Archbishop Gagnon visits and blesses St. Dominic’s



Photo by Miranda Laybourne. Siblings McGregor and Cherish Pepino present Archbishop Richard Gagnon with a bouquet of fresh flowers on Sun., Mar. 12 at St. Dominic's

By Miranda Leybourne

The Neepawa Banner

The Most Reverend Archbishop Richard Joseph Gagnon, the Seventh Archbishop of Winnipeg, visited St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church in Neepawa on Sun., Mar. 12, to perform a special blessing of the main sanctuary now that the church’s roof construction has been completed.

His Grace the Archbishop celebrated the Mass of thanksgiving along with Fr. Mark Filips, pastor of St. Dominic’s, and parishioners turned out in full force to welcome Gagnon, including some Knights of Columbus and even an RCMP officer in full regalia. 

The Mass was infused with the joy parishioners felt for the completion of their church roof, and reflected the multicultural faithful at St. Dominic’s, with part of the Mass sung in Tagalog, one of the main languages of the Philippines. The Filipino choir did the church proud with rousing, heartfelt hymns and eight-year-old McGregor Pepino and his six-year-old sister Cherish Grei Pepino, were garbed in traditional Filipino outfits while they presented Gagnon with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Gagnon was quick to praise the faith of the parish of St. Dominic’s, which, he says, is the basis for all the work that has been done for the church.

“It’s only because of faith -- there’s no other reason,” he explained during his homily. “Over the years, you have become the largest Catholic community in this part of Manitoba. And there’s a certain responsibility here -- first of all because of your support and because of your faith and because of the growth of the community, the pastor is able to live in the community. So you have enabled that to happen. And the not only in this parish but Carberry as well, in other communities around here as well...all these small communities where there is some pastoral need.”

Gagnon went on to say that St. Dominic’s has come to be a major Catholic destination for the surrounding area.

“This parish has grown to be a hub. It’s a hub, it’s a Catholic community and one which in many ways offers service and a home for many people in this particular region. And the vision and the faith here is something we should keep in mind,” he enthuses. “This is not just for the people who attend Mass here on Sunday, every Sunday. But this building, this place of worship where we pray together, where we celebrate the Sacraments together, where we socialize together, is all about building faith.”

Fr. Mark Filips made a special point of thanking the many people who contributed to the roof renovation, through time, effort, work, materials, prayer and monetary donations, including the Raise the Roof Committee, and all the volunteers and contractors who worked on the project.

Two new statues were also blessed by Gagnon, one of the Virgin Mary, paid for by the local Catholic Women’s League (CWL), and one of St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus, paid for by the local Knights of Columbus. The statue of the Virgin Mary has been dedicated to the memory of local CWL members who have gone to their eternal rest and likewise, the one of St. Joseph to the memory of departed members of the Knights of Columbus.