WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Priscilla and Ave Spratt, co-chairs of the archdiocese's 100th anniversary committee, stand outside St. Joseph's Basilica, the centre of liturgical life in the Edmonton Archdiocese.
In late 1912, the Vatican divided the vast Diocese of St. Albert and created the Archdiocese of Edmonton and the Diocese of Calgary in its place.
The decree, issued by Pope St. Pius X, mandated that the headquarters of these newly created dioceses were moved to Edmonton and Calgary respectively.
These administrative changes were made in recognition of the growth in the size and importance of Edmonton, the capital of Alberta since 1905, as well as Calgary.
In 1912, Edmonton had a population of 31,064. It went up to 63,000 the following year. By contrast, St. Albert was a village with 614 inhabitants.
The Vatican decision surprised Oblate Archbishop Emile Legal, who was already building a cathedral in St. Albert.
In fact, the decision surprised the whole Oblate community, who had founded the St. Albert mission and considered it more or less a sacred place.
Disappointed as he was, Legal didn't oppose the move because he thought it would never happen. The archbishop firmly believed that in less than a decade Edmonton and St. Albert would amalgamate making the transfer unnecessary.
Although the amalgamation of the two cities turned out to be a pipedream, Legal, the first archbishop of Edmonton, was forced to act and in 1917 he finally transferred the archdiocese's headquarters to Edmonton.
His St. Albert cathedral, which was completed in 1922, became the church of St. Albert Parish.
The history of the Edmonton Archdiocese over the past century will be front and centre of the numerous faith-filled activities currently being planned to mark the 100th anniversary of the archdiocese.
"It is fitting that we use this occasion in the Archdiocese of Edmonton to pay tribute to the roots of our beautiful faith, to celebrate our joy in Christ and the many gifts he has bestowed upon us, and to look forward to the next century with a sense of grace and mission," Archbishop Smith said in announcing the initial centennial plans.
"The Church has always celebrated jubilees as significant steps on her journey toward the fullness of Christ; accordingly, I am designating the year from November 30, 2012, to November 30, 2013, as our 'Jubilee 100' year."
Smith said that while an anniversary is cause for celebration, a jubilee is much more than a party: "It is fundamentally an evangelical moment, a time to reconnect with each other and with the Lord."
The year will coincide both with the fifth and final year of the archbishop's Nothing More Beautiful initiative in the new evangelization and with the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict in honour of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
An advisory committee of volunteers and archdiocesan staff has been working with the archbishop to develop a list of projects for the jubilee year.
"Under the overall theme of Joy in Christ, the projects are aimed at celebrating our Catholic heritage, reaffirming our faith, and reaching out to others in a spirit of reconciliation, justice and friendship," says a news release from the archdiocesan Communications Office.
The Jubilee 100 Committee is co-chaired by Ave and Priscilla Spratt, members of Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove.
"The most important goal is to really highlight our joy in Christ with great gratitude to God for being so close to us these past 100 years," said Priscilla.
"And so we are celebrating with a variety of activities, beginning with a gala, which is kicking off in November of 2012 - the actual anniversary (of the archdiocese)."
The Spratts say they are excited and honoured to be a part of this special moment in the history of the Archdiocese.
"God has been at work in the Edmonton area for a very long time and the Catholic Church is alive and well. We are just so grateful to be a part of that," said Ave.
The couple believes the jubilee activities will be a great opportunity to welcome back many Catholic to their faith. "For us it's about bringing the families and individuals back to the Catholic faith," Ave said.
"It's like gathering the family together," added Priscilla. "We are gathering the family together and celebrating our birthday."
Following is a list of projects that have been confirmed:
An evening celebration at the Shaw Conference Centre to launch the jubilee year. This will include a banquet, entertainment and live auction to raise funds for two designated jubilee charities, one within the boundaries of the archdiocese, and one further afield.
Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica to mark the actual 100th anniversary and prepare the faithful for the jubilee. All will be invited, and it will also be shared on the Internet via webcast.
A collection of photos of significant artifacts housed in parishes throughout the archdiocese. These may be paintings, icons, sculptures, banners, stained glass windows, tapestries, quilts, books, baptismal fonts, or other artifacts that are significant for their beauty, their history, their provenance or their role in the faith life of the parish. These images will be shared in various print, audiovisual and online media.
A collection of testimonies and/or biographies of faithful stewards - people who have made a difference in the life of the parish. "We want to tell some of the human stories of our faith community. These stories, with images, will also be shared in various print, audiovisual and online formats," states the news release.
An event to honour the archdiocese's patron saint, St. Joseph the Worker, and celebrate the dedication of the cathedral, St. Joseph's Basilica. The liturgy will include the blessing of a specially commissioned icon of St. Joseph the Worker, which will then travel to parishes throughout the year.
As reconciliation is traditionally part of jubilee celebrations, a special Day of Reconciliation will be held at churches throughout the archdiocese. Schools in the archdiocese's 10 Catholic divisions will be invited to hold their own Reconciliation celebrations for students.