BLESSED SACRAMENT PARISH
In 1944, Archbishop Duke asked the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in Quebec to establish their own parish in the Archdiocese of Vancouver to serve the spiritual needs of the many French Canadians in Vancouver.
His Excellency was very welcoming and advised looking for a suitable place to build a church. Thanks to the dedication of Father Meunier, O.M.I., Chaplain of the Francophone Federation of British Columbia (La Federation des Francophones de la Colombie-Britannique), and other key persons, progress was made.
On June 24th, 1946, in Holy Rosary Cathedral, on the feast of John the Baptist, patron saint of French Canadians, His Excellency announced after mass that the new parish was now established and that Father Henri Meek was named Pastor.
Initially, mass was celebrated in a large room in the house that belonged to the Soeurs du Bon Pasteur (Sisters of the Good Shepherd). But soon the room was too small and further work was done to build a church. In September 1947 work began and on June 27th, 1948, the church was dedicated. Father Henri Meek, s.s.s. was the main celebrant, assisted by Father Zépherin Bélanger, s.s.s., and Father G. Beauregard, Vicar at the Cathedral.
The solemn benediction of the church was made by His Excellency Archbishop W. M. Duke. Soon the parish became the heart of French life in Vancouver and the neighborhood was called ‘le quartier français’.
Father Zépherin Bélanger, s.s.s. saw the need for a French speaking school and said, “A parish without a school is a parish without a soul. We need a school if the parish is to develop.” Father Bélanger nurtured the idea and contacted the Motherhouse of ‘Les Soeurs du Bon Pasteur’ in Quebec. The Superior promised to help, and, in September 1954, five nuns arrived to found the new school. The parish bought the two houses across from the school to house them.
The school served the parish well, and, in 1977, it became a French Immersion School which allowed offered high quality Catholic bilingual education in the diocese. Eventually, in the early 1980’s, there was a need for a gymnasium, and so the parish priest, Father Robert Godard, s.s.s., took the initiative to build one. On April 24th, 1983, His Excellency Archbishop James Carney inaugurated the gymnasium.
After tirelessly serving the school and the parish, the ‘Soeurs du Bon Pasteur’ left to return to Quebec in 1987, followed by the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in 1989.
With diminishing vocations in Quebec, it was not easy to find a replacement for the Blessed Sacrament Fathers. The Archbishop of Vancouver asked Father Nestor Therrien, a diocesan priest, to become Pastor, and he accepted. Father Benoit Laplante from La Pocatière, Quebec, a former missionary in Nicaragua, took over from Father Therrien. In 1998, Father Craig Scott was named Pastor. Father Marc Lalonde followed as parish priest in 1999 and Father Vittorio in the year 2000.
On February 20th, 2014, Archbishop Michael Miller, having seen the deep changes which happened in the parish with the integration of the second and third generations of French Canadians into the English-speaking spiritual milieu of Vancouver, decreed the extension of the pastoral care of Blessed Sacrament Parish to English-speaking faithful living in the newly assigned territory.
Works of radical renovation of the church building, seismic upgrading and beautification were made between July 2014 and October 2015 under the leadership of architects Oberto Oberti of Vancouver and Maurizio Bergamo of Venice, Italy. The newly renovated church is remarkable for some of its features: the large fresco in the sanctuary with scenes from the life of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the birth of the Church; twelve large stained glass windows, based on the design of Spanish artist Kiko Argüello, which were manufactured of Venetian Murano Glass; the altar in white Carrara marble, produced by an artisan in Vancouver and the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with its big tabernacle in Travertine marble and gold plated brass.
We are very grateful to the Lord, to Archbishop Miller, and to all those who collaborated in different ways to allow the spreading of the Good News in this portion of the Universal Church for the salvation of souls and for the glory of God.
The dedication of the church took place on October 25th, 2015, the Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, presided over by Archbishop Michael Miller. Father Vittorio, the Pastor, and other priests concelebrated. Numerous faithful were in attendance.