The Knights of Columbus of Queen of Martyrs Church march into their 'new' building.

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

The Knights of Columbus of Queen of Martyrs Church march into their 'new' building.

October 7, 2013
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

With their church in a state of disrepair, the members of Queen of Martyrs Parish decided that it was time to seek out a new building.

Home to Edmonton's Vietnamese Catholics, Queen of Martyrs Church was a structurally unsound building on 96th Street, in the McCauley neighbourhood. Once the parishioners realized that they needed a new church, they examined a few possibilities.

"We started looking into the options that were given to us, starting with moving to Holy Spirit Parish on the west end, then St. Pius X. When the St. Angela Merici building became available, we thought that was the best," explained Huan Ngo, who chairs Queen of Martyrs' parish pastoral council.

"We are very grateful to St. Angela's parishioners who helped with the transition, and they have been helpful when we've called on them to ask things we don't know about the building," said Ngo.

The former St. Angela Merici Church is situated at 13210-133A Ave. Built in 1961 to serve the neighbourhood families, the final Mass there was celebrated June 30.

Given the shortage of priests, an aging congregation and scarce resources, the Edmonton Archdiocese decided in late 2011 to amalgamate St. Angela with St. Edmund's Parish, about 16 blocks east.

As for Queen of Martyrs, it started with a small group attending Mass at St. Catherine's Elementary School and other locations. In the early 1980s, it moved into a chapel on 109th Street, next to St. Joseph's High School in what has since become the distribution centre for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Immaculate Conception Parish, serving French-speaking Catholics, was situated at 10830-96 St., and when the Vietnamese parishioners moved there, the church was renamed Queen of Martyrs.

GROWING CONGREGATION

Since 2001, it has been the site of hundreds of Baptisms, marriages and funerals that marked the lives of Vietnamese Catholics living in Edmonton. The farewell Mass at that location was celebrated Sept. 22 and the first Mass at the new location was Sept. 28.

Prior to the opening Mass, a brief outdoor ceremony was held, in which the parish priest, Father Peter Hung Tran, carried the Eucharist into the church.

After Mass, parishioners stayed for a barbecued meal. The next morning a pancake breakfast was held.

Fr. Peter Hung Tran

Fr. Peter Hung Tran

"Because of the condition and location of the St. Angela Merici building, it was the best. The parking is good, the hall is spacious, and the choir loft as well is a nice feature," said Ngo.

A FEW GRUMBLES

About 200 Vietnamese families are served by Queen of Martyrs Parish. While Ngo admitted that not everyone will say the new location is to their benefit, overall it was their best choice.

"There may be some people who are inconvenienced because of the move, because of where they live now, especially for some elderly people who were within walking distance of the old location," said Ngo.

Mass in Vietnamese is celebrated every Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Currently, there is no English Mass, although both Ngo and Tran told the WCR an English Mass is a possibility if enough interest is shown.

"Some people have been asking the question of an English Mass, especially people who live in the area and those who attended St. Angela before," said Ngo.

"They are really interested in having an English Mass, but we have not discussed it yet in parish council. Father Peter will have the final say on that."

Ngo said Queen of Martyrs is a welcoming parish with an open door to all who want to attend Mass there.

ALL VOLUNTEERS

The Vietnamese church thrives on a low budget, with no paid positions for pastoral assistant, secretary and office manager. Outside of the parish priest, all work in the church is done on a volunteer basis, said Ngo.

The Knights of Columbus was established three years ago and now has 45 members. A mothers group, catechism classes for young people, and two choirs are all part of the active parish life at Queen of Martyrs.