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Ste. Marie’s Parish — South Lowell, MA

Part 1, 1905 – 1929

The history of Ste. Marie’s of South Lowell which celebrated its golden jubilee as a parish in 1981 goes back much longer than 50 years in the annals of this century because it was founded as a mission 25 years before it attained the status of a parish.

Dedicated to the honor and glory of God and placed under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mission church came into being as an answer to the yearnings of the French-speaking population of South Lowell for a Catholic school in their midst, and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, hearkening to their pleas, presented their petition to the Most Rev. John J. Williams, Archbishop of Boston.

The first step in the long process of founding a mission which came about as a result of opening a Catholic school, was taken in 1905 when Hermenegilde Brun, Severe Dumont and Napoleon Goyette presented a petition for a school to Rev. Joseph Lefebvre, O.M.I., pastor of St. Joseph’s parish in Lowell. That petition bore the signature of every Catholic family in South Lowell.

With the blessing of Archbishop Williams, an old public school was purchased from the city, and moved from its site in Wigginville to South Lowell. On September 4, 1906, the building was blessed by Rev. Joseph Lefebvre and used both as a chapel and a school.

The very first Mass to be offeded in South Lowell was celebrated in the chapel by Rev. Avit Amyot, O.M.I., first director of the mission, who served its people in that capacity from 1906 to 1915.

Despite the fact that the school was rather old and very humble, it met with the approval of the city’s school officials and it opened on September 6, 1906 with Miss Emma Crepeau as director and teacher, and 64 children were enrolled.

Rev. Julien Racette, O.M.I., succeeded Father Amyot as director of the mission. Noted among the handwritten entries listing the events in the early history of the mission, Father Racette wrote that the completion of the first decade was marked with a gala lawn party which netted $400 profit. He also noted that on December 3, 1916 His Eminence William Cardinal O’Connell officiated at the celebrations in Lowell marking the centennial of the founding of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

In his financial report for 1916, summarized in a four-line account, Father Racette noted the receipts for the year amounted to $3100.31. Expences totaled $2699.69, and an extension to the chapel was bilt at the cost of $400.62.

Father Racette left Ste. Marie’s mission, December 20,1918 to assume his new duties as pastor in Plattsburgh, NY. He was succeeded by Rev. Guillaume Ouellette, O.M.I., who served as director until 1923. He noted that for the first time in the history of the mission, a midnight Mass was celebrated December 25, 1922.

Rev. Joseph Denis, O.M.I., replaced Father Ouellette in January of 1923 and remained only until September when he left to assume his new duties at Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Church. Father Ouellette returned to take charge until Rev. Felix Vachon, O.M.I., arrived in October of 1924.

Another first for the mission was a two-week retreat conducted for the Franco-American Catholics of South Lowell in 1926. Father Vachon termed it a very successful event noting that the little chapel was filled to capacity every evening.

On June 20, 1926, Very Rev. Eugene Turcotte, O.M.I., provincial, blessed the new basement of Ste. Marie’s Church.

The first parish visitation was made in September, 1926 and statistics show that 118 families made up of 620 persons were registered as parishioners.

Parishioners of the mission mourned the loss of Rev. Avit Amyot, O.M.I., first director of the mission, who died May 24, 1927 and for whom funeral services were held at St. Jean Baptiste Church.

Rev. Arthur Lemire, O.M.I., was named director of the mission in March of 1928.

For a second time in less than a year, parhshioners grieved over the loss of another of their great spiritual leaders, when on May 1, 1928 Rev. Felix Vachon died unexpectedly while serving at Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Church.

An official announcement that permission had been granted that the Blessed Sacrament would henceforth remain in the chapel was made on November 2, 1928 and joyfully received by the parishioners of Ste. Marie’s. As an expression of gratitude and esteem, the parishioners feted Father Lemire on May 5, 1929 and surprised him with a Chevrolet automobile.

Part 2, 1930 – 1932

The history of the mission recalls that due to the dedication and savoir-faire of Father Lemire, a long-nurtured dream of all the Catholic families of South Lowell came true in July of 1930, with the assurance that three Sisters of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin would arrive in their midst in September to staff the school. Without this sanction from the superior general of the community in Nicolet, P.Q., the school would have been closed. Though they did not have a convent in South Lowell, the Sisters lived with the members of their community at St. Louis Convent.

