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The Holy Spirit Parish had its beginnings in the second half of the year 1941. It was started as a Mission of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Burnaby, B.C., by Father Edward Malayter, one of the three Fathers of Mercy who came to British Columbia at the invitation of His Grace, Archbishop William Duke, D.D. The other two Fathers were Father Henry Hall and Father Julian Burt. They established the parish of Our Lady of Mercy.
The first Mass in Queensborough was celebrated on Christmas Day 1941 at Tatra Hall. The altar was prepared by John Piskorik and Joseph Pazurik. The Mass servers were Wilfred Charest and Joseph Matovic.
In the Fall of 1941, Father Malayter purchased three lots from the City of New Westminster on Lawrence Street. Construction of the present Holy Spirit Church began in the early part of 1942. Most of the work was done by Father Malayter and volunteer parishioners, the majority of which were of Slovak origin. Almost all the lumber was donated by the surrounding saw mills.
It took nine months to build the church. In the meantime, Sunday Masses were said at the Tatra Hall at $6.00 per month. Before the Church was finished it was open to the public. In order to accommodate the increasing number of people moving into Queensborough, especially during the Summer of 1942, Father Malayter had to celebrate two Masses every Sunday. At the end of the year the Parish counted over 110 families. In 1943 several Greek families moved into the Parish and arrangements were made to say one Mass a month for them in the Greek Rite. The Church was completed in the Spring of 1943 and it was blessed by His Grace, Archbishop William Duke, D.D., on June 6th of the same year.
Father Malayter died suddenly while on vacation in the Summer of 1944. Father Patrick Branigan, S.P.M., became the second Pastor. He had some improvements made on the Church, he liquidated the debt, and began to save money for a new Parish school and hall, which were badly needed to educate the large number of children.
Construction of the combination school and hall began in 1947 and by October the new Holy Spirit School opened it’s doors to a group of children from the first to sixth grade inclusive. The teaching staff was made up of two Sisters from St. Ann’s Academy in New Westminster – Sister Mary Lambert, and Sister Mary Alma. Archbishop William Duke blessed the new school in 1948.
Sisters from the same order continued teaching until 1954. From that time to this day lay teachers have been hired to carry on the work of education in the Parish school. With the change in teaching staff from religious sisters to lay teachers, the Parish found itself unable to meet its financial obligations. His Grace, the Archbishop of Vancouver at first, and then from 1960 and on the Parish of Our Lady of Sorrows in Vancouver, have helped this Parish by giving school subsidy of $3,000.00 a year.
In the Summer of 1950 Father Branigan was elected Procurator General of the Fathers of Mercy, a new position which required residence in Rome, Italy. Father George Booth succeeded him as Pastor on September 15th, 1950. He served the Parish for about three years. During his time several missions were conducted in the Parish – in Slovak, in English, and in Italian. In the Fall of 1953 he was forced to leave the Parish because of his poor health. Father Romolo Fisichelli came to take his place. His stay in the Parish was short as in May of 1954 he was assigned to the Church of St. Vincent De Paul in New York. Father John Garrone became the next Pastor. During his Pastorate, Father Blyik attended the spiritual needs of the Ukrainians and Father Sprusansky of the Slovak People. The two priests were offering Mass for their own faithful and preaching to them every other Sunday. Later, a Mass was said by Father Blyik every Sunday in the school hall and at the same time another Mass was said for the Slovak people in the Church. This continued for several years.
Father Garrone served the Parish for over a year. His successor was Father Thomas McAvoy who remained until March, 1956. IN that month, Father Lawrence Dal Bon, C.S., was appointed Pastor of Holy Spirit Church by His Grace, Archbishop Duke.
Father Lawrence worked in this Parish for eight years and six months, from March 1956 to September 1964. His Pastorate is marked by the erection and furnishing of a spactious rectory at the cost of over $26,000.00, the installation of two gas furnaces anda new roof on the school, the improvement of the church grounds, etc. To accomplish all this Father Lawrence received financial help from some churches in Chicago and large donations from many of this friends in the U.S.A. and in Canada. Only God can measure the spiritual good done in the Parish by both Father Lawrence and the many priests of various languages, Rites, nationalities and religious congregations.
Father Lawrence was the first missionary of St. Charles (Scalabrinians) to come to Vancouver. His spiritual and material accomplishments will long be remembered and admired. A project very close to his heart was a new church. He started a New Church Fund, but before he could see his ardent desire materialize he was promoted to a larger Parish, St. Francis of Assissi in Revelstoke, in the Diocese of Nelson.
Father Lawrence left Holy Spirit parish on September1st, 1964 and Father Salvino Zanon, S.C. was appointed as the eighth Pastor. During his Pastorate, with the co-operation and generosity of the parishioners, improvements were made in the Church as well as in the parochial school. The $20,000.00 debt on the rectory was paid up and the New Church Fund at the end of 1966 was boosted to $8,645.36.
Father Lino Fongaro, C.S. served the Parish from 1968 to 1970, but he had to leave due to poor health. Father Rino Ziliotto, S.C. took over the Parish in November 1970.
During the last few years the little wooden Church had deteriorated so much, it was no longer safe to hold services there.
In February, 1977 Archbishop Carney gave final permission to proceed with the construction of the new Parish Church. The sod turning ceremony was held in February, 1978, and the building was started shortly thereafter.
The shell of the Church was entrusted to a contractor, and the rest was completed with the help of parishioners and friends of the Parish.
Our special thanks go to the parishioners of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Vancouver, who helped us to overcome in a very substantial way our financial difficulties.
When Father Rino was transferred to Calgary in September 1981, Father Joseph Favotto, C.S. arrived as his replacement. Prior to his time in Queensborough, Father Joseph served in Revelstoke, B.C., and iln the Diocese of Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Father Joseph oversaw the complete upgrading of the interior of the Parish Hall. This involved the installation of a new tile and hardwood floor. The labour and materials were donated by parishioners. Additionally, the roof of the Hall was replaced, and new furnaces were installed in both the Rectory and Hall.
One of the highlights of Father Joseph’s ten years in our Parish was the celebration honouring his Golden Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood. This event was an outpouring of faith and love for this dedicated priest. This Mass was held on Sunday, June 25th, 1989.
In the wake of Pope John Paul II’s 1989 Indult granting wider permission for the celebration of the Tridentine Latin Mass, Archbishop Carney asked Father Joseph to begin a regularly scheduled Sunday Mass in this Rite. Those who attend this Mass travel from various parts of the Lower Mainland, and have made their own contribution to the life of the Parish.
Father Joseph’s health deteriorated in the early part of 1991. During the course of his illness both Monsignor Angelo Sacchi (a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Vancouver) and Father Peter Rigo, C.C. (of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish) celebrated the Parish Masses. The faithful of Holy Spirit Parish will never forget the generous contributions these fine priests made at that time.
Father Patrick Tepoorten was then apointed to administer the Parish. He arrived on May 22, 1991. His previous assignment was Assistant at St. Michael’s Parish, Burnaby and Chaplain at Royal Columbian Hospital. He is the first priest of the Archdiocese of Vancouver to serve at Holy Spirit Parish. Current Pastor, Fr. David Hughes, is the third having followed after Fr. Varghese Edattukaran.