Downtown chapel gets 2nd floor location.

Archbishop Richard Smith and Fr. Oscar Monroy stand in front of the new location of St. Benedict's Chapel in Edmonton's City Centre Mall.


Archbishop Richard Smith and Fr. Oscar Monroy stand in front of the new location of St. Benedict's Chapel in Edmonton's City Centre Mall.

December 21, 2015

As Christmas shoppers buzzed through City Centre Mall, the opening of St. Benedict Chapel in a busier space on the second floor was nothing short of providential.

Father Oscar Monroy, chaplain of the chapel, beamed with joy as people poured in from the mall, filling the sanctuary at the standing-room-only mid-day blessing of the new space by Archbishop Richard Smith.

The Dec. 8 Mass took place on the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the first day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

"Today, as we enter into this season we open the doors of this chapel - this beautiful space - and we're praying that as people come through these doors, they'll recognize this as an oasis of mercy," said Smith.


One symbol for the Jubilee of Mercy is the opening of the holy door, as the pope did in Rome on the day of the St. Benedict Chapel blessing.

"It's wonderful to be opening these doors here because this is the place - since the Eucharist is celebrated here - where we encounter mercy," the archbishop said.

The new chapel location, moved from the third to the busier second floor, serves as a spiritual oasis for those who live or work in downtown Edmonton.

That is particularly true at this time of year when it offers a break from the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping.

Smith said the chapel offers "an immediate reminder that there's more to this life than just immediate consumption."

In his homily, the archbishop said Pope Francis, in declaring the Year of Mercy, invites "the whole Church to step through the holy door. When we walk through a door we pass from one space to another."

The First Reading of the Mass from the Book of Genesis recounted original sin, when Adam and Eve walked through an unholy door, said Smith. They moved from a space of trusting in God's wisdom and providence to one of the illusion of self-reliance.

They thought they could do it all on their own and allow their trust in God to die, he said. Since that moment, the tendency to walk through an unholy door has inhabited the hearts of men and women throughout history.

Yet, when people walk through an unholy door, they enter a self-enclosed space without windows or exit doors, he said. "That world of relying on self to the exclusion of God soon becomes very dark, even suffocating."

People say "'I need a way out. I need a door that will lead me back through to that world where I recognize my need for God.'"


The Church announces that the way out of that suffocating space is fulfilled through Jesus Christ, who is himself the door, said the archbishop.

Smith ended the Mass with a prayer that people become more deeply aware of their need for that door.

St. Benedict Chapel was established 10 years ago by former Archbishop Thomas Collins, who wanted the presence of the Lord in the heart of the city.

Since then, it has welcomed hundreds of people each week to celebrate the sacraments of Eucharist and Confession, to find comfort and to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament.


Monroy said that patronage of the mall chapel has been growing since he arrived four years ago.

The move to the second floor was simply a practical matter, as space became available, and the mall management asked the archdiocese if it wanted to move.

The priest, who has served in various ministries in the archdiocese, said the mall chapel is unique.

"It's an example of who we Christians are. We're common people," said Monroy. "The neighbours sell glasses, the other one sells bicycles. We help the people be happy."