Sr. St. Hyacinthe, S.A.S.V., Sr. Alphonse Marie de Ligouri, S.A.S.V., and Sr. Anne du St-Esprit, S.A.S.V., were the first three Sisters of the Assumption to teach the children of South Lowell in Ste. Marie’s School.

Though a small church had been erected in 1925, it was not until 1931 that Ste. Marie’s was given the status of a parish and Rev. Gustave Berneche, O.M.I., was named its first pastor.

In observance of the 25th anniversary of the celebration of the first Mass in the mission chapel of Ste. Marie’s an evening featuring drama and music was enjoyed by parishionners and frends from throughout South Lowell, September 6, 1931 in the parish hall.

A letter from His Eminence William Cardinal O’Connell to Rev. Louis G. Bachand, O.M.I., pastor of St-Jean-Baptiste parish, carried the official announcement of the Cardinal that with the approval of the Diocesan Consultors and upon receiving a decree from Rome, he (the Cardinal) was establishing that section of the Archdiocese of Boston as a separate and distinct national parish for French-speaking people, with a French Oblate in charge. This letter was read at all the masses at St-Jean-Baptiste Church and Ste-Marie’s Church on Sunday, November 16, 1931.

A jubilant parish marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of the mission and the 25th anniversary of the Succursale ste-Marie of La Societe des Artisans, with a solemn high Mass celebrated by Very Rev. Eugene Turcotte, O.M.I., provincial, with Rev. Louis G. Bachand, O.M.I., as deacon and Rev. Joseph Denis, O.M.I., as sub-deacon. A silver jubilee banquet was held that same afternoon.

Permission to make a loan of $3000 to purchase the Damboise home on Grafton Street was granted by Cardinal O’Connell on September 20, 1931 and a fund-raising campaign to pay off the mortgage was immediately launched. Parishioners responded spontaneously with pledges of $50 per family.

For 25 years Ste-Marie’s was dependent on and administered by the Oblates of St-Joseph’s parish. On the last day of November, Ste-Marie’s was able to open its new rectory, a house purchased for the Sisters of the Assumption, who chose not to occupy it until September of 1932. With permission of Father Bachand, the major part of the furniture was donated by L’Hospice St-Joseph and by the Sisters of Charity of Quebec of the Franco-American Orphanage. Parishioners were jubilant that for the first time in 25 years their pastor would be residing in their midst. Father Berneche moved from St-Jean-Baptiste’s rectory to Ste-Marie’s on December 15, 1931 and a telephone was installed two months later, February 12, 1931.

The first Holy Week services were conducted at Ste-Marie’s in March, and the first solemnity of La Saint-Jean-Baptiste, patronal feast day of all Franco-Americans took place in South Lowell June 26, with Rev. Alphonse Breault, O.M.I., of Natick, officiating.

Listed among the important happenings of August, 1932, was the establishing of the Children of Mary’s Sodality on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A group of 37 members was invested with the medal and ribbon of the sodality.

Father Berneche noted that the $3000 debt on the Sisters’ residence had been reduced by $1000 since the outstart of 1932 as a result of a fund raising campaign launched by the parishioners.

At the conclusion of the annual visitation, statistics showed the parish had 128 families, some of which had as many as 14, 15 and 16 members.

Following the October 1932 mission preached by Rev. J. Soucy, S.J., this widely known Jesuit initiated the parishioners into the world-wide Apostolate of Prayer.

Part 3, 1933 – 1941 (Back to top)

The first entry in the parish history for the year 1933 states that the sum of $1600 had been paid on the parish debt during the past year.

On June 8, Bishop Spellman administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 63 children of Ste-Marie’s parish at St-Jean-Baptiste Church.

Ste-Marie’s was honored on November 12, 1933 when Cardinal Villeneuve, who was in Lowell for the golden jubilee of St. Joseph’s School, took time out to visit the South Lowell parish, its church, rectory and school. Desiring to do its share for the Mission, Ste-Marie’s joined the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate in December of 1930 and some 42 parishioners were enrolled as members.

By January 1, 1934 the $4000 debt had been reduced to $1300.

The parish was honored on February 4, 1934 when Charles Massicotte, a native of the parish ordained to the priesthood in Manchester, NH two days earlier, celebrated his first solemn high Mass at Ste-Marie’s. Father Berneche served as arch-priest and delivered the sermon. He noted that the fledgling two-year-old parish was already giving its first priest to the service of God and Holy Mother Church.

