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Parish History

1934  |  Archbishop Duke erects the new parish of St. Michael the Archangel, and appoints Father Thomas Finnegan the first pastor.  The first Mass is celebrated in Mr. Morrow’s Feed Store in Sapperton on April 22nd.  In June the men of the new parish begin construction of a parish church. The church is completed and is formally opened with the Midnight Mass of Christmas, 1934.  The Ladies are organized in the Altar Society, and the Men into the Holy Name Society.

1938  |  Father Finnegan is transferred to the new parish of Our Lady of Assumption in Port Coquitlam, and Msgr. Ambrose Griffith is appointed pastor.  He will continue at St. Michael’s until his retirement in 1954.

1954  |  Father Raymond de Coccola, former missionary in the Arctic, is appointed pastor.  His appointment inaugurates a period of intense activity and growth.

1958   The parish purchases the property for a new site.  St. Michael’s School is built and opens at the end of September.  There is a new Rectory, and a Convent for the Sisters of Charity of Saint Louis, who come to staff the school.  For the next twenty years Mass is celebrated in the school Auditorium.

1960  |  The Slovak community purchases the old church and rectory, and the Archbishop establishes the National Parish of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

1964/65  |  Title for 8.7 acres of land deeded to Sisters of St. Louis for the construction of Marian High School.  Eventually the Sisters sell the school back to the Archdiocese for a nominal price.

1970,  May 16/17  |  Ordination and First Mass of Father Dennis Luterbach.  The celebration takes place in the temporary church, that is the school auditorium.  Father Luterbach is the first priest from the parish, though the family had originally been in St. Mary’s Parish, Vancouver.

1976   The Sisters of Charity of St. Louis withdraw from St. Michael’s and from Marian High School.  Their place is taken by the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of St. John, New Brunswick.  These remain in St. Michael’s for twenty years.

1977  |  Father de Coccola receives permission to build the new church.  The church is completed, and blessed by Archbishop Carney on June 17th, 1978. This was the crowning achievement of Father de Coccola’s service.

1982  |  Father de Coccola retires, after 28 years as pastor of St. Michael’s. He will die at his retirement home in Harrison Mills in 1995. His memory lives on in the hearts of the parishioners.  Father Donald Neumann is appointed pastor.

1982-1989  |  For seven years Father Neumann works tirelessly to embellish the church, to foster the Liturgy, and to promote the spiritual life of the parishioners.  In 1989 he is appointed pastor of St. Luke’s in Maple Ridge.  He will die in 2003, at the age of 55, after having served also as pastor of Corpus Christi and rector of Holy Rosary Cathedral.

1983/84   An intensive period, with the 25th anniversary of the school, the retirement of the mortgage on the school, the 50th anniversary of the parish, the burning of the mortgage on the church debt, and Father de Coccola appreciation day.

1988  |  Marian High School closes.  A sad event for so many alumnae, and especially for many parishioners of St Michael’s, and for many parents who had worked over the years to build and maintain the school.

1989  |  Father Bernard Rossi is appointed pastor of St. Michael’s.  At Christmas Father Patrick Tepoorten is appointed assistant, and will remain at St. Michael’s until the Summer of 1991, serving also as chaplain to Royal Columbian Hospital.

1993  |  The Archdiocese sells Marian High School.  The playing field (Marian property) is subdivided and ceded to St. Michael’s parish.

1994  |  A great parish celebration for Father Rossi’s 25th anniversary of priesthood.

1995  |  Father de Coccola dies (March 15) age 83.  An overflow crowd attends the funeral and reception at St. Michael’s.

1996  |  Father Rossi is appointed Episcopal Vicar for Health Care for the Archdiocese, and named Prelate of Honour.

1998  |  The parish annual celebration of St. Michael’s Feast day coincides with the 40th anniversary of St. Michael’s School.  Many alumni attend, and Archbishop Exner celebrates the Thanksgiving Mass.

1999  |  Father John Swinkels, recently retired priest of the Archdiocese, begins to celebrate a Sunday Mass at St. Michael’s, and becomes an important part of St. Michael’s family.  Eugenio Aloisio, who spent two and a half years at the parish as seminarian and deacon, is ordained to the priesthood at St. Michael’s.  He will serve the parish again for six months in 2008.

2002, 2005, 2008, 2011  |  Banner years for the parish Youth Group, as nearly 30 young people attend World Youth Days in Toronto, Koln, Sydney, and Madrid.

2008  |  50th anniversary of the school.  Father Anicet Pinto is appointed assistant at St. Michael’s, succeeded in 2009 by Father Irudayampattu Arockiadass until 2011, then by Father Anthony Ho and Father Edwin Kulling for a year each, Father Nixon D’Silva for two years, Father Rodney Nootebos and Father Arockiadass again for a year each, Father Reynaldo Usman for a year, and now Father DePaul Doan.

2009  |  75th anniversary of the parish, coinciding with Msgr. Rossi’s 40th anniversary of ordination.

After five years of planning, a new Parish Centre/Rectory is built where the Sisters’ Convent had been.  Archbishop Michael Miller blesses the new building on November 15th; occupancy in the beginning of January, 2010.

2011  |  A special year of Grace for the whole parish as two alumni of St. Michael’s School and parish are ordained to the priesthood: Bryan Duggan for the Archdiocese, Jean-Pierre Ducharme for the Friars Minor.

2013  |  Nicholas Meisl, graduate of St. Michael’s School, is ordained to the priesthood.

2019   |  A banner year for the Parish as Msgr. Rossi observes three significant anniversaries:  his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination on May 10th; the 30th anniversary of his installation as pastor of St. Michael's on July 13th; and his 75th birthday, coinciding with the parish observance of St. Michael's feast day and the burning of the parish mortgage, on September 28th.  

2020   The year begins with ominous forebodings: a new and deadly coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the globe. Safety measures and restrictions are in place in early March.  By decree of the Archbishop, public celebration of Mass is suspended as of Saturday, March 21st.  There will be a brief respite from September to mid-November, allowing congregations of maximum 50 people, then lockdown again.  Only in June 2021 will the church re-open for 50 people, and finally, July 2nd, open without restrictions, other than the mandatory wearing of masks.

St. Michael’s School was closed from March until the end of the school year.  The new school year 2020-2021 was a hybrid year, with some students present, others following instructions on line.

Thanks to a small group of generous volunteers, the daily Mass was livestreamed on Youtube from March 28th, 2020, to July 4th, 2021; Sunday Mass until July 25th.

Confessions continued to be heard in the Rectory, at the regularly scheduled times.  Baptisms, funerals and marriages were celebrated in the church, with a limit of 10 persons present, including the celebrant.

2021  |  Thanks to vaccines and to faithful compliance with precautionary measures, the end of Summer 2021 saw the gradual resumption of “normal” liturgical life.

Father John Swinkels, who had been a part of St. Michael’s family since 1999, passed to his eternal reward on April 10th.  Funeral Mass (restricted to 10 persons) was celebrated by Archbishop Michael Miller on April 20th, livestreamed to parishioners and friends on the wide net.