St. Martha’s Roman Catholic Church in Lethbridge marked its 25th anniversary today, July 2 with a celebration that included the unveiling of a painting that depicted a pivotal moment in the life of the church’s namesake.
Painted by local artist, Kevin Orr, the painting captures the occasion where Martha first meets Jesus and serves our Lord and his disciples. The painting, which hangs in the Gathering Space at St. Martha’s, was blessed by Bishop William McGrattan, who officiated the anniversary mass. The celebration was also attended by several of the priests who have served St. Martha’s since it opened in 1994.
The painting is a beautiful reminder of the parish’s commitment to the ideals of hospitality, service and generosity, says Deacon Michael Pollard. A long-time parishioner at St. Martha’s, Pollard has served St. Martha’s since his ordination in 2010.
The celebration included formal acknowledgements from the Vatican and the Catholic Diocese of Calgary. Chris Spearman, the mayor of Lethbridge and a parishioner at St. Martha’s, shared good wishes from the City of Lethbridge.
A social held after the mass gave parishioners a chance to view a digitized collection of photographs that chronicle St. Martha’s history.
“St. Martha’s is not a large parish,” says Pollard. “I would estimate that we have just over 1,000 active families. That gives our parish an intimacy that some parish communities might not have. Our parishioners tend to know one another. That’s nice.”
Located in West Lethbridge, St. Martha’s celebrated its first mass on Saturday, May 7, 1994. That mass was held almost nine years after then-Bishop Paul O’Byrne appointed Fr. Pat Gorman to lead a new Catholic community in West Lethbridge.
“Bishop O’Byrne suggested the parish name, St. Martha’s. It was chosen to be a lasting tribute to the Sisters of St. Martha, who founded St. Michael’s Hospital [now St. Michael’s Health Centre] in Lethbridge,” explains Pollard.
The parish was officially established in 1987. The first masses were held in the newly-opened Children of St. Martha’s School. That school is located across the street from the church.
St. Martha’s parish is the hub of a Catholic community that includes two Catholic elementary schools, a junior high school and a senior high school. “Our parish is very proud of the fact that we paid off the mortgage in just 15 years,” says Pollard. “It’s an indication of what the first parishioners wanted to accomplish here.”