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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."