Mass at the campground at Fintry Provincial Park
First Annual Event
Parishioners from Holy Family in Vancouver made their First Annual camping trip to Fintry Provincial Park on Okanagan Lake the week of July 24, 2011. For five days the aroma of incense was overtaken by the smell of insect repellent.
Besides the usual activities of swimming and hiking, the opportunity for daily Mass provided a great way for parishioners to interact with one another outside of Sunday service (including swatting away at mosquitoes during daily rosary).
The additional bond of sharing meals, stories and the popular anonymous “Ask Father” a question box (overflowing by day 3) brought a special touch to this spiritual retreat. The location provided the opportunity for a pilgrimage to a historic Catholic site located approximately 30 min. drive from Fintry, the Historic O’Keefe Ranch. The visit initiated inspiration and supplied an educational outlook on a Catholic family living in the 19th century in the Okanagan.
Cornelius O’Keefe founded the Ranch in 1867 with his business partner Thomas Greenhow, at one time it was one of the largest cattle ranches in British Columbia consisting of more than 20,000 acres. With the full support of O’Keefe in 1886, plans were drawn up and local Catholics were asked to contribute their money and time to build the Church, which was finally completed in 1888-89. The rustic looking Church sits adjacent to a cemetery where many of the O’Keefe family member’s have been laid to rest. Recently the appeal of the Church, due to the location and small size, has grown in popularity with wedding events from all denominations. However on this Tuesday in July its Roman Catholic identity was restored even if just for a few hours providing a venue for Mass offered in the Traditional Latin Rite. The traditional High Altar with communion rail along with priestly vestments encased in glass on the wall and statues of Our Lord and Blessed Mother was a reminder of the roots of this Church; The Church has never had a resident priest, but was served by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate until the 1940’s. By this time the establishment and growth of St.James parish in Vernon (1908) surpassed St.Anne’s as the Central Catholic Church in the area. Father Eric Deprey of Holy Family parish celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary form and local priest Father Dale Normandeau from St.James in Vernon was the guest homilist and gave a short history lesson on the tiny Chapel.
The campsite provided a great opportunity for public witness to our faith, with our camping neighbors who recognized our Catholic identity.
See you next year.