A Synopsis of St. Mary’s Parish Growth
After 94 years, 84 plus nations, 1 faith
The first mass was celebrated in the residence of the first pastor, Fr. Adrian Beausoleil, across Euclid street from the current church. Thereafter masses were celebrated in a nearby storefront, 5330 Joyce Street. At that time the parish consisted of approximately 40 people. The first official recorded parish noneucharistic sacrament, a baptism, was celebrated Nov. 4, 1923.
In 1924 an old butcher shop, Scott’s, on Joyce Street [site of BC Hydro substation] was pressed into service as the parish church. In 1925, due to the rapid growth, the building was doubled in size.
In 1925 some land at Euclid and Joyce was purchased for future construction. After five years of fund-raising and debt repayment a school was constructed on that land. The Sisters of the Child Jesus provided staff for the school which opened Sept. 5, 1931.
April 19,1936 the parish petitioned the archdiocese for permission to build a new church. Fund-raising to pay parish debts continued through the depression and war years. May 28, 1940 Father Beausoleil died having served as pastor 17 years. Construction of the new church building began May 1948, the new church opened Christmas eve 1948 following a candle light procession from the old building to the new.
In the postwar baby boom enrollment, which had steadily grown, increased dramatically. In 1949, the school had to be enlarged and at the same time the decision was made to no longer provide grades 9 – 12. In 1952 Msgr. John Teague became pastor, inheriting the construction debt which was paid off in 1954. In 1956 the present rectory and a new convent at the Northwest corner of Euclid and Joyce were constructed.
In 1969 the parish donated the land through the construction of Columbus Tower seniors residence that opened in 1970. In July 1969 St. Mary’s Parish Center [lower floor of the present school] was opened. Eleven years later, Sept. 1980, the second story [present school] replaced the old school building which was demolished. On May 5th, 1985 the parish rejoiced in the announcement of the settlement of the parish debt and fundraising continued under pastor Dennis Luterbach with a view to replacing the old church building. On Dec. 8, 1988 Archbishop James Carney blessed and dedicated an official shrine at St. Mary’s in honour of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. June 17, 1994 during the International Year of the Family the parish celebrated with about 50 flags reflecting the national origins of our parishioners on the church walls. This celebration of national diversity has become an annual event, growing to over 80 ethnic and national identities.Ground was broken for the new church by pastor Joseph Cuddy on Oct. 23, 1994. The old church was closed with a final liturgy 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11, 1995. Masses were celebrated in the school gymnasium during final construction. The old church and convent were demolished. The current church building was constructed and officially dedicated by Archbishop Adam Exner, OMI Nov. 1, 1995. The final mortgage payment was made November 2001.
List of Pastors:
1923 – 1940 Fr. Adrian Beausoleil
1940 – 1942 Fr. Joseph Kane
1942 – 1944 Fr. Lawrence Bourrie
1944 Fr. Richard Carroll
1944 – 1952 Fr. Francis Nash
1952 – 1963 Fr. John Teague
1963 – 1970 Fr. Patrick O’Sullivan
1970 – 1976 Fr. Paul Foran
1976 – 1985 Fr. Dennis Luterbach
1985 – 1996 Fr. Joseph Cuddy
1996 Fr. John Barry
1996 – 2000 Fr. Vincent Travers, OP
2000 – 2006 Fr. Guy Rivard, OP
2006 – 2017 Fr. Pierre Leblond, OP
2017 Fr. Guy Rivard, OP