St. Ignatius Church is located in St. Alban's, in the Coast of Bays area of the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. St. Ignatius Parish serves the towns of St. Alban's, St. Joseph's Cove, St. Veronica’s, Head of Bay d'Espoir, Milltown and Morrisville. It also has a mission church, St. Anne's located in Conne River. This parish is under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Falls-Windsor.
In the 1800's, mass was celebrated in the homes of early settlers by visiting priests, Father Andy Nolan from Harbour Breton and Father Adams from St. Jacques because there was still no church building in the community. However, in 1885, a one room structure was built on Chapel Hill that served both as a church and a school. In 1902, a new church was built where the present fire hall is located. The first resident priest, Father Stanislaus St. Croix, arrived in 1916 and stayed for 27 years. He is responsible for completing and opening the new church. He was also instrumental in building a new school at the end of Rabbit Town Road. However, as time passed, the church fell into disrepair and eventually was taken down. A roof and a bell tower was then put on the basement and was called "the Underground Chapel."
In 1943, Father Michael Hayes followed Father St. Croix and served the parish for 22 years. He was a strong believer that attending mass regularly was an important part of community life for all parishioners, especially school children. Father Hayes was not only a spiritual leader to the community but performed much needed medical and dental services - knowledge acquired while serving in the American military. The population in the area was increasing and in 1946 he was instrumental in building a new school called Holy Cross. Two more schools were opened in 1967/68. Father Hayes was also the priest who was responsible for starting the construction of St Ignatius Church. It is reported that he saw a photo in a magazine of a cathedral in Trois-Rivieres in Quebec and was so impressed with it that he showed the picture to a local carpenter, Sam Cox, and asked him if he could build a church as close as possible to the picture. The idea for St. Ignatius had begun.
Construction got underway in 1949 with four local carpenters: Chesley J.Cox, Sam Cox, Len Smith and Garrett Hoskins. Every available man, woman and child in the local area provided volunteer hours where and when possible and everyone played a role in helping to raise funds for the construction of this beautiful church. It is worth noting that this church was completed using only hand tools as electricity was still not available at that time. In 1965, Father Kevin Ryan replaced Father Hayes and St. Ignatius Church was finally completed and opened that same year. It was then (and still remains) the pride of the community and is often referred to as the Cathedral of the South Coast.
Priests who served St. Ignatius Parish:
1916-1943 Father Stanislaus St. Croix
1943-1965 Father Michael Hayes
1965-1969 Father Kevin Ryan
1969-1979 Father Gordon Grace
1979-1984 Father Bernard Buckle
1984-1994 Father Joseph Gash
1994-2000 Father William Hearn
2000-2001 Father Michael Oboso
2001-2004 Father John Arkorful
2004-2008 Father William Houlahan
2008-2011 Father Alberto Adaza
2011-present Father Edward Brophy
This parish is under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Falls Windsor.
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