Every month there will be an historical write up of the founding of our church. We thank Dorothy Ann Casey for providing us with this information.
Birth of O.L.V.
It all began when Father John Brady, a missionary from Ireland, arrived in the area. Because he liked the settlement so much, he decided in 1840 to ask the Bishop if he could build a church here. Upon receiving permission, the church was built and it became known as St. Gregoire de Nazianze. The entire French and English Catholic community participated in the growth of their parish. For several years the English-speaking parishioners were anxious to have their own church. After many requests to the Diocese, the decree was granted for Our Lady of Victory Parish, on January 22, 1942. Father E. F. Bambrick was named the first pastor. Three days later, on January 25, 1942, the first Mass was celebrated in the building known as the Cameron Store (which later became the Haspect Bowling Alley) located at the corner of Lefebvre Street and Avenue de Buckingham (formerly Market and Main Street).
As this occurred during World War II, the name of Our Lady of Victory was chosen because all Christians were hoping and praying for peace and a victorious end to the war Throughout history countries that have asked Our Lady for protection during time of war have been victorious).
Now that we had our Church, you can just imagine how this long anticipated news of finally having our own Church was received by everyone as they lived through the hardships of the war!
And so it was that the first Parish Priest, Rev E. F. Bambrick celebrated our first Mass on January 25,1942 in the newly founded parish of OLV, located in the building on the corner of Avenue de Buckingham and Lefebvre St. (formerly Market and Main St.).
This building housed Cameron’s Store (later to become the Haspect Bowling Alley).
The room that became their place of worship had been used to store animal hides, imagine the cleaning and deodorizing that had to be done! With great enthusiasm and a lot of hard work, the parishioners readied the site.
As these were the War years, money and supplies were scarce. The first altar came from St. Malachy’s Church in Mayo. Pews were bought from a Presbyterian Church in Stittsville. Kneeling benches and confessionals were built by parishioners with lumber obtained from the local lumber store. The organ was donated by the Cosgrove sisters, who would be active in the choir for many years.
Overseeing all this activity were the first wardens, William Gorman, Alan McMillan and Leo McDonnell. It should be noted that Mr. McDonnell played an active role in OLV’s 50th Anniversary celebrations!
Father Bambrick lived at the homes of various parishioners until the rectory was built.
The parishioners of the newly formed OLV immediately began to take the necessary steps to have their Church built. The property on Charles Street was purchased from the Town of Buckingham for $1.00. (This had been the site of the Brisebois Hotel, which had burned down in the mid 1920’s).
On October 13, 1942 the ground was broken by a crew and power shovel provided by the Electric Reduction Company. Digging was completed in three days, and the construction of the “Basement Church” began.
Once again because this was wartime, supplies were hard to obtain. Wooden pillars had to be used as steel ones were unobtainable but would be replaced with steel at a later date. The church bell was donated by the Town of Buckingham. The church was completed in April 1943 at a cost of about $50,000.00!
The parishioners celebrated their first Mass on Christmas Eve in 1943.
It should be noted at this time, due to the generosity and determination of the parishioners, they were able to pay in full the construction of the basement church, the first rectory and deposit $40,000.00 in the bank for the future construction of the upstairs church.
Now that we had our Church, parish life began to evolve. The Holy Name Society was dedicated to the elimination of profanity and the promotion of devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus.
The Holy Name Society sponsored the Catholic Boy Scout Troop. They also sponsored the very popular annual St. Patrick’s concerts. Each concert consisted of a three-act play and Irish songs, ran for three evenings, and always sold out.
The Altar Society was a group of Parish women who were responsible for maintaining the priest’s vestments, altar cloths and the altar boys’ surplices. In later years the Altar Society became the Catholic Women’s League.
In 1965, the Holy Name Society and the Catholic Women’s League became known as the Parish Organization, which again changed name in 1976 to be known as the OLV Society. This latter organization remained active until a few years ago.
The 2nd Buckingham Boy Scout Troop and Wolf Cub Pack, founded by Patrick Ryan existed from 1947 to 1973. Many young boys were privileged to have been part of these groups and learned many valuable life lessons and create great memories at the same time!
The Girl Guides and Brownies sponsored by the CWL began in 1959. This group played an active part in the community and in parish activities. The Guides and Brownies learned many practical skills that prepared them for adulthood.
