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Vespers close centennial year in Winnipeg

By James Buchok


WINNIPEG — The Jubilee Centennial Year of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg came to a close Dec. 4, in the first week of Advent as the new Catholic church year began.

“Both years speak of new beginnings,” Archbishop Richard Gagnon said. “During Advent we await the arrival of the Messiah. We acknowledge Jesus as the Christ and we open our hearts to him to draw closer to him in our daily lives.”

Gagnon made reference to the evening’s reading from 2 Peter 3:8-14, which speaks of Jesus’ second coming, “ ‘But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise.’ Those who started this archdiocese 100 years ago were faced with the same mystery. The Advent of 100 years ago held the same proclamation. Those here 100 years ago would not feel very much out of place. The only difference is the date and the circumstances in which we live today. Peter asked, ‘since all will be dissolved what kind of persons should we be?’ ”

“The celebration of the centennial is a continual celebration,” Gagnon said. “As it comes to an end we are challenged to launch this new ship of faith on new currents. This is our task and this is why I have called for an archdiocesan synod.”

In November the archbishop announced that the Archdiocese of Winnipeg would undertake the first synod in its history. The synod process will be undertaken over a two-year time frame beginning in the spring, and will determine future directions for the archdiocese.

“The past year has been successful as a centennial observance,” Gagnon said, as he provided a few recollections beginning with the Jubilee Year Indulgence in which the archbishop had invited the faithful to partake by visiting one of four designated churches in the archdiocese, including Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Church in Camperville, Man., 420 kms north of Winnipeg. The others were St. Augustine of Canterbury in Brandon, St.-Francois Xavier Church in St.-Francois Xavier and St. Mary’s Cathedral in Winnipeg. On Oct. 10 two busloads of pilgrims visited all four locations in one day. “And many others did so on their own,” Gagnon said, including what he described as “an amazing number” in rural Manitoba.

The archbishop said the Centennial Mass May 3 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, with 12,000 in attendance, “was a remarkable event of diversity and unity. The sacrament of confirmation (conferred on 800 candidates during the mass) brought emphasis to the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christians.”

The archbishop also recalled the evening of prayers in October honouring the communities of religious women and men who have served the archdiocese for the past 100 years, and the three-day academic symposium at St. Paul’s College examining the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, also held in October.

“And tonight we install our Centennial Icon,” Gagnon announced. The Centenary Icon of the Holy Family, created to commemorate the Jubilee Centennial of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, had toured throughout the archdiocese during the centennial year and was placed on permanent display at the cathedral that evening. “I am deeply grateful to the Knights of Columbus and the many local councils who transported the icon and cared it for it as it travelled,” the archbishop said.

“It is my hope this centennial year will always remind us of Christian family life in our church. We go to meet Christ as he is waiting for us at the very doorstep of our second 100 years.”

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