By Fr Mark Miller, C.Ss.R.
In 1914, Archbishop Langevin of St. Boniface contacted Fr. Augustine Duke, C.Ss.R., the superior of St. Augustine’s Parish in Brandon and asked if the Redemptorists would consider founding a new parish in East Kildonan. A check with the Superior General, who encouraged the venture, brought Fr. Duke to Winnipeg as the first pastor, where the first Mass was celebrated in the Redemptorist house on June 21, 1914, the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Thirty-eight parishioners were present. A small temporary church was completed by July 6 (!) and served 136 parishioners at the Sunday Mass. Two years later a new church was ready for the growing congregation. And in 1959 the present church was constructed.
Two Redemptorists came from St. Alphonsus: Fr. Albert Sterzer and Fr. Robert Connaughton. Fr. Sterzer was the pastor when the Redemptorists left St. Al’s in 1993 after which the Capuchins took over pastoral responsibilities.
At the 100th anniversary celebration, Fr. Albert Sterzer and another former pastor, Fr. Bill Bernard, joined in all the festivities. Also, the Sisters of St. Joseph, who worked so tirelessly in the school for decades were represented by two former principals, Sr. Mary Catherine Doyle and Sr. Mary Lou Harris, both of whom were fondly remembered by many of the parishioners.
The weekend festivities began with Benediction on Friday evening. This was followed by a barbeque supper for 250 people and a young people’s dance. Saturday morning there was a Mass and a chance to socialize afterwards. The two big events took place Saturday evening and then Sunday morning at 11 am. The anniversary Mass was celebrated both times, the latter with Archbishop LeGatt presiding and preaching. A magnificent banquet for 350 people and a lovely dance concluded Saturday evening while a lunch for all concluded the celebrations on Sunday. The entire weekend was a testimony to living faith in this wonderful, dedicated community.
MC Havey and our Archives put in hours and hours of work to assist St. Alphonsus Parish prepare their ‘memories’ for the celebration. The parish is also planning to put out a parish history book. It was supposed to be ready for the celebrations but now they hope it will be a Christmas present! Archbishop LeGatt was given a manuscript copy which he planned to skim—but it was so interesting, he read the entire 80 pages one evening and quoted it often on Sunday morning!