St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church History
As you enter the St. Aloysius church on Abbé-Murray street in Gatineau, you enter not only the centre of spiritual life for the English-speaking catholic population of Gatineau but you enter the hearts and dreams of people who have worked so tirelessly to make this parish a reality. Some of those people are still active in our parish today and it is to them that we have to say a special thank you. The parishioners of St. Aloysius have continued throughout their long history to establish a warm and inviting atmosphere for all who enter.
In 1959, St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church (commonly referred to as St. Al’s) came into being thanks to the dedication of the English-speaking faithful community who desired to come together in their own church.
Before St. Al’s was built and during its’ construction, Sunday masses were held in the basement of Saint-Jean-Marie-Vianney Church and later in Saint Pius X School gymnasium as this was the school assigned to the English-speaking community.
On December 20th, 1955, a list of 220 English-speaking families was submitted to His Excellency, Marie Joseph Lemieux, Archbishop of the Diocese of Ottawa (under whose guidance Gatineau belonged in those days) for his approval to form the parish.
In June 1957, Father J.R. Murray was appointed parish priest, and other groups were formed such as the Holy Name Society, Altar Boys Society, Sodalities and a teen club. The Catholic Women’s League had been in place since 1954.
The ground for the new church was blessed on June 15, 1958 amid much pomp and ceremony and the Catholic Women League (C.W.L.) provided one of their often since repeated lunches. The actual building of the church began shortly thereafter.
Sadly, Father Murray’s term as parish priest was short lived. On April 10th, 1959, he died of a heart attack while on a much-deserved vacation in Florida. A new parish priest was appointed on April 26th, Father Maurice Egan, and continued the task of overseeing the final construction phase. The building cornerstone was blessed on the 29th of November 1959. After much sweeping, dusting and cleaning, the first mass was celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve 1959.
In the years that followed, Father Egan worked tirelessly for the good of the parish. His greatest wish was to see the mortgage paid off. In 1975, with interest free loans to the church from the parishioners, it was accomplished.
In 1977, Father Egan introduced a young seminarian named Lomer Rooney to the parish and when Father Egan retired in 1978, Father Lomer was ordained and assigned to our parish as the new pastor. Under his youthful leadership our parish flourished and grew. Father Lomer's guidance led the parish through the difficult times of the late seventies when everyone was questioning everything.
Father Lomer was replaced in 1983 by Father Albert Lefebvre whose quiet spiritualism offered the parishioners a different kind of leadership but an ever-continuous guidance towards God. Father Albert celebrated his 50th Anniversary of Ordination during this time with us. He retired in 1992. That same year, Father Don MacLellan arrived and introduced new ideas to help us on our spiritual path. Father Don was an exceptionally gifted speaker. He was reassigned in 1995 and was replaced by Father Oliver Rich. It was in September that Father Oliver came quietly and gently into our lives and hearts. He remained our Pastor until July 31st, 1998.
On August 1st, 1998 Father Normand Verrier became the seventh parish priest of St-Al’s. Father Norm was not a newcomer to the parish as he had been appointed spiritual advisor to the youth group in 1970 and again as a Deacon in 1972. Father Norm had a special place in his heart for the youth of the parish and had inspired not only the young people but the entire parish to get involved. Sadly, on the 30th of June 2002, Fr. Norm died after a battle with an illness that restricted him to a bed in the Hull hospital for months.
Following this tragic loss, Father William Marrevee (Father Bill), who helped the parish during Father Norm's sickness, was appointed pastor of St. Aloysius and of St. Columban Mission. During that time, Father Bill was also pastor of other English parishes (Our Lady of Victory in Buckingham and St. Malachy in Mayo), so assistance was provided by Father Valerian Menezes (Father Val) from India who came to our parish in September 2000 while doing his doctoral studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Father Val assisted Father Norm and Father Bill with weekday and Sunday masses. Father Val always had a smile on his face and always had time to have a chat. After his studies were complete, he returned to Ranipura, Mangalore India in December 2003. Father Peter Emusa, from Nigeria, came a little later as assistant pastor and stayed until 1994.
In August 2007, although still the coordinator of the English zone in the Gatineau Diocese, Father Bill left our parish and was replaced by Father Gyanprakash Topno (Father Gyan) from India. Like Father Bill, Father.Gyan continued to take on the responsibility of having all four parishes under his care until 2014.
In 2014, Father Albanus Ogowuihe, (Father Al ) was assigned to St Aloysius Parish and continued to serve all four parishes. Father Al was originally from Nigeria and had served in a parish in British Columbia. He was excited to have his first parish.
Father Al was loved by everyone; he brought energy, youthfulness, and his gift of music to our parish community. He had a personal relationship with a lot of our parishioners and constantly prayed for all in need of prayers. Father Al left to be with his ailing mother and the rest of his family, in the hope that he would return in about three years. He was extremely touch by our farewell send off.
Since then, our current pastor Father Gregory Murray (Father Greg) has been graciously serving St. Al’s, St. Columban, St. Malachy and Our Lady of Victory. See more about Father Greg in Our Pastor.
St. Columban Mission History
From 1848 to 1899, the people of Quinnville attended St. Francois-de-Sales parish in Pointe-Gatineau. The church was three hours away by horse and buggy over rough roads, the French sermons also proved challenging for the Irishmen. With all these difficulties, the men of Quinnville decided early in 1896 to study the possibility of forming a new parish with a church closer to home and with an English speaking pastor. Land was donated and construction began on 16 July 1899. Three months later the church was built with all the work being donated by parishioners and funds raised through subscription. The church was solemnly blessed on November 5th, 1899, by the Most Revered Joseph Thomas Duhamel, Archbishop of Ottawa. We have come a long way in the past 100 plus years. We have shared our history and priests with both Saint Elizabeth (1899-1980) in Cantley and St. Aloysius in Gatineau since 1980. Although population has declined, many descendants of the founding members remain faithful to their heritage and to St. Columban Mission. We invite you to celebrate and share with us!
Our parish priest is Father Greg Murray SCJ. The SCJ signifies that he is a member of the religious congregation the Priests of the Sacred Heart. That means that he is a religious priest, and therefore not tied to any particular diocese. He was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, in an anglophone family. He is the middle child of three. His mother now lives in PEI and his father passed away eight years ago. He was raised a Catholic, but did not practice his faith for many years. He returned to the Church in 1994, as a parishioner at St. Dunstan's in Charlottetown. He took his final vows with his religious congregation in 2003 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2004. He has ministered mostly in parishes in the Ottawa diocese, but recently has spent three years in the Diocese of Montreal, where he worked in three Francophone parishes. He is very pleased to be working now in the diocese of Gatineau.
Staff, Wardens Board & Pastoral Team
Secretary for both parishes - Carol Leonard
St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church Wardens
Pastor – Father Gregory Murray
Finance - Jim Brownrigg
Public Relations -
Warden Secretary – Diane Joanisse
Social - Ann Marie Plante
Maintenance – Mike McCann
Hall Rental – Brian Peters
St. Columban Mission Wardens
Pastor - Father Gregory Murray
Chairperson - Amanda Foley
Warden - Paul Paiement
Warden - Marc Maisonneuve
Pastor - Father Gregory Murray
Secretary - Louise MacMillan
Where to Find Us
St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church
300 rue de l'Abbe -Murray, Gatineau Quebec J8P 4Z4
St. Columban Mission
311 ch. St. Columban, Gatineau Quebec J8V 4E3