Fire destroyed the first floor of the school on January 25, 1936 and the children could not attend classes for a week. Parochial authorities decided to hold classes temporarily in the church. The men of the parish immediately volunteered to do the necessary work. A club was organized to sponsor fund-raisers to defray the expense of renovations.

By September 8, 1937 there were 139 families numbering 598 people in the parish and several new groups were formed, one of which was the Boy Scout troop.

The parish buildings were without electric power for three weeks as a result of the hurricane which hit New England in September, 1938. Though the school was closed for only four days, all parish activities were paralyzed for more than a month.

Activities were numerous in 1939 according to Father Berneche, and the parish celebrated with a French Canadian “Reveillon” after the Midnight Mass. Net proceeds amounted to $182.75 which the pastor termed a great success.

A building fund was launched early in 1940 and by April the committees had raised $535.45. In October the parish opened classes in religious education for the children and youth attending public schools. Sixty registered.

Efforts were intensified to raise money for the new church and on June 5, a request that every working parishioner donate one day’s salary was made by Father Berneche and met with general approval of the parish. The results were very gratifying. The women of the parish tried to do their share in the mammoth fund-raising effort by sponsoring whist and bridge parties, penny sales and cake sales, and the whole gamut of social events, all of which helped greatly. Several other groups, whose members were parishioners, also contributed by sponsoring musical and dramatic “soirees” as well as several variety and Minstrel shows.

One of these groups, the Cercle Jeann-Mance, organized a city-wide card party held at the Rex, April 13, 1931 and proudly presented the pastor with a check for $100. A grand minstrel show enabled parish talent to make their donation of $96.09 to swell the building fund which, according to the pastor, on April 27, had the sum of $1800 “en banque” for the new church.

At the close of 1941 Father Berneche noted that it had been a banner year for Marriage ceremonies — the total number having doubled all preceeding years.

Part 4, 1942 -1947

After much consultation with the archdiocesan chancery, permission was granted in 1942 by the Cardinal to purchase a house for the Sisters of the Assumption who until then had been obliged to travel back and forth to the school from St. Louis Convent. During those years, parishioners purchased weekly passes for the Sisters who traveled by buy bus. Through the generosity of the parishioners they also were transported by privete cars whenever this was possible.

Father Berneche appealed to the parishioners of Ste-Marie’s to sacrifice one percent of their income to help swell the church building fund. As usual the response was gratifying.

On August 2, the altar in honor of Ste-Therese of the Child Jesus was solemnly dedicated to all the men of the parish who answered the call of duty and were serving the country in the armed forces. All their names were placed at the base of the statue, and special services were conducted for their safety.

The pastor called for a meeting with all the parents of the service men. He obtained their address and took time to write to everyone of them while they served during the War.

December 17, 1942 was a gilded-letter day in the history of Ste-Marie’s, as it marked the 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood of its pastor, Rev. Gustave Berneche, then in his 12th year as its spirital leader.

Due to the War, there was no midnight Mass as Christmas dawned in 1942.

The parishioners were saddened on July 27, 1943, when after 13 years of dedicated service to Ste-Marie’s as director and its first pastor, Father Berneche was stricken with paralysis and after having been confined to St. Joseph’s Hospital was transferred, at his own request, to the Oblate Novitiate in Colebrook, NH.

In August of the same year, after having served the parish since the pastor’s illness, Rev. Lucien Brassard, O.M.I., was named pastor, but continued his duties as director of St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

Father Brassard was feted by the parishioners at a musical and dramatic performance and presented with a purse. The widely known Oblate who became dean of the St-Jean-Baptiste Province of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate was honored June 16, 1981 at Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Church and hall on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the province and the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He served at Ste-Marie’s from 1943 to September 1, 1945, when he became pastor and superior of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes parish in Lowell.

Rev. George Lessard, O.M.I., curate of St. Peter’s parish in Plattsburgh, NY, was assigned to succeed Fr. Brassard that same day and his first task was to make arrangements for a temporary four-room residence in a two-family building. The same day the Sisters took over their new convent, the former rectory on Grafton Street. The four sisters were obliged to teach eight grades.

Listed among Father Lessard’s many entries for October 1, is one which goes as follows:

“Today I was successful in having a telephone installed. Until now I was obliged to depend on the neighbors to take my calls and make mine from their homes.”

