Foster Freed, Trinity United minister, and his counterparts from Trinity Catholic Church, who have shared the same worship space since 1979, will celebrate 40 years this weekend. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Ecumenical Centre celebrating 40th anniversary

Catholic and United churches opened Trinity Ecumenical in 1979

Two religious denominations are set to celebrate four decades of worship under the same roof this weekend.

Nanaimo Ecumenical Centre on Spartan Road officially opened its doors Feb. 4, 1979 and will celebrate 40 years of serving both United and Roman Catholic churches, with festivities taking place Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 2-3.

Marie Gravelle, Trinity Catholic parishioner since its opening, said a Catholic church was set to be built at the site in the late ’70s, but Les Clark of Lantzville and Wellington United Churches approached Father John Zuderwijk of St. Peter’s Catholic Church to inquire about an ecumenical centre which would serve the two faiths.

“There was no thought,” said Gravelle. “We both needed a church. St. Peter’s was bulging at the seams and the north end was growing and we knew that the population would increase and meanwhile, the other two churches … were experiencing the same thing. They both needed a new place of worship.”

Both denominations are represented by councils and a board of governors features members from both. Foster Freed, Trinity United minister who came onboard in 2013, said the two have a good relationship.

“The relationship we presently have is one in which, I would say, that we are co-tenders of this facility and what it stands for, and that the relationship at the present time is very strong and very positive” said Freed.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria co-owns Trinity Catholic, and Father Jozef Kobos, Catholic pastor, said there have been changes and the anniversary will allow both congregations to celebrate together.

“Saturday at 1 p.m. there will be special entertainment … and then on Sunday 9 a.m., mass with retired bishop Remi De Roo, because he built this church here, and he told me that when he built this church it was forest. Nothing was here.”

There will be a joint celebration after the Catholic mass, at 10:30 a.m., with Kobos, Freed and Victoria diocese Bishop Gary Gordon.

Freed said the two specific faiths sharing worship space on Vancouver Island is somewhat uncommon.

“Certainly on Vancouver Island, it’s not that unusual to find the United church congregation worshipping, and sometimes in fact, in a sense, amalgamating with an Anglican congregation, but a United-Catholic coming together in this way is very rare,” said Freed.“I’ve occasionally had people in my congregation come back from Ireland and when the people in Ireland hear that they worship … in the same facility as a Catholic church, their jaws drop.”

– with files from Marie Gravelle

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Just Posted

VIU staff go rock-hunting in Nanaimo for grade-school geology courses

University’s earth science department creating introductory teaching kits for schools

VIEX now in full swing

Vancouver Island Exhibition gets underway in Nanaimo

Retired Nanoose Bay teacher ‘Set for Life’ after $675K lottery win

Shannon plans to buy new sails for his sailboat

Nanaimo Arts Council membership showing work in Ladysmith

Island Living Art Show opens at the Waterfront Gallery on Aug. 24

Volunteers needed for Grandparents Day event in Nanaimo

Picnic will take place Sept. 8 at Bowen Park

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 22

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

VIEX all set for 125th anniversary fair

Vancouver Island Exhibition taking place at Nanaimo’s Beban Park from Aug. 23-25

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Most Read