Fr Lee Kenyon reports on St. John’s Feast of Dedication

On his Blog, Father Kenyon writes the following about the Feast of Dedication of St. John the Evangelist Church, Calgary, Alberta, Canada:

Yesterday we observed, on the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, our Feast of Dedication, which came 103 years after the Dedication of St John’s on the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity 1911.

St John the Evangelist Calgary - streetview - kleinerWe were blessed with 176 souls at Mass (St John’s can seat 200 comfortably) and 139 at the wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner that followed (which was a relief given that we had seating for only 144!) and some 40 or so of these were children. Whilst we usually gather for a light lunch after the Parish Mass each week, yesterday was certainly different because it was, specifically, an opportunity for the parish to gather together to give thanks for the particular gift of St John’s as a parish church, to reflect on our future together, and to be encouraged in the necessary work of our Capital Campaign, ahead of our Commitment Sunday on 23rd November, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

To that end the homily was preached by the Assistant Priest, Fr Gibson, and we had four excellent speakers — all parishioners — address the parish, prior to lunch, on the question of what St John’s means to them.

One was a university student, recently moved to Lethbridge, who had been at St John’s all his life, and had been through the trials and tribulations of St John’s latter days as a parish of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary, and had entered the Catholic Church in 2011 in the first wave. He spoke in very passionate terms about the uniqueness of our community, and of our mission as part of the Ordinariate which, for him, could be seen much more clearly and sharply given the separation from the community he is now experiencing.

Another, a local GP, has been at St John’s for 25 years. She had been born into a Lutheran family, but had moved away from any active Christian faith until the time that she discovered St John’s and the richness of the Anglo-Catholic tradition. Again, she was received into the Catholic Church in the first wave in 2011. She spoke of the particularity of the community within the specific church building and how, over the years, beauty and orthodoxy, preached, taught and lived out within its walls, had led her into the fullness of the Catholic faith.

The third speaker, a Catholic since birth, is what I like to call the “foundress” of St John’s Choir School. She and her family have been at St John’s for about two years and in that time have contributed to the fruition of the vision of the Ordinariate in that they, like so many of the Latin Rite Catholics who have come to call St John’s their home, have shared their gifts with us. They demonstrate, by their lives and their active participation in the life of our community, that the Ordinariate isn’t simply a one-way street to enable former Anglicans to offload their treasures on an unwitting post-Vatican II Catholic Church. Rather, this great vision of Pope Benedict’s is about a mutual exchange of gifts and treasures, and that means people as much as it does things. The gift of Catholic education has been a particular blessing for St John’s and our third speaker shared the rich potential of this particular endeavour for the future growth and enrichment of our parochial life. She also lauded the combination of Mass and tea! Pure patrimony that.

Our final speaker, who had converted to Catholicism from a non-denominational Protestant background before he came to St John’s (and whose wife was baptised and confirmed within the Ordinariate at the Easter Vigil this year), has been at St John’s, with his family, since Palm Sunday 2013. (What a Sunday to join a parish! The Mass was three hours long, and it didn’t put them off!) He spoke of the quality of our Ordinariate liturgy and how it had engaged him, and he shared a wonderful sight he had one Sunday of the smoke of the incense pouring out of the church doors, into the open. That was, for him, a profound image of the scent of the Gospel being spread across the community and a symbol, as it were, of the mission to which we are all called. It was also appropriate, in a sense, because his son had accidentally set off the fire alarm (by pulling the lever) in the middle of my homily during the Parish Mass last year…(!)

Our speakers were drawn from diverse Christian backgrounds but have all come to find in St John’s that which has brought them together and has enabled them to live to the full their Catholic Christian faith. It was a humbling experience to hear their personal stories, and a privilege for myself and my clerical colleagues to know that we serve, in Christ, dedicated people whose continuing journeys in the faith are rich and inspiring. It makes the desire to build our permanent home at St John the Evangelist, our 103 year-old church, now firmly rooted on the Rock that is Peter, all the more real and necessary.

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