OLV Parish Society was responsible for numerous events including Teas, Suppers, Dances, raffles and other fund-raising events. Society members visited the shut-ins at Christmas and brought them a small gift. OLV Society also sponsored the cereal bar drive.
We are thankful to all the members of these organizations for their dedication to OLV.
Father Ernest Francis Bambrick, our first pastor, guided us through the early years of our parish life. In 1951 he was replaced by Father Wilfred Nevins. Father Nevins carried on the work of Father Bambrick as spiritualleader of our growing congregation and worked with us to attain our dream of a completed church.
In 1956 Father William Gerald Fogarty replaced Father Nevins. Father Fogarty's mandate was to plan and supervise the building of the “upstairs” church and enlarge the rectory. Under his guidance the church was completed and
the first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Eve, 1958. The church was blessed on June 21, 1959 by Archbishop M. J. Lemieux of Ottawa. Father Fogarty presided on this very special day. He would not get to enjoy this new church
for long as shortly after this joyous occasion Father Fogarty would leave to become Pastor of Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish in Hull.
Father Fogarty's replacement was Father D. D. MacDonald, who would be with us from 1959 to 1961. Father MacDonald, as well as those pastors who followed him, worked diligently to make the payments on the debt.
In 1962, Father A. B. Ferguson became our Parish Priest. In his years of dedication to our parish, he proved to be not only a devoted pastor, but also a very capable administrator. It was during Father Ferguson’s term that OLV celebrated its 25 th Anniversary. Bishop Charbonneau, the first bishop of the newly formed diocese of Hull sent his representative, Monsignor W. G. Fogarty to attend the celebration.
Sadly Father Ferguson died in office here at OLV on October 31, 1971 at the age of 53. The Bishop celebrated the funeral Mass at OLV. Father Ferguson’s body was buried in his family plot in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
After Father Ferguson’s death in 1971, our parish was without a Pastor. No replacement could be found immediately as there was a shortage of priests in the Diocese. Father Blase Burneston was appointed as administrator of the parish and was later replaced by Father Maurice Egan as administrator.
In 1972 Father John Berube of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette was appointed our new pastor. Father Berube continued Father Ferguson’s work of promoting the Christian and material well-being of the Parish. Improvements were made to the church, the grounds were landscaped and renovations to the church and rectory were made.
On December 15, 1973 Father Berube was with us as we achieved our long-time dream of burning our mortgage. In just over 30 years, OLV had grown from its very modest beginnings to a parish that had its own church, church hall and rectory! Much appreciation and gratitude is owed to those parishioners who worked so hard and gave so much in order to achieve their dream of a Parish of their own!
In 1975 Father Fernand Langevin, also of The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, became our new Pastor. Under his guidance a very important project was undertaken.
In the late 1970’s the Canadian Government decided to receive thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees, also known as “boat people”. Our parishioners, along with the parishioners of St. Malachy, St. Stephen’s Anglican Church and St. Andrew’s United Church, sponsored a refugee family and gave them the assistance they needed to get established in this country.
It is the involvement in projects like these that show the true meaning of Christian charity and help us to appreciate just how fortunate and how truly blessed we are!
Another such project was the Brady Cemetery, situated on Church Street. This plot of land was originally the site of the first Catholic Chapel in Buckingham as well as the first cemetery. The cemetery had become overgrown with brush and most of the tombstones had been broken. For several years efforts had been made to clean up the cemetery. Finally in the early 1980’s, the property was cleared of brush and the grounds levelled. The property was landscaped with new grass, hedges and a fence. The remaining gravestones were reset and a monument was built. Father Langevin conducted the rededication ceremony, which paid tribute to more that 150 years of Catholic life and service in Buckingham.
In 1977, the long-time Pastor of St Malachy, Father Clement Braceland, died and the parish was left without a priest. Father Langevin took on the duties of this parish as well.
Father Langevin was committed to leading us in our faith journey. He also looked after the material needs of the parish. The roofs of the church, rectory and kitchen were replaced, the interior of the church painted and the church hall and entrance renovated. Additional landscaping was also done.
