Corpus Christi Parish celebrates its 100th anniversary over a three-day weekend
By Elizabeth Krump
Special to The B.C. Catholic
"Remember your history," began Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, in his homily as he celebrated Mass for the celebration of the centenary of Corpus Christi Parish Sept. 9.
The Mass, followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and luncheon for nearly 600, came at the end of a weekend of festivities and gathering of the faithful to celebrate 100 years of blessings and community at the parish, known for its multi-ethnic and immigrant make-up.
Pastor Father Bruce-John Hamilton said he was blessed to be in a parish where parishioners are ready to "give so much of themselves."
The generous heart at Corpus Christi was evident in the planning that went into the anniversary event.
Yvonne Lombardo, a member of the event planning committee and a lifetime parishioner of Corpus Christi, said preparations for the celebration had been in the works for nearly a year. She added she hoped the memories shared as a result of the celebration would bring back an old sense of community to the parish.
Several special guests added to that atmosphere of remembrance. Sister Josephine Carney, the only surviving sibling of the late Archbishop James Carney, who was pastor of Corpus Christi Parish from 1955-65, was present for the weekend, as were several of her nieces and nephews.
Father Carney, as he was then, oversaw the building of the current church, a spacious building to accommodate a growing congregation. From all angles, the Carney family was a foundational part of the parish community. John Carney Sr., the father of Archbishop Carney, is identifiable in the oldest surviving photo of the parish community from 1914.
Stephanie Chan, a teacher at Notre Dame high school and a Corpus Christi parishioner, coordinated a visual display on the history of the parish which was featured in the school gym for the weekend. She had dedicated a large part of her summer to sifting through the archdiocesan archives for old photos and stories about the parish, and had collected stories from parishioners.
Stephanie's work was just one example of the dedication found in the parishioners of Corpus Christi and the pride that they have in the history of their parish. Stephanie has been at the parish since she first arrived in Canada 23 years ago from Hong Kong. She describes Corpus Christi as "a parish for everybody," regardless of background, age, or ethnicity.
Archbishop Miller offered similar sentiments in his homily as he praised the parish for the large number of organizations which allow many people to use their gifts to meet a diversity of needs in the parish. "Corpus Christi continues to show a truly Catholic spirit, welcoming all those who belong to the family of faith."
He warmly encouraged parishioners to call to mind the number of baptisms which have taken place at Corpus Christi since its inception. He asked, "How many confirmations have taken place here? How many sins forgiven? How many prayers offered, children educated? How many hearts have received the Holy Spirit?"
He then presented his hope for the parish: that in the years to come the faith would remain vibrant at Corpus Christi. He spoke words of hope as he spoke about the upcoming Year of Faith that has been anno
unced by Pope Benedict XVI. "Faith remains alive because it is shared: passed on to others. Nothing is more beautiful than to speak of our friendship with [Christ]."
After these comments it was an encouraging sight to see 50 altar servers, seven priests, and 500 faithful process around the Nanaimo Street church after Mass, following Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the parish's namesake. Young and old, members of all races, were present to join in the celebration
The archbishop closed with a prayer for unity and a prayer that Corpus Christi might be a beacon of light and faith in the archdiocese in the years to come.