Tuesday, October 14, 2008

100 Years of Franciscan Ministry in the West

A week ago last Friday I went to Edmonton to join the Franciscan friars in their celebration of 100 years of ministry in Western Canada. I was warmly welcomed by the friars at the St. Francis Friary in Edmonton. As we prepared to go to the Gala Dinner we shared some hospitality at the Friary. Here with the friars are Bishop Gene Cooney, Bishop Emeritus of Nelson and myself.

On November 1, 1908 the first Franciscan contact was made when Fr. Arthur Rappard came to celebrate Mass in a lumber supplies bujilding. He was joined later by two others and the presence of the Franciscans in the West was established.

It all began of course in the year 1209 when Francesco Bernadone was received by Pope Innocent III who approved the Rule for Franciscan living. This officially established the Order of Friars Minor, known to us as the Franciscans.

The celebrations in Edmonton took place at a wonderful Gala Banquet attended by over 1000 people who warmly and clearly supported the work that the Franciscan Communities are doing in Western Canada. The evening was very capably and entertainingly directed by Allan H. Wachowich, Chief Justice and member of Queen's Bench of Alberta along with his son David Waachowich, Q.C.

Participating in the Transitus Liturgy preceeding the dinner were a number of Friars including the new bishop of the diocese of Nelson, BC, Bishop John Corriveau, a member of the Capucin branch of the Franciscan family.

An entertaining and pertinent talk was given by Justice Ed McCallum Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta. The evening came to a close after a presentation of the New Generation Franciscans made up of the eight Student Friars whose presence pointed the attention of all of us to the future and the continued work of the Franciscans and of the Church here in Western Canada.


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