might intensify stress levels in the family. A new school year with new teachers is coming up; there are new job challenges; and new activities that may bring about feelings of fear and apprehension. Here’s a suggestion: Place a note inside a lunch box, or tape it on a mirror, that reads I Love You – and don’t forget, so does God; or Don’t forget to smile today and praise God. Such gestures contribute a great deal to making somebody’s day a little brighter.
A little humour helps too. Several years ago somebody gifted me with a car visor clip made out of pewter that portrays an angel with a banner in his hands that reads, Don’t drive faster than your Guardian Angel can fly. It always puts a smile on my face when I look at this little angel, even if I don’t feel like smiling. The sentence on the banner has more than one meaning. It reminds me to slow down when I feel like driving faster than I should; and it also reminds me to slow down my usual pace of activity every so often. Sometimes it prompts me to pray. It’s amazing what a little symbol of faith in your car can do for you!
It is important that a family includes fun activities at times like this. Here are some more suggestions:
- Bagged Lunch in the Park: Make use of remaining sunny days to arrange a Sunday afternoon family lunch in the park. Each person can plan and pack a lunch for another member of the family. The younger children will need some assistance with this. Each lunch bag should include a brief Bible passage that will be shared at lunch time. Before eating, everyone will be asked to read their Bible quotation and then share their thoughts. Bring along a ball, baseball gloves, a badminton set, or whatever else you wish to include physical activities after lunch.
- School Book Covering: Spend an evening together covering school books and invite everyone to participate. Everyone plays a role, whether cutting the paper, measuring the books and folding the paper accordingly, and picking up the left over paper to put in the recycling bin or to create more designs for the covers. You may talk about the subject of the books as you put the covers on them. You may conclude the book covering session by asking for God’s blessing praying: Almighty God, source of all knowledge, insight and wisdom, we ask you to bless these books and all of us who use them, that through them we may come to a greater understanding and reverence of this world that You intrusted in us. May these tools of learning open our minds and hearts to understand the wonders of Your creation. This we ask through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
- Good News Bulletin Board: At your next family gathering add the buying of a “Good News Bulletin Board” on the agenda of things to be discussed. Explain that only good news can be displayed on this bulletin board. Involve the entire family in discussing what they would like to see displayed and how long it should remain there before it goes into the “Good News Archive,” a box or trunk that will house past Good News items. Make sure to notice what is on the board and compliment each other on the good news.
- Fly a Kite: Although you can buy a ready-made kite, it is still lots of fun to make your own. Here is what you will need: a 90 cm wooden dowel and a 120 cm wooden dowel. The longer dowel will be the spine of the kite and the shorter dowel the crosspiece. You will also need: plastic sheeting or recycled garbage bags; strong tape, such as packing or electrical tape; twine; kite string or fishing line. Get your supplies and gather your tools. Sketch your kite sail. Cut out your kite sail. Build your kite structure. Attach your line. Make a tail. Fly your kite!
My wish for you is that you will carry out these and other family fun activities in a relaxed and prayerful atmosphere. And always remember, “Don’t drive faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!”
Registration c. 298: §1. In the Church there are associations distinct from institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life; in these associations the Christian faithful, whether clerics, lay persons, or clerics and lay persons together, strive in a common endeavor to foster a more perfect life, to promote public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit. §2. The Christian faithful are to join especially those associations which competent ecclesiastical authority has erected, praised, or commended.