The Spiritual Significance of a Shrine
A shrine is a church or a holy place that is designated by the bishop as a site where the faithful may make pilgrimage for the reason of faith and devotion. It is a consecrated place where the liturgical and the devotional life of the Church promotes a special closeness to God in and through the lived example of His Saints.
A pilgrimage is the act of moving towards God, expressed in the gesture of visiting a holy site. Just as the Church is a pilgrim towards the New Jerusalem of heaven, the individual members of the faithful who make a pilgrimage become conscious of one’s ascent towards the Creator by the help of His grace.
A shrine dedicated to Our Lady aims to foster greater devotion to the Holy Mother of God through pious practises. The Blessed Mother is the greatest of all disciples. Her full assent to the Father’s Will is a witness of her humility and her total abandonment to God. We are called to follow in her footsteps as we grow in our faith and trust in Him. Being pilgrims ourselves, we hope to be fully united with God by the decision we make each day to take the next step forward towards Him.
A Brief History of the Shrine Parish
The Oblate missionaries first came to Canmore, Alberta in 1883 to minister to Canadian Pacific Railway construction crews. The completion of the rail line triggered the coal mine development attracting mine workers, many of whom were Polish, Italians, Irish, as well as Germans, Russians, French Canadians, Slavs, Austrians and Hungarians. Sacred Heart Parish was founded in 1893 when the Oblate Fathers built a church for the community.
The original Church accommodated only 50 people and served Canmore’s Catholic community until 1960, when a larger church was needed. Construction began in April 1960 and the church, with seating for 250 people, was completed in 6 months. The construction of the church was a model of community cooperation. Local construction companies and workers provided machinery for digging foundations, hauling gravel, pouring concrete, installing insulation. The volunteers included not only parishioners, but also townspeople of other denominations and were organized into four teams of ten men each. Each team worked in rotation on a five-day week of evening shifts from 6-10pm.
Bishop Carroll consecrated the church under the title of the Sacred Heart, assisted by Father Malo, who was the celebrant of the first Mass to be offered in the church.
On August 1, 2001, the Bishop Frederick Henry “twinned” Sacred Heart parish with St. Mary’s in Banff. The new name for the Parish, incorporating the two churches, was Our Lady of the Rockies Parish.
In 2015, the Bishop decided to separate the two parishes to better provide pastoral care of souls expanding a wide area of the Bow Valley. The Canmore Church retained the title Our Lady of the Rockies Parish, while the Banff Church went back to its original name.
On the First Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2017, Bishop William McGrattan announced his desire and intention to designate the new church as a Diocesan Marian Shrine, taking effect on the consecration of the new building.
The Monogram of the Shrine
The AM monogram stands for Auspice Maria. It is Latin for “Under the Protection of Mary.”
As a parish under the patronage of Our Lady of the Rockies, we place ourselves under the protection of our Blessed Mother.
Some of the things we may offer as a Diocesan Marian Shrine…
St Joseph, faithful guardian of Christ and of the Blessed Virgin, we ask for your intercession. We entrust to you this whole work of building our new church, for you are a builder and the protector of the Faith.
Pray to the Father, that this church will be a worthy, glorious and a beautiful home for your Son, where hearts may be raised to true worship in the celebration of the Eucharist.
Pray to the Son, that all who come to this home will experience His Love and Mercy as they visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently and with great devotion.
Pray to the Holy Spirit, that all who enter will be bound in union by His love and will be transformed in their lives, as they go out to serve in the world.
All for Jesus, through Mary, following your example, protect us St. Joseph as we implore your powerful intercession. Amen.
Our Lady of the Rockies, pray for us.