Joy resounds as Corpus Christi opens its doors

Knights of Columbus form an honour guard during the Procession of the Gifts.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Knights of Columbus form an honour guard during the Procession of the Gifts.

Worshipers bow their heads in prayer during the first Mass at Corpus Christi Church Jan. 31.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Worshipers bow their heads in prayer during the first Mass at Corpus Christi Church Jan. 31.

February 8, 2016
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

The wait is over. Corpus Christi Parish held its first two Sunday Masses in its new $16-million church Jan. 31 and parishioners were overjoyed.

At the end of the first Mass, Father Joseph Vadassery asked his congregation how they liked their new church. The people answered with cheers and applause.

"It's beautiful and big; I like the big space because more people can fit into church," exclaimed Filipino-born Christine Aguila. She was one of about at least 800 who attended the first Mass in the state-of-the-art church at 2707-34 St.

"I am happy it finally opened because it's close to my home."

John Dominic, who came from India just two years ago, was also excited.

"It's really nice, spacious, good for the community," the 29-year-old man said. "To be in a proper church feels really great. While other churches are closing, we are opening a new church."

"The new church is much better than I expected it to be, honestly," said 14-year-old Daisy Brazil, a reader at the Mass. "It's very open and bright, and there is something about it that feels very welcoming."

Having a new church after years of worshipping in school gyms is "is really cool because we have been waiting for this church to be built for a really long time," Brazil added.

"For as long as I can remember we have been fundraising and getting people to pledge to build the church. Now it's finally here."

Lito Soco, who is in charge of the audiovisual system of the new church and is the church's official photographer, was excited about the new church, saying the sound system is top of the line.

"The sound is great; the acoustic was considered in the design of the building," he noted "We like this church very much; it's just fantastic. It's huge and very nicely laid out."

Crissy Ong came to the first Mass with 11 members of her family, including her children, her mom and her sisters.

"I love this church!" Ong exclaimed. "It's nice to finally have our own church. It's beautiful and the people are warm."

Sheen Ildephonse, his wife Manju and their two boys, Allan, 12, and Dylan, 7, were also at the first Mass.

WELCOMING DESIGN

"I like the new Church. It's just beautiful," Sheen exclaimed. Manju said she likes the church design, especially the seating arrangement and the tabernacle. "(The worship space) is round-shaped and even if you sit in the back, you feel close to the altar and you can see what's going on.

"Also, the tabernacle is in the front. That's make a difference too. Like in all the churches in India we always have the tabernacle right in the front so we get to see it."

The Ildephonse family has been in Canada for seven years and have been members of Corpus Christi since their arrival.

"It's exciting to finally be celebrating in our own church," said Sheen. "It's like a dream come true."

The church was originally expected to be ready for Christmas Mass 2015 but small construction delays forced officials to postpone the opening. Archbishop Richard Smith is expected to dedicate the church March 19.

Corpus Christi is the second parish in the Millwoods area. It was established in 2001 to serve the area east of 50th Street.

In 2004, the new parish began offering Masses in the gyms of Father Michael Troy and Holy Family schools.

That was discontinued in 2011, when officials decided to keep church activities only at Father Michael Troy School in order to build community.

FAN-SHAPED DESIGN

To date, parishioners have raised more than $6.22 million in pledges and direct donations to pay for their new church - a modern fan-shaped facility for 1,500 people.

A unique feature is the roofline and ceiling which have a traditional cruciform shape, open to below. The outside of the Blessed Sacrament chapel will have a lantern form, visible from 34th Street.

In addition to the liturgical elements, the new church also features a hall with commercial kitchen for 250 people, office area for administration, ample gathering space and plenty of meeting rooms.

The church has no basement because the water table is too high.