Lacombe is often referred to as a City with a welcoming, small town feel.
For some people, that is exactly the kind of dichotomy they are looking for. Pastor Marco Ste-Marie, a new pastor at St. Andrew’s United Church, is one of them.
Ste-Marie said he actually wasn’t particularly interested in moving to Central Alberta when he applied for the job posting for St. Andrew’s United Church. However, he said speaking to some of the members of the search committee during his interview changed his mind.
“When the interview was over I said I want to be there, I really want to be there,” said Ste-Marie. He added it was the people of St. Andrew’s who brought him to the area.
“I thought if the people in Lacombe were like the people at St. Andrew’s, it cannot be a bad choice.”
Ste-Marie grew up in a suburb of Montreal and has been a pastor for four years. Before becoming a pastor, Ste-Marie had often volunteered with his church and wanted to start doing such work full-time.
“I felt it was my calling, really,” he said.
Ste-Marie said his favourite part of being a pastor is building relationships and growing with other people.
“I grow myself in spirituality and with God and I see people around me growing, it’s that mutual growth in spirituality I guess,” he said. He added that he isn’t overly fond of the number of meetings he needs to attend as a pastor, but the meetings are a necessary part of the job and good things often come out of them.
When he got to come to Lacombe for his final interview, any still existing hesitation Ste-Marie had about moving west quickly left his mind. He said he found the atmosphere a little more open than that which he grew up in.
“I love Alberta,” said Ste-Marie.
Ste-Marie went on to say that he liked the small-town feel of Lacombe and while he is living in Red Deer right now, he still prefers it to the big-city feel of Montreal. He said he likes knowing his neighbours and sharing stories with people when he meets them.
“That’s really what makes me like this part of Alberta.”
Ste-Marie had one close friend in Red Deer that he used to live with while in seminary.
Aside from that, he didn’t know many people in Lacombe or even Alberta aside from a few other friends he made in seminary, but that didn’t discourage him from taking the job and starting a new life here.
Now that he has been living in Central Alberta and working in Lacombe for three months, Ste-Marie said he finds his new life very enjoyable. He said the feeling of warmth he gets here and the laid back attitudes of people leave him feeling somewhat tranquil.
“I’m naturally a hyper and very energetic person so I can become stressed very easily,” said Ste-Marie. “Coming here has been calming me down a lot.”
He added that he plans on staying for quite a while and will have plenty of time to figure everything out.
“I want to be here as long as I can. For as long as God calls me to be here, I will stay here.”
He added that his first challenge will be adjusting to the culture of western Canada and in particular Alberta.
“I think it’s going to take me a few years just to get the culture and the social identity and the social environment and grasp it,” he said. “Not only here in Lacombe but in Alberta period. It’s really different.”
While he is still settling into his new surroundings, Ste-Marie already has a few ideas in regards to what work he would like to do here in Lacombe. For now, he said he would like to focus his goals on maintaining what the church is already doing. He said the church community of St. Andrew’s United Church already has strong ties to the rest of the community of Lacombe. Ste-Marie wants to sure those ties not only remain but continue to grow.
Ste-Marie commented on how the St. Andrew’s United Church building is also used by several community groups outside of the congregation that worships there on Sundays.
He said he wants to continue that involvement and build on it.
“They are already very well established,” said Ste-Marie. “It’s one thing to have them, it’s another thing to keep relationships with them and build rapport with them.”
He added that he would like to see more groups make use of St. Andrew’s in the future as well. For example, he said he would like to create an LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) support group at the
“As I understand it’s kind of a hard thing in Central Alberta to be LGBT so that is something I think I would like to do in a couple years.”
He added he would like to form other support or discussion groups as well – places where people who feel somewhat isolated within their communities can go in order to feel included. Basically, Ste-Marie said he wants to strengthen relationships with those connected to the church.