Whenever guests come to visit our church for the first time, we always bring them first to a portrait of our patron saint that is hanging in our parish hall. In the portrait you will see St. Josephine Bakhita kneeling in front of the Crucifix. Above it is a globe that shows Africa and Italy. Africa, her birthplace, and Italy, her adopted country. On the bottom right side of the portrait we find three huts which during her time in Africa was characteristic of a typical house. It is from this depiction of the three huts that we got the idea of the basic overall design of our church.
THE MEANING OF OF THE DESIGN
Our church design is composed of three octagonal shaped buildings that are joined together by a narthex. Pope John Paul II, at the Beatification of Josephine Bakhita, said: "In Blessed Josephine Bakhita, we find an outstanding witness of God's Fatherly love and a bright sign of the enduring value of the Beatitudes. In our time, when the race for power, money and pleasure causes distrust, violence and loneliness, the Lord is giving us Sister Bakhita as the Universal Sister so she may reveal to us the secret of the truest happiness: the Beatitudes." There are eight Beatitudes, but why three octagonal shapes, you may ask? In the 1800's, many of the people of Sudan lived in thatched huts and having three of these joined together indicate the shape of a flower. Our patron saint is often referred to as "The African flower". We are fortunate enough to have the City-owned protected woodlot behind the church property, which we also took into account in designing the building. Thus, we do not only have a building with a garden but a garden with a church. More importantly, as St. Josephine Bakhita herself would teach us, our lives must be marked by unconditional surrender to the will of God, the essence of perfection. Her motto was: "What the Master wishes". As you further look at the design, it will also remind you of the Transfiguration of Jesus, like a mirror in which the mystery of Christianity is seen in its unity. In this event of Jesus' life, we also realize our true calling, that is, to share in the divine life, to find our ultimate end of being united with the Lord, and hope that one day we shall all see God.
THE FACADE OF OUR CHURCH
The facade of the church consists of a roundabout, two niches dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is our fervent prayer that the beating of the heart of our parish sync with the beating of the hearts of Jesus and Mary - to do the will of the Father. The entrance has three main arches flanked by two rectangular passageway to commemorate the Trinity and the two natures of Christ: Human and Divine.
The three tents are connected through a narthex, which serves as our gathering space before or after the Mass. The wide narthex is truly a blessing since Canadian winters can be very cold and the people have a space to greet and talk after the Mass is over.
THE WORSHIP SPACE
Our sanctuary has seven arches. Above it is a crucifix. The cross is new, but the corpus is old, from a church that was closed down. When we found it, it was hanging in a barn in the outskirts of Pittsburg.
Under the middle arch, we find the Tabernacle. The 1920's tabernacle was given to us by a retired insurance adjuster. While he was investigating a warehouse, he noticed a pile of old carpets lying in a corner. He advised the warehouse manager to throw the old carpets as they were a fire hazard. When they lifted those old carpets, they saw an old tabernacle. Being a good Catholic, the insurance adjuster asked the manager to give the tabernacle to him so he can properly dispose it. He brought the old tabernacle to his where it sat in his garage for eight years. His pastor, having come to know that a tabernacle was sitting in his garage, advised him to contact us since we were building a new church. Upon seeing the tabernacle, we asked for the privileged to restore it.
The ambo, the altar table, the lectern, the presidential chair, and the wood cladding of the sanctuary arches were done by Dean Hansen. Our altar table is square-shaped (like a papal altar) . The cathedral sanctuary light hanging just above the tabernacle is old and refurbished. The candles on the altar were acquired while we were still celebrating Sunday Mass in the school.
We received several first class relics, some are on display and others are hidden inside our Altar Table. We have the relics of St. Josephine Bakhita, St. Magdalen of Canossa, St. Pius X, St. Padre Pio, St. Bernadette Sobirous, St. Catherine Laboure, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Helena, and St. Jean Marie Vianney. When Msgr. Terence D'Souza died, he bequeathed to us his most treasured possession: a piece of the robe of Jesus Christ and a piece of the veil of the Virgin Mary.
We have several statues. The refurbished pilgrim statue of our Lady of Fatima (Our church was slated to open on the 100th anniversary of our Lady's apparition to the three children in Fatima). the refurbished statue of St. Joseph, the statue of St. Josephine Bakhita, the statue of St. Magdalen of Canossa, the statue of St. Therese of Lisieux, the statue of St. Anthony of Padua, the statue of Padre Pio, the icon of our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Crucifix that accompanied the parish since we were established in 2008, and a statue of the Infant Jesus, which went from house to house until it found its permanent home with us.
We have two sacristies: a working sacristy for every day use and a vesting sacristy for Sundays and other major celebrations.
The parish hall can sit about 400 people auditorium style. It also has collapsible partition walls depending on the size of the group that uses the hall. It is equipped with its own sound system and a full kitchen.
THE PARISH OFFICE
The parish office consists of a general office, three smaller offices, a board room, and a meeting room with a collapsible partition wall to divide it into two should the need arise.
AROUND THE CHURCH
Around the church is a landscaped garden with walkways and benches to encourage people to contemplate the beauty of nature. Our patron saint used to wonder as a little child about the beautiful things she saw around her. Although she never had any religious instruction as a child, she always had the inkling that someone great must have made all these possible.