REGINA — Mary Beth Mitchell and Beverley Maciag regaled reception attendees with stories of what it is was like when the Marian Centre first came to Regina 50 years ago. The occasion was the celebration of that anniversary Oct. 15, first with a morning mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral presided over by Archbishop Donald Bolen with a homily by Winnipeg Emeritus Archbishop James Weisgerber, followed by an afternoon reception at the centre located in the city’s core area.
“It was a lot of work to get open,” said Mitchell: “fifteen broken panes of glass, and we had to lay new floor tiles, but we couldn’t have done it without the help of really wonderful volunteers.”
Those volunteers and supporters showed up for the morning mass with many more visiting the centre at the afternoon reception. She said it was a real joy to be back and see everyone. “Coming back here I am just filled with glorious joy at the number of volunteers and the way the Marian Centre has been kept up.”
Maciag said they keep running into old friends. “These people have been volunteering forever, years and years and years, and it’s like their house, so beautiful is their generosity.”
Jack Scoeber is one of the original volunteers. “I love this place,” he said. “I love the people. I feel good here. I Like to serve those people and I feel good about the way those people are treated when they come here.”
The Madonna House Apostolate began in 1947 at Combermere, Ont., by Catherine Doherty and her husband, Eddie, but its roots go back to Friendship House, which Doherty in 1934 started in Toronto and expanded to New York, Chicago and other centres before moving to Combermere. From Friendship House to Madonna House, the focus was always on clothing and feeding the poor. It eventually became a lay apostolate, with its adherents committing themselves to God as celibate men and women. It now claims, according to its website, a membership of about 200, including men, women and priests around the world, with an additional 100 associate priests, bishops and deacons who serve in their home parishes.
Bolen had a special relationship with the Marian Centre before and after he became a priest. Besides volunteering, he spent a year at the group’s motherhouse in Combermere.
Weisgerber’s homily described a 50th anniversary as “a jubilee year” with particular importance in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. “It has been a great, great sign and a practical instrument of the church in Regina to reach out to those who have been left behind.”
At the end of the mass, Bolen came down from the sanctuary and gave a special blessing to the Marian Centre people and another to all the volunteers who were in attendance.