Pauline Lambert, Maurice Gosselin and Suzanne Lamy-Thibaudeau say they will try to make the best of the situation now that their Ste. Anne Parish has been closed.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Pauline Lambert, Maurice Gosselin and Suzanne Lamy-Thibaudeau say they will try to make the best of the situation now that their Ste. Anne Parish has been closed.

November 17 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Members of Edmonton's Paroisse Sainte Anne are grieving the recent closure of their parish.

"Even though we knew it was coming, we didn't feel good at all when the announcement was made," recalls Pauline Lambert, a parishioner for 50 years. "We lost our church, our name and our family."

After almost 62 years of serving francophone Catholics in the city's west end, Paroisse Sainte Anne closed Oct. 1.

For the last two years, after it lost its last worshipping space, about 30 families from Ste. Anne have been travelling downtown for Mass with parishioners at St. Joachim Parish. Despite sharing one building, the parishes kept separate operations.

"But as of Oct. 1 we are one," said Lambert, who recently became chairperson of the St. Joachim parish council.

"I'm sad about it," parishioner Suzanne Lamy-Thibaudeau said of the closure. "I've been at Ste. Anne for the past 20 years coming from Fort McMurray."

Lamy-Thibaudeau said her family didn't know about Ste. Anne when they moved to the city 20 years ago and went there for Mass tentatively.

"The welcoming in this place was outstanding, and after the Mass my husband and I decided that Ste. Anne would be our parish forever. Sadly two years ago we had to leave that place. Now that it's closed, I will go with the other people from Ste. Anne to St. Joachim."

Lambert said most families from the former Ste. Anne will remain active at St. Joachim. "We are looking ahead. We are hoping to make the best of the circumstances."

Maurice Gosselin and his wife Flora were members of Ste. Anne for 42 years.

"It was a very vigorous parish, very welcoming, very friendly," he recalled. "I felt hurt when it was closed but it is what it is; we have to go on."

Gosselin said the parish had at least 160 families when it had its own church.

When the parish moved to the chapel of the Grey Nuns after a fire, numbers decreased slightly. A sharper decrease was noticed when the parish moved to Notre Dame School for the second time.

"People didn't like to worship in the school," Lambert said.

Another reason for the decrease is the decline in the number of young people attending church.

"Our young people are involved in sports, which sometimes conflict with Mass times," lamented Gosselin. "When we were kids, we used to go to church even if there was a hockey game."

Lambert, Gosselin and Lamy-Thibaudeau were among several parishioners cleaning the parish rectory Nov. 10. Parishioners plan to sell the house and donate the furnishings to charity.

Ste. Anne was established in 1951. Its first church was a renovated army hut at the corner of 102nd Avenue and 153rd Street. The first Mass was celebrated there Nov. 9, 1952 by Oblate Father Jean Patoine, the founding pastor.

On Nov. 20, 1966, the church was destroyed by fire and St. Anne parishioners gathered at the former Notre Dame de Lourdes School for worship for a year before moving to the chapel of the Grey Nuns Regional Centre.

After the Grey Nuns sold the building, Ste. Anne parishioners returned to Notre Dame School in 2011. A year later they started attending St. Joachim.