St. Cecilia’s Church in Nanton - 110th Anniversary

Lydia Dillman

On Sunday June 4, a special celebration was held to honor the 110th Anniversary of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Nanton Alberta.

Construction of the church was completed on June 3, 1907. On this day Bishop Légal from St. Albert consecrated the new church and gave it the name of St. Cecilia, the patroness of church music and musicians. On this occasion we sang the last two verses of the hymn Pange Lingua in Latin as would have been heard in 1907. Certainly voices would have been raised in song; sung with joy to praise the Lord and to celebrate their new permanent place to worship.

A lovely potluck meal was enjoyed after Mass. Fr. Tim raised a glass and was joined by all to toast the 110th anniversary. A special part of the festivities was the recognition of nine longtime parishioners present that have attended this church for more than 50 years. A joyous Happy Birthday was sung and delicious cake was served.

Conversations shared this day are the reminiscing of years gone by; speaking of the present and looking forward to the future. In these busy, modern times, St. Cecilia’s is our blessing. Its longevity is visible; its architectural and spiritual character being preserved.
Over its 110-year history St. Cecilia’s has been served faithfully. Fr. Hughes from Prince Edward Island served the church and people from 1918-1933 celebrating Mass every two weeks. Fr. Rouleau, the first ordained priest from the Calgary Diocese came from 1933-1936. From 1936-1941 Rev. A. Tennant served both Stavely and Nanton. During the following six years, Fr. Murphy C.SS.R and Fr. Coyne C.SS.R, (Redemptorists) served this area and the Claresholm Air Force Base. After May 1947 the diocesan priests served. They included Fr. Pat O’Byrne, Fr. Frank Mackay and Fr. Mongeau. Fr. T. O’Riordan attended until 1977, when he was replaced by Fr. Van Tigham. From 1977 until 1998 Fr. Greg Coupal, Fr. T. Connelly, Fr. Dominic Hung Nguyen and Fr. Jim de Los Angeles were serving. For one year the church had no priest. Fr. Benedicto Marino was here from 1999-2006. Fr. Malcolm D’Souza arrived and stayed until 2010. Fr. Angelo D’Costa was present from 2010-2012. His replacement was Fr. Tim Boyle who resides in Claresholm. Currently, he oversees three parishes: Claresholm, Champion and Nanton.

An addition of a hall with seating for 100 people was completed in 1984. Now a modern, well-equipped kitchen adds many more opportunities for using our church hall. In the early 1990s, new parishioners, Ed and Francis Southgate presented the idea of having “toast and coffee” after Sunday Mass. This ritual still continues. Many parishioners linger on Sundays to share moments of togetherness, speak of current and past events, be supportive of one another and share laughter and discussions.

Skip ahead to 2017. Our church has been generously enriched throughout the years with the dedicated services of long-standing parishioners. Today, we are blessed with the arrival of new parishioners who add refreshment to St. Cecilia’s parish community. We remain very thankful to the pioneers of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church who not only built the building, but also built the faith.

St. Cecilia’s • A Poem by Lydia Dillman

This little church for you and me
How blessed we are to practice our faith in thee
One hundred and ten years, a testament to time; this little church steadfast
The visionary pioneers from yesteryear built it to withstand and last
St. Cecilia’s devoted parishioners provide time and loving care
To ensure that this little church will always be here for prayer
Envision the last one hundred years and ten; take time to wonder
The celebrations, the challenges, and the changes; ours to ponder
Present day we celebrate this little church; its past and present
Personally each of us reflect; what St. Cecilia’s to us has meant
St. Cecilia’s; the gift of time and endurance we celebrate today
Let us be forever thankful; to God we give our praise

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