In 1982 Father Langevin took part in the 40th anniversary of OLV. Many former parishioners came to this special celebration. Mgr. Fogarty and Father MacDonald, former pastors, also attended. Father Langevin remained with us until 1987.
Father Donald Jeffrey, a member of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, became our pastor in 1987. His spiritual guidance helped us all to better our Christian lives.
Many will remember Father singing “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord” on Good Friday and the celebration of Holy Saturday, which included many hours of decorating the sanctuary! It was during this time, after many meetings and much discussion, that the first Mardi Gras dance was held in the parish hall. Father Jeffrey arrived dressed as Uncle Sam. Father loved to sing and, on occasion, he sang a song or two with the band at the parish dances.
It was under Father’s guidance that OLV celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1992. Many former parishioners returned to celebrate this joyous event. Father Jeffrey remained with us until 1993.
Following the departure of Father Donald Jeffrey in 1993, our parish would be led by a Pastoral team: Father Don MacLellan, Father Bob Smith, Sister Sheila and Sister Regina.
This team believed that parishioners should be involved in their parish. Various faith sessions were held in the evenings, with particular emphasis on better understanding our religion. A youth choir was formed. One memorable occasion was a children’s Mass, which included puppets during the sermon!
Father Don was very knowledgeable when it came to computers and the OLV/St. Malachy parish office entered the electronic age with its first computer. Because of serious health challenges, Father Don was forced to leave in 1995.
The team was replaced by Father Lomer J. Rooney. Many will remember Father Lomer as a great speaker. His sermons were given in the center aisle of the church and usually contained a few jokes. Unfortunately, Father Lomer had to leave us that same year because of poor health.
Our Parish was to be without a permanent Pastor for the next two years. Priests, who were taking courses at St. Paul University, said Masses on the weekends. During this period, we were very fortunate to have two local priests, Father Yvan Robitaille and Father Andre Fortin, who rearranged their schedules on many occasions so that they could help us by presiding at funerals.
In 1997 the newly ordained Father Yves Masse became the new pastor of OLV. He would be with us until 1999.
His replacement was Father Jean Loi Nguyen. Father Jean Loi had been forced to flee his home land of Vietnam many years earlier. To say that Father was a computer enthusiast would be an understatement! He shared his love of computers with the younger members of the Parish. He also organized dinners and “fun” evenings in the parish hall for the children.
Many parishioners will remember Joseph and Myriam, Father’s Vietnamese friends, who were often seen around the church helping out with Father’s many projects.
Father had never driven a car before. A few parishioners could probably give some interesting accounts of their experiences during the driving lessons!
In 2001, Father Bill Marrevee became our new Pastor. Father Bill was not only pastor of OLV and St. Malachy, but also St. Aloysius and St. Columban. He also taught courses at St. Paul’s University - a very busy man indeed! Father, originally from Holland, often joked about his accent. He was a very outgoing person. He enthusiastically took part in the sand bag tournaments, which took place in the parish hall. He was always ready to help with set up for various parish events. Father Bill would lead us in our spiritual journey until 2007.
Some parishioners of OLV and St. Malachy attended a party at St. Mark’s in Aylmer in July 2016 to celebrate Father Bill’s 80th birthday and his “retirement”. He didn’t look old enough to retire!
Father Bill’s replacement would be Father Gyanprakash Topno, otherwise known as Father Gyan. Father Gyan came to us from India. Getting used to Canada took a lot of work on Father’s part. Driving on the right hand side of the road, winter and Canadian food were just a few of the things he had to contend with. Father adapted very quickly. Father was very sociable, always smiling. Father Gyan was with us until 2014 when he returned to India.
Father Albanus Ogowuihe arrived at OLV in September 2014. Father is always happy and he often begins his sermons with a joke. He has a great voice, loves to sing and hopes that everyone in the church will join in the hymns. He has a great rapport with the younger members of our Parish, having been a teacher and principal in Nigeria. He is a deeply religious man and is very dedicated to helping us to become more aware of our faith.
As we near the end of this 75th Anniversary year, we are thankful to God and Our Lady of Victory for the many blessings received over the years. We must remember those early parishioners who sacrificed and worked hard to realize the dream of an English-speaking parish for Buckingham. To all the volunteers who in the 75 years of our parish have dedicated many hours of their time to ensure the well-being of our Parish, thank you.