Paroisse Sacré-Coeur planning anniversary celebration

The present day church in Donnelly.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

A Smoky River parish is ready to celebrate a historic milestone!
Paroisse Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart Parish) is making plans to celebrate its 100th anniversary Nov. 20. Details and registration information regarding the celebration are included in the ad on this page.
Angela Gauthier- Laurin, chairperson of Pastoral Parish Council, says plans are coming together well, but always subject to change due to last-minute circumstances.
Two main parts of the celebration include the 11 a.m. Mass at the church and hot lunch at 1 p.m. at Donnelly G.P. Vanier School.
“At Mass, Mgr. Gerard Pettipas will be presiding with co-celebrants Mgr. Charles Lavoie, Father Jean Cornelis Nkuanga (parish priest) and Deacon Reg Bouchard,” says Gauthier-Laurin.
A special treat is in store at Mass.
“Tentatively, two young ladies, Ariane Côté and Alexandre Fillion, both from Donnelly, will be our choir at church with the assembly joining in,” she says.
The hot lunch menu is comprised of a whole hog meal, turkey, special homemade sauce, baked potatoes with fixings, hot veggies, Caesar and pasta salads, fresh homemade buns, and homemade dessert squares. There will also be cupcakes placed to form the number 100 in recognition of the anniversary.
Lunch will be blessed by Msgr. Charles Lavoie while the master of ceremonies will be Lucienne Plihal, former mayor of Donnelly. Speakers will include Mgr Gerard Pettipas, on behalf of the Archdiocese, Myrna Lanctôt, mayor of Donnelly, Father Jean (parish priest) and Angela Gauthier-Laurin, chairperson of Pastoral Parish Council.

The first church in 1918.

History of the church

Editor’s note: Information sources include Paroisse Sacré-Coeur, Donnelly, Alberta (1922- 1982), Donnelly 75 (1922- 1997), and Leurs réves, Leurs mémoires (Pea- vine Creek Regions).

Sacré-Coeur Parish was established on Nov. 22, 1922 in the small community of Donnelly, Alta.
In 1912, the Mission of St. Jean Baptiste of Falher was opened five km south of where Falher is today. When the railway arrived in the area in 1915, the settlement was named after Father Constant Falher, a Roman Catholic Oblate missionary The settlement then split into what is known as the village of Donnelly and the town of Falher.
A group of 14 settlers from Grouard arrived in the Donnelly area in 1912. They engraved their names on a board on their cart and tied it to a tree. The cross is still located in Maisonneuve Park, located about two km southeast of Donnelly.

History of the churches of Donnelly.

The history of the churches of Donnelly is actually a story of dedication, charity, tenacity and hard work on the part of the citizens who fought against all odds to make their church come into being.
Each person who took a “homestead” was entitled to an allowance of 9,800 feet of lumber. The wood was sawn at the Maisonneuve mill. In order to advance the construction of the church, the conscripts of the first war donated their wooden permit. The wood was part of their “grant”. This is how the first church-chapel was built in 1917-18 on land donated by Adrien Côté.
The it’s the drama. To the great sorrow of the parishioners the church- chapel disappears, victim of a fire. Only the statue of the Sacred Heart was saved; it was on Oct. 17, 1922. Donnelly is about to be erected as a parish.
The undeterred spirit of the pioneers triumphed over setbacks and a hall was purchased and moved to the location of the current post office. On Nov. 22, 1922, by a decree of Bishop Grouard, the parish of Donnelly as canonically erected. Father Alexandre Josse was appointed parish priest.
The church in Donnelly was moved on Oct. 31, 1928. This time, it is placed north of the convent on land donated by Zoël Côté. In 1932, while Father Léon Roy was parish priest, an extension and a presbytery were built. Over the years there is the need for restoration. Later, this house was used for retreats.
Time passes, the parish grows. A new church had to be erected and the parishioners rallied. A call for help was launched in the fall of 1949 with the intent of starting in the spring. During the winter of 1949-50, three groups of men and young lads helped each other, without pay, to log, saw and prepare 40,000 feet of wood at Honoré Maisonneuve’s mill. In May, construction begins. The first Mass was celebrated on Aug. 22, 1951, and Bishop Henri Routhier had the honour of blessing it on Sept. 16, 1951.
Unfortunately, fire once again wreaked havoc; it is an explosion of natural gas and the church burns down on March 6, 1974.
Times have changed. To construct it quickly, they set up a church using prefabricated modules. Given many obstacles and the efforts of the members of the parish council (Jean-Luc For- cier, Maurice Cloutier, Clément Therriault, Gilbert Gauthier and Alphonse Dion), they did an awesome job.
And, in 1975, this allowed the current building to be erected. The first Mass was celebrated Oct. 11, 1975, and the church was blessed by Bishop Henri Légaré on May 20, 1976, on the occasion of a confirmation ceremony.

Above is the church built in 1928. Below is the 1951 church.

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