Angela entered the Catholic Church on the Easter Vigil of 1987, after completing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at St. Mary's Cathedral in Calgary. It was two years after she and her husband Mario, a cradle Catholic, had married and moved to Calgary from Burlington, Ontario.
“Within weeks of being a Roman Catholic, Fr. William Stephenson (the Rector at St. Mary’s at the time) informed me as I entered to attend Mass one Sunday morning, that I was to be the lector that day. What a shock and a knee-knocking experience it was,” recounts Angela of her first experience as a church volunteer. As she started her young family, Angela began her lifelong ministry. Before long she was serving many vital functions in several churches in Calgary, running workshops and participating in parish councils, committees, and children’s programs.
Eighteen years of volunteering at St. Anthony’s Church has not dimmed Angela Alexandre’s enthusiasm for serving her community. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic poses extreme challenges for people everywhere, Angela is working hard with the pastoral staff led by Fr. Edmund Vargas to keep the church running during these difficult months.
Not only does Angela ensure that the parish website is up to date, she also sends out the weekly newsletter, which is particularly helpful for elderly parishioners and other vulnerable people who cannot attend Holy Mass in person. She takes part in implementing programs to meet Alberta Health protocols so that people who want to physically attend Holy Mass can safely do so.
“In return for my time, I have the privilege of witnessing parishioners, old and new, come to Mass and be reunited with their parish community – helping them to feel safe, welcomed, missed and needed,” says Angela, who ushers in Holy Mass attendees, cleans, coordinates safety protocols, and counts collections as part of a team.
Angela delights in meeting many wonderful people through her ministry, and treasures being a part of their lives even as they enrich her own. Taking part in church life also enabled her to understand and appreciate the workings and traditions of the parish community, which led to an administrative career with St. Anthony’s Church. She retired in 2014 and her family moved to another parish community for a time, but they found their way back to St. Anthony’s on the First Sunday of Advent in 2019, a homecoming that proved a great blessing to the parish at this time.
Fr. Edmund Vargas, pastor at St. Anthony's Parish, is very thankful of Angela's hard work, "She is the epitome of volunteerism. As a convert, she has been devoted to her faith; she attends daily Mass, and an exemplary wife & mother."
Angela believes that being steeped in the Catholic faith provides an irreplaceable grace, nourishment and strength. For her, the greatest rewards of being a volunteer are “to know the people you pray with; to be able to touch the lives of those in need; to pass along the faith to children and walk with the elderly; to be aware of the young mother with postpartum depression and extend a helping hand, a listening ear or a shoulder; to be able to attend funerals for those who have given so much of themselves during their lifetime and to pray them into the hands of the Lord; to know others and to be known by them.”
“I consider myself paid in full for anything I do, and I believe and have experienced that when you work for God, He is never outdone in generosity,” Angela concludes.
Written by Joan Acevedo, St. Anthony's, Calgary
Photo courtesy of Angela Alexandre.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers