British Columbia has a rich Catholic patrimony, with a history of zealous missionaries and visionary bishops!
Father Charles Pandosy
1847 arrived in Oregon, died in 1891 in Penticton, BC
Fr. Pandosy was one of the first missionary priests to serve British Columbia when it was still part of the Oregon Territory. He had extraordinary zeal with the first nations, advocated for them against violent colonialism and alcohol trade. He once famously defused a tense standoff between a group of settlers and a band of warriors circling the group by displaying his extraordinary knife throwing skills. He had a great sense of humour. His affectionate nickname for the first bishop of BC (Bishop D’Herbomez) was ‘the great bearded one.’
Bishop Louis Joseph D’Herbomez
At this time period, Bishop D’Herbomez was bishop of all of British Columbia. He had extraordinary missionary zeal, sending his priests (and often accompanying them) to visit first nations communities scattered over Vancouver Island, the interior, and Northern BC. He attended the first Vatican Council and was captured by German troops before being permitted to return to BC. He established the first parish in Vancouver, Holy Rosary, which later became our cathedral.
As well as converting the first premier of British Columbia to Catholicism, Bishop D’Herbomez began the practice of sending priests to celebrate Mass in various settlers homes in what are now the suburbs of Vancouver.
Bishop Pierre-Paul Durieu
Bishop Durieu held his Episcopal consecration at St. Mary’s Mission in Mission, BC. He sought legal status for temperance societies for first nations and regularly visited the various native missions in his care.
Father Edmond Maillard
A French-speaking priest in a largely English speaking province, Father Maillard was so passionate in his work welcoming francophone families arriving in Vancouver that they named their community after him. Maillardville remains a vibrant French quarter in the suburbs of Vancouver.
Archbishop Neil McNeil
The first to be named Archbishop of Vancouver, + McNeil worked tirelessly to build new parishes throughout Vancouver including St. Joseph’s, St. Andrew’s, St. Edmunds in North Vancouver, and Assumption in Powell River. Despite the low percentage of Catholics in the population (just 15% at the time), Archbishop McNeil viewed the parish structure and the Church itself as “a spiritual lighthouse and, to the Catholic in the voyage of life, a guide on the way, and a protection from the shoals, rocks and other dangers, which in a new country like [Canada] multiplied.”
Msgr. Louis Forget
Monsignor Louis Forget, in his nearly 45 years as pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Vancouver from 1917-1960, inspired more than 100 young men and women to enter seminaries and houses of formation. Several priests of the diocese to this day attribute their priesthood to his example and invitation.