On Nov. 4, 1952, the average wind in Edmonton was 23 km per hour, which made the normal 5 degrees feel more like -5C.
Nevertheless francophones in west Edmonton had waited so long to have their own parish they weren't about to be intimidated by a bit of wind.
Thus, swathed in scarves and other winter gear, parishioners filled the little church to sing and celebrate the first Mass with Oblate Father Jean Patoine, founder and parish priest.
The francophone and Catholic community grew in west Edmonton year after year. Those who wanted to live their faith in French always received a warm welcome at St. Anne's Parish.
For 15 years the parish met in its own church, the building of which was largely directed by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. After fire destroyed the building, the parish spent a year at Our Lady of Lourdes School before going to the Regional Centre of the Grey Nuns of Montreal.
For more than four decades their chapel witnessed numerous Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations and marriages.
However, the chapel would not see the parish's 60th anniversary because the regional centre had been sold and the new owners wanted to redevelop the property.
Last October, unable to stay any longer in the church which had sheltered it for so long, St. Anne's Parish took up provisional residence in Notre Dame School. There the community continued to meet for Sunday Mass and social activities.
After a long period of discernment and facing the impossibility of finding an appropriate place to meet in the west end, the parish is preparing to move again. On the weekend of Nov. 10-11, it will move to the city centre to co-habit with St. Joachim's Parish in its church, an Alberta historic site with a beautiful silver dome.
This dome, visible even from the other side of the river, is a rallying point for many of the city's Franco-Catholic community.
For St. Anne's Parish, the dome points to a place of warm welcome.
As a peaceful haven, St. Joachim's, easily accessible by car or by the LRT at Grandin station, will be a place of worship which St. Anne's will share. Beginning Nov. 10-11, there will be two Masses: Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.
At St. Joachim's Church, Father Felix Kusamba, Sister Eveline Gagnon and the committees of St. Anne's will continue to serve youth, immigrants, families and the pioneers of St. Anne's community. They will also continue their parish journey together, and the rectory will remain in the west end.
In the months and years to come there will be much to do: fundraising, parish activities and increasing the number of members of the St. Anne community.
With the permission of Archbishop Richard Smith, the parish will have five years to reorganize with a view to returning to the west end. So in 2017 the situation will be re-evaluated.
Thus the move to St. Joachim's signifies not the end of St. Anne's Parish but rather an opportunity for reorganization. At the age of 60 it will begin a new stage in its development. Parishioners will thus commemorate the 60th anniversary on Nov. 4, the exact day of the parish's 60th year of existence.
Sixty years is worth celebrating. So all are invited to celebrate the anniversary – former parishioners as well as those looking for a parish who might have the idea of joining us.
On Nov. 4, the commemorative Mass will be held at 11 a.m. in the gymnasium of Notre Dame School (15425-91 Ave.), followed by a pot-luck brunch and a draw for a magnificent hand-woven afghan, a tradition at St. Anne's.
A dancer from La Girandole will provide after-brunch entertainment.
Those who wish to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 780-489-4062, indicating how many are coming and what dish you will bring.