Chiesa di San Clemente/Saint Clement Church

Chiesa di San Clemente/Saint Clement Church

 Our Lady of Grace Church officially opened on June 9, 1985. Back then our church community was the union of two Calgary parishes: St Clement’s and St Andrew’s.

St. Clement’s was formed in 1964 in the Calgary community of Belfast. With no building, the parish used two portable army huts that served as a temporary church until a new home could be built. A hillside piece of land, with a beautiful view of Calgary’s downtown, was acquired for the new St. Clement’s church. However the neighborhood grew more and more industrial. Active families in the parish began to diminish or attend newer churches in neighboring communities. The army huts remained, and the new St. Clement’s church was never built.

Chiesa di Sant'Andrea/Saint Andrew Church

Chiesa di Sant’Andrea/Saint Andrew Church

St. Andrew’s Italian Church started in 1965. (Previously, St. Mary’s Cathedral and Our Lady of Perpetual Help served Calgary’s Italian community.) Bishop Francis Carroll authorized the purchase of the abandoned St. Andrew’s Presbyterian church in the community of Inglewood. St. Andrews opened on September 14, 1965 after much hard work and restoration by Calgary’s growing Italian community. The Scalabrini Fathers were invited to take over St. Andrew’s parish in 1981. Over the years, the congregation continued to outgrow St. Andrew’s facilities. The Parish was overflowing, the hall was too small, and finding a place to park was almost impossible. In the early 1980’s, the city halted plans to expand the church after encountering strong community opposition.

Saint Andrew’s and Saint Clement’s had reached critical needs. Both needed new facilities to continue to attract a strong community of parishioners. As a surprise to everyone, the Holy Spirit brought the two communities together. After a suggestion by a parishioner, Bishop Paul O’Byrne brought the two communities together in 1984. The dreams of the two communities became a reality when Our Lady of Grace Italian and English Church officially opened in June of 1985. (source: Winds of Change-A History of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary since 1968″)  You can read more about this history in the September 2010 issue of The Carillon.  September-2010-Carillon-Page-10!

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe/Our Lady of Guadalupe

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe/Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Calgary Spanish-speaking Community: Our Lady of Guadalupe (source: Winds of Change-A History of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary since 1968″).  In 1977, seven Hispanic families approached Fr. Lawrence Morgan, CSB, to requet help in forming a Latin American Catholic faith Community in Calgary.  Soon thereafter, the little group began meeting for Bible studies at the city’s Basilian House.  Originally known as Our Lady Queen of the Nations, the community altered its name to the “Spanish Speaking Catholic Community” in 1984.  In 1991, it adopted the title of “The Spanish-Speaking Community-Our Lady of Guadalupe”.  The congregation changed its place of worship frequently.

For almost 2 decades, pastors and parishioners from across the city generously provided worship and study facilities including St. Bernadette’s Church, St. Anthony’s, Assumption Parish, St. Vincent Liem and Our Lady of Grace.  In May 1996, the congregation finally realized its dream of acquiring a permanent home.  After the Calgary Chinese Community moved from St. Paul’s Church to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Spanish-Speaking Community assumed administration of St. Paul’s, located at 2519 Edmonton Trail N.E.  It renamed the vacated church Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The community continued to grow until eventually it outgrew the facility. In May 2013  during a month dedicated to the Virgin Mary,  Our Lady of Grace merged with Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.

Bishop Fred Henry, in a letter to parishioners, announced that the Diocesan Planning Commission had been working with Fr. Ugo Sturabotti, of Our Lady of Grace, and Fr. Salvador Ahumada, of Our Lady of Guadalupe, “conducting a study of our pastoral needs and current pastoral-care delivery systems, the needed maintenance and adequacy of our facilities and parish structures, our personnel needs to serve our Italian and Spanish speaking parishioners, and the changing demographic realities in Calgary.”

The commission recommended that the two churches be merged into a new parish which was named MARY, MOTHER OF THE REDEEMER PARISH, and which was to be located on the Our Lady of Grace site. “The existing buildings and property of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be sold and, in accordance with diocesan policy, the money will follow the people to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Parish,” wrote the Bishop.

The Eucharistic celebrations in Italian, Spanish and English will be honoured in the new parish. “Serious attempts will also be made to retain all existing parish activities and celebrate the respective Feasts/Festivals of both traditions. The office staff of both parishes will be merged.” To read the letter in its entirety, click here!

Thank you to the many pastors and parishioners who have spiritually joined our journey of faith throughout the years.  Place curser over photo for Pastor information or click on first photo to begin slideshow!  Please note that Fr. Salvador Ahumada served the Spanish-speaking community from 1996-2013,  the only Pastor since assuming responsibility of St.  Paul’s in 1996.