Gerry Avant, Gerry Avant
CALGARY, ALBERTA — Having left Salt Lake City before dawn Sunday morning, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson arrived on a winter-like day to dedicate the Calgary Temple. Snow blanketed trees and grounds, making the scene look more like the Christmas season than fall's harvest time.
A return to Canada is about like going home, said President Monson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ever since he was called in1959 to preside over the Canadian Mission, with headquarters in Toronto, he has had a great love for the country.
"Many of our missionaries – to the Canadian Mission – came from Alberta," President Monson told the Church News a few days before the temple dedication. "They were all very good missionaries. I look forward to being there with some of them and other members."
After arriving in Canada, he said, "Whether east or west, north or south, I love Canada and all our members here. I have a special place in my heart for this land and its people."
Whenever he dedicates a temple, President Monson usually attends a program staged the evening before by the young people of the temple district in celebration of its culture and history. This time, however, President Monson did not attend the celebration.
In a video presentation shown Saturday evening at the opening of the program in the Stampede Corral, he said, "My beloved friends, although I would love to be with you in Calgary this evening, it is my dear wife Frances' 85th birthday.
"She is unable to travel with me to Calgary for the temple dedication, and I felt it was important for me to be with her on this milestone birthday. I know you will understand. Both Sister Monson and I will be viewing this celebration live via closed circuit broadcast in our living room in Salt Lake City.
"I plan to be in Calgary Sunday to dedicate the beautiful Calgary Temple, which is the reason for this great celebration."
During the cultural program, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, who presided over the event, led the youth and audience in singing "Happy Birthday" to Sister Monson. As the song ended, the young performers and their audience of some 16,000 applauded and cheered.
On Sunday morning, President Monson placed mortar around the edges of a symbolic cornerstone, a symbolic completion of the temple's construction.
He was assisted at the dedicatory events by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the church's temple department.
The Calgary Temple is the church's 140th temple worldwide, the eighth in Canada and the third in Alberta.
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