St. Clement Parish in Ottawa Finds a New Home
by Fr. Garrick Huang, FSSP
Assistant Pastor, St. Clement Parish
Not the least among all the works of charity that we Catholics are called by Christ to perform is that of restoring sacred places to their intended order and beauty. Christ told Saint Francis: “Rebuild my Church”, and so Francis set about replacing the stones of an old fallen-down chapel. He didn’t yet realize that Christ had put a capital letter ‘C’ on the word ‘Church’. It would seem that we parishioners of Saint Clement have been called to a similar task.
Archbishop Prendergast must have in mind a greater calling for the Saint Clement congregation, for we serve the entire diocese in providing the sacraments and celebrating Mass according to the liturgical books of 1962, as intended by popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI; “…for those faithful attached to the traditional rites.” Geographically, our congregation is spread over the whole diocese. It is not unusual for our parishioners to travel an hour or more to attend Sunday or even daily Mass.
Even though our home at Saint Clement Church, built in 1955, was well maintained over the years, it became apparent that there were some fundamental physical repairs and changes needed if we planned to remain. In the meantime, the nearby heritage church dedicated to Saint Anne became available.
Saint Anne Church was built in 1873, then soon expanded and modified to serve the French Canadians of Lowertown Ottawa. Owing to urban renewal in the 1960s, most all the local families were forced to quit the homes that had formed the parish during the last century. In 2011, with regret, the St. Anne parish councils petitioned the Archbishop to close their Church, a difficult and agonizing decision after so many years of service to parishioners and the local community.
At the suggestion of the Archbishop, our parish accepted the offer to relocate to St. Anne and, after much deliberation, we began life in our new home on Trinity Sunday in 2012. We retain our name St. Clement Parish, but now have two patrons: St. Clement and St. Anne, to whom the Church remains dedicated.
Archbishop Prendergast visited us, as a father to his family, on the feast of the Assumption, August 15th. In his sermon, after acknowledging the challenges before us, he reminded us that this is the oldest feast of Mary; that it was originally called the ‘Dormition’ in the East and West of Christendom, and that pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus in 1950.
We have begun work on some of the foundations before winter sets in. Temporary modifications to the sanctuary have been made while we work out a long-term concept for the interior. We have been graciously assisted in this task by a curator of the National Art Gallery, a specialist in pre-Confederation French-Canadian architecture, altars and sacred vessels.
The move has brought new parishioners and a renewed dedication of old ones as we move forward with plans for the restoration of this heritage building, the construction of a parish hall, the renewal of the church interior in conformity with our liturgical life, and the growth of this community that has, since 1968, kept alive the great liturgical traditions of the Church.
November 20, 2012