Our Lady of Peace Parish History
In 1904, Father Henri Voisin and Paul Chauvin, priests of St. Marie de Tinchebray, took up residence in the old Innisfail Hotel. Father Voisin made visits on horseback over an area of approximately 25 miles radius, which included Red Deer and Olds.
Mass was celebrated in homes until the first church was built in 1905. It was dedicated and blessed by Bishop Emile Legal, MMI of St. Albert in honour of Louis, King of France on July 21, 1907. This building now converted to a dwelling stands at 4828 – 47th Street. Some families at that time had come directly from France. Sister Emile of St. Joseph’s convent in Red Deer is the daughter of Emile Hermany who built the church. Other families were the Leroughers and Becarts. Mrs. Margaret Wilson, (Nee St. Denis), was one of the original Innisfail families. She helped in the building and supplied many reminiscences of the early years.
Several St. Marie de Tinchebray Fathers succeeded Father Voisin until they were withdrawn in 1924. Secular clergy from Olds and Red Deer served Innisfail until 1937. Father S. Stewart then became the resident priest and built a rectory which stands as a private home at 4924 – 27th Street. Father Stewart was later stationed at Sylvan Lake, and then Rocky Mountain House though he still cared for Innisfail.
From 1941 on, Father Wheeler and his successors at Olds served Innisfail. The second church was built in 1943 under the supervision of Rec. Donald Augustine MacLennan. Archbishop J.H. MacDonald blessed it on July 7, 1946, and dedicated it to St. Louis of France. Reverend Father Angus McRae initiated the third building of the present church. It was blessed and consecrated to Our Lady of Peace by Archbishop Anthony Jordan of Edmonton on March 24, 1963.
Our last rectory was built in 1972 at which time Father Louis Seratto became parish priest. Father Joseph Doucet, CSC, followed in 1979. Then from 1981, Innisfail was served once again from Red Deer by Fathers Paul Kingston, CSC, and Father Hugh MacGillivry, CSC, until the arrival of Father Henry Becs in 1982.
As 1984 marked the 80th Anniversary of the parish, the parishioners decided to give a facelift to the Church and also to build a new parish hall. Several additions to the church and the new parish hall were blessed by Archibishop J.N. MacNeil on October 27, 1985.
From 1987 until 2018 Fr M. Grogan (1987-1991), Fr Joseph Ayling (1992-2000), Fr Gottfried Seifert (2001-2005), Fr George Nellissery (2006-2009), Fr Adam Daniluk (2009-2013), Fr Thomas Puslecki (2013-2018) enriched our Catholic community in Innisfail. On August 16, 2018, Father Liju Jose come to serve as pastor at Our Lady of Peace Parish.
Since August 1974, our parish has also been very fortunate to have the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame serving in Innisfail. Fr Seratto, the pastor at the time, requested Sisters to come to Innisfail to help. Sr. Rita Hughes, originally from PEI, transferred from Evansburg, AB, to work in the parish. Sr. Mary Morris, from NS, came to teach Business Education at the Innisfail Senior High School. Many other sisters came to serve over the years. Currently, we are so blessed to have Sr Marie Clarkin and Sr Paula Maher serving our community.
In 2007, our church celebrated its 100th Anniversary. A grotto to Mother Mary with a Rosary Garden was built in the rectory backyard in 2014. The parish rectory had a major internal renovation in 2015.
The church was in need of a roof repair and in 2017 the parish community decided to start fundraising to complete the project. In August of 2018, during the final inspection by the contractor prior to starting work, it was found that the outside beams of the church were extremely rotten and need to be replaced prior to work starting. Engineers determined that welding steel supports on the beams would allow for a temporary fixing while fundraising continued. On December 22, 2018, due to a smoldering spark from the welding a fire in the south corner of the church caused considerable structural damage. The church was closed on April 21, 2019, after the Easter Mass celebration, so the building of a new church could begin. On September 27, 2019, the work for the new church started and was completed by the end of May 2020. All masses during that time were celebrated at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys School. The new church opened to the parishioners on June 5th, 2020. Although we are very happy to have a new church for our parishioners, it opened under very different circumstances than expected. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and restrictions placed on all public building the opportunity to welcome all parishioners back has been temporarily limited. We look forward to a time when we can all get back together as a parish community to celebrate in our beautiful new church.
In 2020, our parish community welcoming open the doors on a brand new Church and renovated parish hall. This beautiful new rectory will continue to serve our parishioners in their praising and serving of our God.