ANOINTING THE ALTAR — Archbishop Richard Gagnon anoints the altar at St. Gianna Beretta Molla Church with the oil of chrism. (Amenta photo)

St. Gianna Church dedicated

By James Buchok

WINNIPEG — The pastor of the newest church in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg says he and his congregation may feel like “we’re on top of the mountain, but we’re only beginning.”

Rev. Darrin Gurr, speaking at the dedication of St. Gianna Beretta Molla Church in Southwest Winnipeg Sept. 7, asked the entire assembly to stand and be acknowledged for their participation in the 10-year journey.

“As we found our way we began to understand the vision of God and we became the vision of God,” Gurr said. “The world was changed because each of us was changed individually and together. The greatest sign of God’s presence in the world is the Christian community, being committed to the purpose and passion of Jesus.”

He said the first new parish established in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg since 1979 “is a wonderful gift for many generations to come. Thank you for being a part of something great.”

In his homily, Archbishop Richard Gagnon said the new place of worship “is a sign of our faith. May the Word of God always be heard in this place.

“The Lord was laying the foundation for a spiritual temple at the very beginning of your spiritual ministry,” Gagnon said. “You have a great modern patroness. St. Gianna teaches us about the importance of family and unconditional love for others.”

The parish began as the Roman Catholic Community of Whyte Ridge, Linden Ridge and Linden Woods and celebrated its first Sunday liturgy with 90 registered families in September 2004 at the nearby Winnipeg Technical College. On its first anniversary it was named for St. Gianna. Masses continued at the college while the community, which has grown to 350 families, worked toward the new church building.

The 500-seat church, the first in North America to bear the name of St. Gianna, includes the archdiocese’s first perpetual adoration chapel, available for adoration of the eucharist at any time of day or night, and inaugurated that day as the Chapel of the Divine Mercy.

The church’s lower lever houses the Living Waters Columbarium containing 2,000 niches, each a cubic foot, to house two urns for the repose of the cremated remains of loved ones. The columbarium will be dedicated Sept. 28. A second phase of construction will double the number of spaces for urns.

The baptismal font has a glass floor bringing light into the columbarium below and connecting the two sacred structures.

A lock of Gianna’s hair, contained in the altar stone, served as the first-class relic placed in the church’s altar.

Gianna Beretta Molla (1922 - 1962) was an Italian pediatrician and a devout Catholic wife and mother who, while pregnant with her fourth child, refused an abortion despite warnings that continuing with the pregnancy could result in her death. The child was born on Holy Saturday and Gianna died a week later.

The miracle recognized in order for canonization involved a pregnant woman who was told by doctors due to rare circumstances there was no chance for her child’s survival. She prayed to Gianna Molla asking for her intercession, and was able to deliver a healthy baby.

St. Gianna was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2004. Her husband was present at the canonization ceremony, the first time in the history of the church that a husband has witnessed his wife’s canonization. St. Gianna is a patron saint for mothers, physicians and unborn children.

St. John Paul II and St. Gianna have been named patron saints for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015.

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