Canada ’08: The Immaculate Conception Church, Kelowna
Last Sunday evening I paid a visit for Mass in the pleasant, friendly and welcoming, Immaculate Conception Church in Kelowna. I reconciled to arrive a little early and take in the atmosphere of the church, this being my first visit. No more than a mile’s walk along Ethel Street took me to the modern building situated on Sutherland Avenue for twenty to six in the evening, for Mass at six and a scattering of a congregation already in place.
My regular place of worship is Saint Barnabas RC Cathedral in Nottingham, UK, a traditional and older church and I was looking forward to comparing the difference with my regular Sunday evening Mass with that of the experience provided at the Immaculate Conception Church. Of course one understands that the message is the same one worldwide, but still it was interesting to spend my Sunday evening in a much more modern construction with a few different ways of doing things.
At the front of the church there is a welcome from Our Lady of Fatima, whilst upon entering from outside I picked up the Parish bulletin which was informative and free for worshippers. Interestingly there was a ‘Milestones and Anniversaries’ section which included the name of Hockey Hall of Famer, Mario Lemioux as a birthday boy that Sunday! Of course my interest and affection for the Immaculate Conception was now signed and sealed!
Mass began with Father Peter Tomkins who proved to be likeable and affable with the congregation, using an informal style when appropriate, particularly with the children that came forward to receive their awards.
A band played provided the music in a more modern, popular style than I am normally used to. It wasn’t my personal preference but it was hard to fault their excellent musicianship, sincerity and commitment. This echoed the whole feel of the Mass. I guess that I am used to a more sombre and serious affair and this experience felt very ‘light’ by comparison. Perhaps some would argue that this is just as things should be in these days of dwindling congregations.
Father Tomkins talked at length and with some authority in a pleasing manner, helping make Mass an enjoyable and interesting experience. One lighter moment was when a tiny boy ran clop-clop-clop-clop from the very back pew to him to eagerly be handed his award by Father Peter. The young lad was so small it was impossible to barely do anything but hear him, invisible as he was, beneath the level of the pews!
The Mass had a very mixed and (hey this is Canada right!) informal congregation dressed in a variety of ways! None of this ‘Sunday Best’ stuff here for some of the members!
The service ran promptly and finished a little quicker than I am used to. I walked out of the door with my usual lift in spirits for a Sunday evening and wandered off for the mile walk home in a rapidly cooling and crisp Kelowna evening. This was not before engaging in conversation with another member of the congregation whilst walking along the sidewalk. It’s pretty hard not to be sociable with people here in Kelowna, smiling and friendly as the locals invariably are. The congregation of The Immaculate Conception Church on Sutherland Avenue, Kelowna are certainly no exception.