of the Society of St. Pius X in British Columbia
The apostolate of
the Society of St. Pius X in British Columbia owes its establishment to
the valiant work of two traditional priests. This apostolate took a huge
step forward this September with the grand opening of the first priory
of the Society, in Vernon, BC. Yet, our present occupation is little more
than to continue the apostolate established by Fr. Paul Greuter, in the
Okanagan valley, and the itinerant missionary work of Fr. Yves Normandin,
who did much good in preserving the traditional faith of Catholics during
the late seventies and early eighties.
Christ the King church in Langley
Every Sunday, the
traditional Mass is offered at Queen of Peace Church, in Vernon, BC, at
9am. This church building is unique in the possessions of the Society
of St. Pius X, by having a large dome. The acoustics are much profited.
This building was constructed by the Ukranian Catholics of the region,
two generations ago. The church is fairly full with 60 parishioners, so
the Ukranians sold it to build something larger. In 1986, Fr. Greuter
was able to purchase this church from them, and it became the center of
the first traditional Catholic “parish”1
in the Okanagan valley, to be established since the Second Vatican Council.
Here, for many years alone, Fr. Greuter preserved the faith of his growing
parish, and administered the sacraments to souls.
Close-up of the main altar in Langley
In 1997, thinking
ahead to his retirement, and the eventual establishment of a priory of
the SSPX in Vernon, Fr. Greuter built a large residence, next to the church
and parish hall. This is now Our Lady Queen of Peace Priory, which opened
this Autumn. It is a spacious house, with kitchen and dining area, three
offices at the front entrance, bedrooms, and guest rooms. Fr. Greuter,
by such wise foresight regarding the expected expansion of our apostolate
in British Columbia, succeeded in luring priests here, rather than to
Saint Joseph Chruch in Oliver
This good work was
not confined to one city; fervent Catholics, alarmed by the modernist
changes, sought him out, and so Fr. Greuter had many small missions across
the valley, which he visited regularly. In one of these missions, south,
close to the US border, Fr. Greuter was able to purchase a church in 1999.
This is St. Joseph’s Church, in Oliver, BC. Much work had to be done
to renovate this formerly Protestant church. The interior is now recognizably
Catholic, with pews, a high ceiling, and dominated by a beautiful marble-like
altar and a statue of the patron. The pews will accommodate 100 people
– room to grow. Mass is offered there every second Sunday, in the afternoon.
Our dear Fr. Greuter
had also established a domestic chapel in Kamloops, at the house of a
traditional Catholic family. They maintain in their home, a room dedicated
as a sanctuary, and well decorated with an altar, short pews, and an attached
sacristy. Until such time as the parish grows to require a proper church,
Mass is offered in this humble setting every second Sunday in the afternoon.
If you are good at
logistics, you may already realize that one priest remains in the Okanagan
valley each weekend, to offer Mass at Vernon, and then at Oliver or Kamloops.
The second priest travels each weekend to the West Coast. For years, Society
priests were flying into Vancouver, each week or two, from Winnipeg or
Calgary. It was inconvenient, and terribly expensive, but there was no
other way to bring the Mass to our faithful by the sea-side, and also
to those on Vancouver Island. This situation has been much improved by
the residence of two SSPX priests in Vernon, and the retirement of Fr.
Greuter to Nanaimo.
Lady of Good Counsel church in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island
First Nanaimo; Our
Lady of Good Counsel Church is especially dear to me, as my former “parish”2
. It was there I learned to serve
the Latin Mass. Or rather it was not there, but in Lantzville, a small
ocean-front community north of Nanaimo. This building was constructed
as a Catholic Church, but abandoned after the Council, and sold, to be
used as a … day care center. Fortunately this business venture failed,
and it was sold again to a club next door. The men of the club wanted
to use the land where the church was for a horseshoe pitch, and so they
happily sold us the building for $1000, on the condition that we remove
it. Land was purchased in the city of Nanaimo, and the building was moved
there and enlarged in 1989. So Our Lady of Good Counsel Church was restored
to use for true Catholic worship, and of course we revived the original
The largest “parish”3
of the Society of St. Pius X, in British Columbia, is in Langley, a suburb
of Vancouver. The Church of Christ the King was purchased in 1990. The
sanctuary suffered from a destructive fire in 1992. But thanks to much
hard work and careful craftsmanship, the church has been restored, a replica
of the original tall wooden altar constructed, and the final effect is
more beautiful than the beginning. The interior is very attractive, with
a high peaked interior ceiling, a fifteen foot tall wooden main altar,
supporting a statue of Christ, our King, and two matching (smaller) side
altars. Mass is now offered every Sunday morning at this church near
the metropolis, and the same priest will sometimes also visit Nanaimo
on Sunday afternoon. Recently, catechism lessons after Sunday Mass have
been well attended. Such education is necessary to strengthen our faith,
which is continually assaulted by a godless world.
In all of “super natural
British Columbia” there are only four churches dedicated exclusively to
the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. All are served by the
priests of the Society of St. Pius X, with the continuing assistance of
Fr. Paul Greuter. The faith, which was once a bright beacon in this Province,
has been reduced to a flicker by the terrible synthesis of heresy in our
days. But the light of faith will never be extinguished, and we are confident
that under the patronage of our lady, Star of the Sea, we will again enkindle
the faith in the souls of our neighbours.
One should rather use the expression "quasi-parish", or "supplied
parish", because from the canonical point of view, strictly speaking,
our chapels are not parishes. Nevertheless, it is in these traditional
chapels, as opposed to the Novus Ordo parishes, that our faithful can
find the true Catholic Mass, the genuine Sacraments of the Church that
surely convey grace, and the authentic and true doctrine of the Catholic
Church, all of which compounds a healthy and strong spiritual food, which
is not poisond by error and heresy, and which baptized Catholics have
the strict right to receive.
See note No. 1
See Note No. 1