The History of St. James Parish

St. James the Greater, Apostle, Parish was established by Bishop Francis P. Carroll on June 7, 1961, to serve members of Sacred Heart Parish who resided in the districts of Altadore, Lincoln Park and Lakeview in Calgary.  Parishioners initially attended Holy Mass at St. Raymond School in Altadore.

Eighteen pastors have determined the direction of the parish: Reverend Francis T. MacKay 1961-1966, Monsignor James Q. Killen 1966-1970, Reverend Joseph J. Toole 1970-1974, Reverend Edward B. Flanagan 1970-1976, Reverend Erwin Ward 1974-1977, Reverend James M. Hagel 1976-1979, Reverend Denis E. Fleming 1979-1986, Reverend Raymond A. Lowing 1986-1989, Reverend J. Alexander MacLennan 1989-1994, Reverend Andres S. Corral 1994-1996, Reverend A. Wayne Poile 1996-1998, Reverend Myles J. Gaffney 1998-2000, Reverend L. Michael Storey 2000-2007, Reverend Jaroslaw M. Dziuba 2007-2012, Reverend Luciano Cortopassi 2012-2016, Reverend Edmundo F. Vargas 2016-2019, Fr. Dominic Nguyen 2019-2021, and Fr. Eligio Canete (appointed March 2021).

Highlights: On December 24, 1961, Monsignor Arthur J. Hetherington solemnly blessed St. James Church at 2419 – 54th Avenue, built as an interim church-hall.  On May 15, 1966, Bishop Joseph L. Wilhelm blessed St. James Church at 5504 – 20th Street, built as a permanent church-rectory-office complex.  On September 23, 1983, St. James Court, a non-denominational Senior Citizen Complex, was officially opened opposite the church at 2040 – 54th Avenue – a responsibility of the parish that was sponsored by the diocese, with financing provided by Alberta Housing Corporation.  On October 14, 1984, an addition to the church that included a hall and serving area was opened, with Bishop Paul J. O’Byrne attending the ceremony.

Throughout the years, changes in the structure of the church and parish have been in keeping with reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which took place from 1962-1965. On May 14, 2016, following a renovation of the fifty year old church, Bishop Frederick B. Henry and pastors past and present concelebrated Mass followed by celebrations.

Whereas parishioners have previously been predominately from Europe by birth or descent, the changing face of the parish is reflected in the multi-ethnic congregation of today.  Newcomers, bringing a rich religious heritage, have added diversity and stability to the parish.      

The Story of St  James the Greater

Nothing is known of St. James the Greater’s early life, though it has been established that he is the son of Zebedee and Salome and brother of John the disciple.
The title “the Greater” was added to St. James’ name to help distinguish him from the Apostle James “the Less,” who is believed to have been shorter than James “the Greater.”
Saint James the Greater was one of Jesus’ first disciples. James was fishing with his father and John the Apostle when Jesus came to the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called for the fisherman, who were unable to catch any fish that day, to dip their nets in the water once again.
When the fishermen followed Jesus’ instructions, they found their nets full, and after emptying the fish on board, the boats nearly sank from their weight.
Later, James was one of only three called by Jesus to witness his Transfiguration, and when he and his brother wanted to call fire upon a Samaritan town, both were rebuked by Jesus.

Following Christ’s Ascension, James spread the Gospel across Israel and the Roman kingdom as well. He traveled and spread the Word for nearly forty years in Spain.
It is said that one day, as he prayed, The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and asked him to build her a church, which he did.
Later, James returned to Jerusalem but was martyred for his faith by King Herod, who decapitated him. Saint James the Greater is known as the first apostle to die.
As he was not allowed to be buried following his martyrdom, his remains were taken to Compostela, Spain, by some of his followers, who buried him.
In the ninth century his remains were discovered and moved to a tomb in Santiago de Compostela. Today, his remains can still be found in the Cathedral of Santiago.
Because Santiago de Compostela is the most frequently visited place pilgrims migrate to following Rome and Jerusalem, Pope Leo declared it a shrine.

St. James the Greater Prayer

O glorious Apostle, St. James,    who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart
wast chosen by Jesus to be a witness of His glory on Mount Tabor,|
and of His agony in Gethsemane;
thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory:
obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life,
that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus,
we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor’s crown in heaven.