During his first year as pastor, Fr. Lessard was helped to raise necessary funds by dedicated parishioners who sponsored whist parties, raffles, bazaars, suppers, and who even gave several hours of their time to paint, clean and repair everything they could of the church property to save the parish the expense of having it done by contractors.

Father Brassard returned to the parish in December to take over during Father Lessard’s illness and insisted that he accept the hospitality of his rectory in Notre-Dame-de-Lourde’s parish to recuperate. He accepted and remained there till March 1st.

Devotions and fund-raising activities multiplied in 1946 when the perpetual novena of the Miraculous Medal was initiated into the parish as were several other services.

Efforts to complete a rectory for this pastor were crowned with success when Father Lessard moved into a two-room house adjoining the church in December of 1946.

Membership in the various church organizations for men, women and children increased considerably in 1947 and all generously and enthusiastically lent their cooperation and support to the pastor in his never-ending multi-faceted efforts for the spiritual and material growth and development of Ste-Marie’s parish.

Part 5, 1951-1963 (Back to top)

In 1951, Rev. Victor Alexander, O.M.I., succeeded Father Lessard and served as pastor for 12 years. To him is credited much of the initial planning for the new church which was built on Chamberlain Street and dedicated in 1966.

During the course of his pastorate, Father Alexander was on several occasions, when duty called him elsewhere, temporarily replaced by brother Oblates, such as Rev. Joseph Debergh, Rev. Paul Mayrand, and Rev. Joseph Juaire. Other Oblates who served the parish at various times were Rev. Roland Couture, Rev. Narcisse Cotnoir, Rev. Aldor Boisvert and Rev. Charles Dozois.

After a series of complications and tireless, renewed endeavors, Father Alexander obtained required permission from the authorities of the Archdiocese of Boston and of the Oblate Province to go along with long-range plans to purchase a family home on Chamberlain Street instead of building a new rectory. The pastor moved in on October 18, 1957.

In February of 1958, Ste-Marie’s had 165 families and 658 parishioners. Parish activities were numerous and included the whole gamut of social and fund-raising events geared to paying off the debt on the rectory and swelling the new church building fund, as well as keeping abreast with the expenses of providing parishioners with a parochial school.

The construction of the fires confessional in Ste-Marie’s was due to the dedication and expert workmanship of Brother Joseph Viotette, O.M.I., who completed this task in March of 1958.

The Parish observed the silver jubilee of ordination to the priesthood of its pastor in both a religious and social celebration on June 22, 1958.

A mammoth parish fair netted $1100 in July and this was followed by many other fund-raising events during the remainder of the year, which was recorded as one during which numerous improvements were made in all the parish property.

Father Debergh’s influence on the parishioners resulted in a wonderful presentation of the Apparitions of the Blessed Mother to the children of Beauraign by the school children in February of 1959. Wherever he was assigned, Fr. Debergh always tried to promote devotion to Our Lady of Beauraign, a devotion dear to his heart as an Oblate and as a Belgian.

In 1960 Father Alexander called upon his parishioners to rally or lose some of the parish property for which parishioners before them had made such great sacrifice to acquire. This was the year overshadowed by the threat of not only transition, but the radical changes to be forced on Ste-Marie’s parish by a highway, which if realized according to plans, would demolish everything in its path and divide what remained of the parish structures.

It was in June, 1961, after the visits to the Chancery and to the Provincial House of the Sisters of the Assumption, in several fruitless attempts to have the Sisters remain at Ste-Marie’s, that Father Alexander was obliged to abide by their decision and leave the school, which was closed June 16, and on June 30, the parish said farewell to the Sisters who had served it as teachers for the past 30 years.

On September 5, in less than one half hour Ste-Marie’s School was completely demolished by a massive bulldozer in an operative ordered by the State. In his account of this sad day in the history of the Parish, Fr. Alexander wrote, “It is not without regret and heart-felt emotion that I witnessed this memorable building condemned to demolition in 1908, finally give way to the repeated blows of state machinery, after having been of service to a grateful parish for almost half a century.”

The parish was threatened by disruption and just about to experience the full impact of Eminent Domain in 1962. The blow to be dealt in the name of progress was met head-on by Father Alexander, who again fearlessly voiced his objection in his own, and in the names of his parishioners. In no uncertain terms Father Alexander let representatives in government know that he felt that taking the church property in the name of progress, in this case, the construction of highway 495, in the way the state was doing this, was morally wrong and a grave injustice to the people of South Lowell.

