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    Father Giovanni Bonelli:  Oral History Transcript Summary

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A summary of the oral history transcript of Father Giovanni Bonelli in which he describes coming to Edmonton to establish and construct Santa Maria Goretti Church, the first (and only) Catholic-Italian Parish in Edmonton.

Arrival in Edmonton:

  • co-founder (with Father Rino Ziliotto) of only Catholic-Italian Parish in Edmonton - Santa Maria Goretti

  • 1957 Italian community in Edmonton numbered 6-7000

  • petitioned Bishop John McDonald for own parish

  • forced to ask Vatican - community needing help of priest

  • closest mission was in mid-west U.S. - Chicago; received notice from Rome to investigate

  • promised to establish something for the welfare of Italian immigrants

  • Scalabrini Fathers originated in Piacenza (near Milan) took interest in Italian emigrants

  • Father Rino Biliotto & another fellow (who had a personal conflict & didn't come) were appointed to come

  • Father Bonelli (with short notice) appointed instead

  • didn't even know where Edmonton was, had to look at a map

  • came directly from Chicago on Northwest airlines, departure out of Chicago delayed 2 hours due to bad weather, arrived Edmonton Municipal airport around midnight & priest at cathedral came down in pajamas to greet them (it was so late, the thought was that they had changed their minds and weren't coming after all)

  • stayed in residence at cathedral rectory for a year

  • met Italian families (Grelli family mentioned)

  • services held in Sacred Heart church basement

  • arrived 20 December, 1957

  • Italian radio program announced their arrival & "whole bunch" attended church to meet them

  • (amusing incident) a few days later, on Christmas day, they had to hear so many confessions! He supposed their sins had accumulated and "they were in arrears."

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