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At Your Service

At Your Service
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St. Albert Catholic Family Parish was packed with first responders and the community thanking them for their services at the 2019 Blue Sunday Mass. This year's mass at the parish is on Oct. 2, 2022. GERRY KEANE

Blue Mass returns 

St. Albert Catholic Parish continues its 15-year tradition of hosting a Blue Sunday Mass recognizing and thanking first responders for their services. Organized by the Knights of Columbus, it was postponed during the pandemic but returns Sunday, Oct. 2 at 11 a.m.  

A Blue Sunday Mass is celebrated annually in many Catholic Churches for those employed in the field of public safety: police officers, RCMP, firefighters, paramedics, correctional officers, and the military. This year, Blue Sunday Mass also recognizes the extraordinary sacrifices medical personnel made during COVID and will celebrate their contributions. 

“We wanted to make sure even doctors and nurses who are integral to all our systems of emergency response are recognized in helping us get through these past two years. It’s not just the guys on the street driving by in a car,” said Knights of Columbus member Liam Conway, a longtime advocate for better emergency care. 

The first Blue Sunday Mass dates to 1934 in Washington, D.C., when a priest held a service for Catholic police officers and firefighters. Currently, the mass welcomes all denominations and is open to many different types of first responders. 

“It is through this mass we want to show them and their families our appreciation and gratitude,” Conway said. “We know what a good job they do, and we hope the recognition is a boost to their morale. And we hope it helps re-energize them.” 

Retired RCMP officer Gerry Keane added that after the mass, the Knights of Columbus will serve a pancake breakfast. Proceeds from the breakfast are earmarked for St. Albert Victim Services.

St. Albert Parish is at 7 St. Vital Ave. 

Food Bank drive results

Suzan Krecsy, executive director of the St. Albert Food Bank, is all smiles after a successful autumn food drive held on Saturday, Sept. 17. 

“It went really well. Considering the high cost of food, city residents were amazing,” said Krecsy. 

The food bank recorded 23,000 kilograms of food received. It was 4,500 kilograms lower than last year’s record high.

 “Last year we were still in COVID, and the economy hadn’t tanked yet. Inflation has also negatively affected what people buy. Despite the drop in groceries we experienced, we are pleased and grateful for the support.” 

She added food is still trickling in from donors who forgot to prepare bags for the collection drive. Volunteers sorting through donations noted people were thoughtful, and the quality of food was exceptional.  

“Many people had gone out shopping and others took things out of their pantry that were still good and unopened.” 

Two more food drives are planned for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition, a few schools in St. Albert are hosting a “Reverse Halloween.” Brown paper bags are dropped off in their community. Residents are asked to fill the brown bags with food. On a set date, students from respective schools collect the bags destined for the food bank. 

Endowing two roofs 

High inflation, flat-lining salaries, and unexpected crises are giving some families a great deal to worry about. Roe Roofing has just taken the weight off two families’ shoulders — one in St. Albert and one in Morinville. The St. Albert roofing company donated a new house and garage roof to each family. 

Both families needed a helping hand and were selected through contests run by KISS 91.7 and the St. Albert Gazette

Natasha Whitford and her family developed financial troubles several years ago after her husband, a sheet metal worker installing a roof top unit in winter, slid off the roof and shattered a heel bone. The healing process took a long time, and as he struggled to find work, the St. Albert family dug into their savings. 

Last year Whitford was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Although now contained, she was unable to work and earn a living. Leaks started to appear in her ceiling, and when a win-a-roof-contest was announced, Whitford didn’t think she had anything to lose. 

“Winning was a surreal feeling. Is this really happening? Even when I texted my husband, I couldn’t write a full sentence. It was a big weight. The burden was taken away from us,” said Whitford. 

Not too far away in Morinville, single mother Stefanie Obermeyer knew her roof was in terrible condition, however, financial difficulties made planning for fixes impossible. 

Towards the end of COVID, Obermeyer was laid off from her job after working at the company for 11 years. 

“I had no idea I was getting laid off. It was a shock. I must have applied at 200 places, but I didn’t receive a single phone call. I found a job at a property management company, but I was spending more money than I was making,” she said. 

A mortgage, utility bills, taxes, school costs, and increased food costs bit into her budget. A close friend noticed the damaged roof and entered Obermeyer in the contest. 

“It’s such a crazy idea, but you get a different feeling knowing there are selfless people willing to put time and effort into helping a stranger out. I’m beyond grateful. I don’t know how to express my gratitude. I feel I’ll forever be in their debt.” 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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