Archbishop Richard Smith has announced an array of activities over the next 14 months to celebrate the Edmonton Archdiocese's centennial and the worldwide Year of Faith.
They will include a new partnership with the northern Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese, a travelling display to illustrate the archdiocese's history, recitation of the Nicene Creed at all Masses on Sundays and solemnities, and catechetical sessions on the Creed, the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The archbishop made his announcements in a pastoral letter - We Believe! The Archdiocese of Edmonton Celebrates the Gift of Faith - issued Sept. 14, the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
Smith called for constant prayer throughout the year and designated Wednesday, March 6 as a special day to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation. "Our priests will make themselves available throughout the day in their parishes to hear Confessions and bestow God's great gift of mercy and peace."
The special year will begin with a solemn Mass in St. Joseph's Basilica at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11, a day chosen to coincide with the beginning of the Year of Faith in Rome.
The following day, Oct. 12, will be the 50th anniversary of the start of Vatican II.
On Nov. 21, the archdiocese will hold a gala banquet to celebrate its centennial.
Archbishop Richard Smith
On May 1, a new, specially-commissioned icon of St. Joseph, patron of the archdiocese, will be blessed after which it will tour the archdiocese.
Although the St. Albert Diocese was founded in 1871, the see was moved to Edmonton and raised to the level of an archdiocese on Nov. 30, 1912. That day also marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Calgary Diocese, which had previously been part of the St. Albert Diocese.
The archbishop said the proceeds from the Nov. 21 gala dinner will be donated to the Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese and the local Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Smith said the exact nature of the partnership will unfold over time.
As well, the archdiocese will begin to participate in the new National Pastoral Plan for Life and Family next year. "The cornerstone of this plan will be a week set aside annually to honour the family and celebrate life," he said.
The archdiocesan Office of Family and Life will plan activities for the week of May 12 to 19, 2013 as well as for the archdiocese's overall participation in the national plan.
"Faith is the lifeblood of Christians," the archbishop said in the letter. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, faith opens the heart and mind to God. "By faith working through love, we are led to salvation."
Smith noted his predecessor, Archbishop Emile Legal, described the founding of the Edmonton Archdiocese as a "wonderful transformation."
That, Smith said, embraces more than the change in an ecclesiastical territory.
"It captures the effect of faith, which establishes the true boundaries of the Christian life. The gift of faith transforms us.
"By the act of faith, we surrender our entire lives to God who comes to us in the gifts of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We entrust ourselves to God's loving providence and infinite wisdom. We accept the revelation he has given us in Christ and appropriate it as the guiding light of our lives."
The archbishop said the year will only bear fruit if we live in union with Jesus. He asked all Catholics in the archdiocese "to unite with me in prayer for God's blessings upon not only our centenary and the Year of Faith, but also the many works we must undertake in the service of the New Evangelization."
The archdiocese's Office of Evangelization and Catechesis will publish a prayer booklet that brings together prayers for the local Church's three pastoral priorities - the New Evangelization, the protection of human life and vocations.
Smith urged people to pray these prayers frequently, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. He particularly called for the prayers of those "who are confined to home or hospital through disability or illness."
Finally, he called on the faithful to invoke the intercession of Mary, the model of faith.
The Year of Faith will end Nov. 24, 2013, the feast of Christ the King.