As the the Town of Falher’s celebrates its centennial year, it is a time to look back over the past hundred years of development in the region, to the pioneers who came to the region to farm and establish businesses in the area.
The arrival of the pioneers who came to the region to farm and establish businesses, the advent of the Northern Alberta Railway that offered passenger service and provided a means to transport agricultural commodities to market, and the development of the oil and gas industry, are all integral milestones in the history of the region.
What is also a part of the story is the role played by religious orders who came north to establish schools and provide health care.
In November 1920, five Sisters of the Holy Cross arrived to teach school in Falher and three years later their number had risen to nine sisters.
Over the next few years, the Sisters of the Holy Cross expanded their presence in the region, establishing a convent in Donnelly in 1928 and one in Grande Prairie in 1929. Also in 1929, the order opened a boarding school in Falher.
The Holy Cross Sisters began as the Marianites of the Holy Cross, founded in LeMans France in 1841, with the mission of providing quality education.
The Marianites of the Holy Cross arrived in Montreal in 1847 and in 1883 the Canadian congregation established itself as an autonomous Order named Sisters of Holy Cross.
In 1934, the Western Province of Holy Cross Sisters was created in Alberta, under the name Ste-Therese de l’Enfant Jesus Province, with 32 Sisters serving in four communities: Falher, Donnelly, Grande Prairie and Chauvin. The Order’s provincial headquarters was located in Donnelly.
To celebrate the town’s centennial and the role the Order played in developing the region, 38 Holy Cross Sisters are making the journey to Falher from places as far-flung as Haiti and Vietnam.
During the Falher Honey Festival weekend, on Sunday June 16, Mass will be celebrated at 11am with the Knights of Columbus performing an Honour Guard featuring the Sisters of the Holy Cross.
Today, there are only two Holy Cross Sisters, Sr. Edith and Sr. Pauline, who still resident in Falher.