Monday, January 30, 2023

Places of faith and prayer: Calgary’s best churches

In Calgary most people are Christians. Besides them, there is a significant number of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews. Another part does not belong to any of the religions. Each of the religious groups has its holy places, where people come for peace of mind and enlightenment. Read more about the best of them at the website calgary-future.

St. Mary’s Cathedral

St. Mary’s Cathedral is one of Calgary’s best Roman Catholic churches. The church is located in the Mission district.

The first communion and other preparations for the sacraments are held here. In addition, volunteer work in the church, aimed at helping to maintain and serve the church for the public masses, is common.

The temple was built in 1889 of sandstone, near the Elbow River, on land provided by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The area was named the Mission District due to the settlement of Father Albert Lacombe in the area in 1884. The French-speaking village of Rouloville was founded on the land around the church, which later became predominantly English and was annexed by Calgary in 1907.

When Pope Pius X created the Diocese of Calgary on November 30, 1912, St. Mary’s Cathedral became the bishop’s residence.

On July 21, 1955, the sandstone cathedral began to crumble, and on October 30, 1955, the cornerstone was laid down. Construction was completed in February 1957 and the Most Reverend Francis P. Carroll, Bishop of Calgary, consecrated the church.

The floor plan in most Western Christian churches has the form of an ordinary Latin cross, in the same cathedral it is in the form of the Cross of St. Anthony (in the form of a T). A 4.9-metre (16 ft) stone statue of the Virgin and Child by Calgary sculptor Luke Lindoe occupies a niche above the main entrance. The pulpit (upper place) was made of oak. The carving on the pulpit depicts the figures of Christ and the four main prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.

Akram Jomaa Islamic Center

Akram Jomaa Islamic Center is part of the Muslim Council of Calgary along with 11 other Islamic centres. The mosque is open for nikah (marriage between a man and a woman), shahada (the words spoken when a person becomes a Muslim), funeral or counseling services.

Despite a long history that predates Canadian confederation, Muslims are one of the most misunderstood religious communities in the country. The earliest Muslim presence in Canada dates back to 1871, when the Canadian census recorded 13 Muslims living there. By 1901, there were approximately 300–400 Turkish and Syrian immigrants living in Canada. The first mosque was built in Canada in 1938 – Al Rashid Mosque in Edmonton.

Hussein Desuki was one of the first pioneers to immigrate to Alberta in 1905. In 1958, he began working on organizing the Muslim community in Calgary. By November 16, 1958, a hall had been rented and approximately twenty Muslims agreed to form the Calgary Muslim Association. Because of the non-Islamic environment in which they lived, the members of the Association realized that they had a responsibility to promote a better study, practice and understanding of Islam and Muslims themselves among Canadians.

In 1960, this small number of Muslims were able to buy an old Anglican church and turn it into a mosque. During this time, the Muslim community grew from 50 to 200 people. And in the early 1980s, their number was already 2,700. Due to the rapid growth of the Muslim community, the mosque could not provide the necessary facilities for its visitors.

The community decided that the mosque needed to be expanded, so they built a new Islamic center (SW Masjid) in 1976. After the establishment of this new mosque, regular congregations were held, religious holidays were celebrated, and a regular weekend school for children was established.

As the Muslim community continued to grow, other needs were identified and met, one of which was a Muslim cemetery where burials were conducted according to Islamic tradition (Sunnah). In the 10 years since the SW Masjid was built, Calgary’s Muslim community has grown to over 15,000 people. Most of them lived in the east of the city, which made it difficult for Muslims to visit the SW mosque on a daily basis.

In 1986, a committee called the East Calgary Mosque Committee was formed to raise enough funds to purchase an existing building, where they planned to create a place for regular prayers and Quranic lessons. They did manage to collect the money. The two-story building with a community center, a formal school and a mosque was established in 1992 and became known as the Akram Jomaa Islamic Center.

Dashmesh Culture Centre (Gurdwara Sahib Calgary

Dashmesh Culture Centre (Gurdwara Sahib Calgary) was created for supporters of Sikhism. The Gurdwara is mostly run by volunteers.

Their community promotes Sikh education and healthy living skills. Also, Sikhs help those who need it, in particular, they provide a place for temporary residence.

Calgary Buddhist Temple

Shin Buddhism (true Pure Land Buddhism) is practiced in the Calgary Buddhist Temple. Weekly services are held here to transmit the dharma to Calgary Buddhists.

There are also programs such as dharma for children, a parent initiative where children enjoy telling stories and making crafts. The Calgary Buddhist Temple is also open to anyone who wants to learn more about their religion through Buddhism.

The Hindu Society of Calgary

The Hindu Society of Calgary is an ideal place for worship and meditation. The temple also offers education for the youth. Here they teach yoga, listen to Indian classical music, study the Hindu language, culture and religion.

The temple is open to everyone, from Hindus to ordinary visitors who want to learn about Hinduism. Priests are also available to answer any questions about religion.

Hillhurst United Church

Hillhurst United Church is a church for followers of progressive Christianity, it is inclusive – for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, ability, age, etc. Striving to practice a healthy religion, they respect all of God’s creation.

Casual and attractive Sunday meetings are held here, which combine topical spiritual issues of the day with reflections rooted in the Holy Scriptures. It offers several online programs such as meditations, youth groups and live streaming of Sunday Mass.

Cornerstone Christian Assembly

Cornerstone Christian Assembly is a non-denominational, Bible-based church that emphasizes God’s grace. They desire to know Jesus and to tell others about him in the community.

The church tries to adapt to the different groups of people who visit it. The church holds worshiping since 1994 its services at various locations such as the Beddington Community Center and Rocky Mountain College. In addition, it has its own separate church for children from 3rd to 6th grade, where parents can leave their children for a while. Here they not only read prayers, but also study poems and play games.

It is worth mentioning the Judaizers. Adherents of this religion do not gather in churches, but have their own synagogues. In Calgary, for example, there is The Little Synagogue on the Prairie. It was built in 1913 or 1916 by Jewish immigrants who settled in Alberta in 1910. It is one of the few surviving examples of small wooden synagogues that were built by pioneers on the Canadian and American prairies.

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