WINNIPEG — The inauguration of the Jubilee Year celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg (1915-2015) began with solemn vespers Dec. 4 at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
“The century of faith that we celebrate this year was lived and continues to be lived by real people within the context of an incredible period of history,” said Archbishop Richard Gagnon. “Is it any wonder that so many are amazed that our church is still present and continues to live in a spirit of renewal and even youthfulness.”
On Dec. 4, 1915, Pope Benedict XV announced that the Archdiocese of Winnipeg was to be formed out of part of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface. The first archbishop of Winnipeg, Alfred Arthur Sinnott, was installed Dec. 24, 1916.
Gagnon related how Sinnott, at his installation as archbishop, told the people of the archdiocese, “Your name and your fame have long since gone abroad beyond the limits of Manitoba, and people in other provinces have spoken of you in terms which I conceive to be the highest form of commendation. They have spoken of you as Catholics whose fidelity had been tested and had not failed, whose practice, carrying with it the element of sacrifice, contained a promise and a hope for great achievement. Your name and fame have gone even beyond the broad Atlantic. And Rome, the mother and mistress of all the churches, has seen fit to recognize and reward your fidelity by erecting a new cathedra in your midst, to be your crown and glory, not for a day but for generations yet unborn.”
With a year-long theme of Proclaiming Christ Always, the jubilee celebrations have seen the creation of a centennial prayer by Msgr. Ward Jamieson, and a commemorative logo by Rev. Patrick Neufeld that is featured on banners that will fly at each church in the archdiocese throughout the year. There will also be an event to honour religious congregations, and a conference at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba Oct. 22 - 24, 2015 which will explore the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Winnipeg at 100: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
A eucharistic hymn is being composed by Bernadette Gasslein and Rev. Geoffrey Angeles for the biggest event of the year: liturgy on May 24, Pentecost Sunday, at the MTS Centre arena in downtown Winnipeg. All the confirmations throughout the archdiocese will be celebrated at this liturgy and the parishes, religious communities, schools, institutions and charitable apostolates are all invited to be part of the pre-liturgical procession. The Centennial Year will be concluded on December 4, 2015, at a special liturgy in St. Mary’s Cathedral.
‘’We cannot help but bring to mind the living history of faith of the People of God in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg since the beginning,” Gagnon said. “We think of the many religious, clergy and laity who have lived their faith in a truly missionary way.
“We look back at the lived faith of the People of God and the many works of faith which honour God and neighbour. Virtually thousands upon thousands of believers, and in all of this we see the sign of the Holy Spirit who is with the Body of Christ until the end of time. We see also that each generation must make the Gospel its own, that the ship of faith must be launched anew in each generation, and that is what we do in a unique way in celebrating our Centennial Jubilee.”
Gagnon said the centennial year should be lived “with thanksgiving, faith and purpose. For despite the uncertainties of modern life, we can attest with those elder brothers and sisters in the faith during the time of Isaiah, that ‘The Lord is our Father; that we are the clay and he is the potter; we are truly the work of his hands.’ ”
“We want to be a people proclaiming Christ always!”
The Archdiocese of Winnipeg covers 116,400 square miles, west from the Red River and Lake Winnipeg to Saskatchewan, north to Barrows, Man., and south to the U.S. Border, serving 150,000 Catholics in six deaneries containing 67 parishes, 22 missions and 10 reduced service churches. There are currently 65 diocesan priests, including 19 retired, 15 religious priests, 106 sisters, 20 deacons, four seminarians and one brother.