Father Alexander stressed that he and his parishioners believe in progress and in the right of Eminent Domain, but Eminent Domain with justice. He said one must not stand in the path of progress, but, progress must not leave victims in its wake.

All through the first half of the year the question of Highway 495 infringing on Ste-Marie’s rights was a thorn in the hearts of the pastor and his parishioners, but after much correspondence, legal procedures and court action, on July 28, 1962 the jury brought in a verdict that the sum of %58,000 plus interest on that sum from the date of the taking, be paid by the State to Ste-Marie’s parish for compensation and damages resulting from the seizure by the state of Ste-Marie’s School.

In his account of the happenings in the parish during his term as pastor, Father Alexander wrote that by a happy coincidence the Forty Hours devotions opened in the parish on July 26, the very same day that the verdict was reached in favor of the parish. “A more opportune time could never have been offered to the parishioners to appeal to Our Eucharist Lord for the help they needed, and to thank Him for the favorable outcome of the trial,” he wrote.

In August of 1963, after having served as pastor for 12 years, during which he met the challenges of change in so many ways and during which time he lead parishioners in the celebration of Ste-Marie’s silver jubilee and worked relentlessly to foster the growth and development of this parish, Father Alexander was assigned to D’Youville Manor as chaplain.

Rev. Andre Payette, O.M.I., who had just returned following 20 years of chaplain service in the U.S. Army, was named to succeed Father Alexander and continue the work he had already begun, to erect a new Ste-Marie’s Church on Chamberlain Street.

Part 6, 1965 – 1981

Father Payette launched a church building campaign with a minimum goal of $75,000 on February 22, 1965 with the blessing and approval of Richard Cardinal Cushing and provincial authorities.

Designed by the Architects’ Group of Boston, the new church was to be constructed in conformity with the new changes in the Liturgy of the Church and was designed to seat 400. The exterior was planned to be of brick, with white trim and the approximate cost of the new church and parish hall was set at $250,000. Parishioners paid their pledged contributions over a period of 36 months.

On Sunday, October 30, Most Rev. Thomas J. Riley, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, officiated at the dedication of beautiful new Ste. Marie’s church, the consecration of its altar stone, and the blessing of its cornerstone, the statue of Our Lady on the grounds in front of the church, and of the parish hall.

The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that stands in front of the church is the artistic creation of a parishioner, Mr. Placide Deveau, who spent many hours in a labor of love and detailed workmanship to produce this masterpiece of art and beauty. His labor, his talent, and the total expense of creating this beautiful statue in tribute to the Blessed Mother stand as Mr. Deveau’s personal gift to the church he loved.

Father Payette, O.M.I., in 1963, gave a new momentum to the parish school of religion by inviting the seminarians from the Oblate Fathers’ Scholasticate in Natick, Mass., to staff the CCD faculty. These dedicated young men traveled faithfully every week until Father Payette’s death in 1976. The dedication of the parishioners providing transportation, all these years, should also be recognized and commended.

Ten years later, on February 23, 1976, Father Payette was called to his eternal reward. On February 25, Rev. Robert Morin, who had assisted him during his last month at the parish, presided at a Bible Vigil in the church where hundreds of parishioners paid a prayerful tribute to their pastor. The next morning, Most Rev. Joseph Ruocco, D.D., Bishop of the Lowell Region of the Archdiocese of Boston was the principal celebrant at the concelebrated Mass of the Resurrection. Provincial authorities, some fifty Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Father Morin and a large representation of the diocesan clergy were concelebrants.

Thought not too much has been recorded of Father Payette’s activities during his 13-years pastorate, he will be gratefully remembered for establishing Ste-Marie’s as a financially stable parish, for promoting the retreat movement, and for organizing and working with a group of dedicated lay people for the purpose of participating in the governing of the parish.

Rev. Adhemar Deveau, O.M.I., who had just completed his term as pastor of Ste-Jeanne D’Arc parish was named to succeed Father Payette as pastor and was officially introduced to the parishioners by Very Rev. Roger Roy, O.M.I., Provincial, at all the masses on Ash Wednesday. Bishop Ruocco, who concelebrated the 11 o’clock mass with him, officially installed him as pastor on March 3.

Among the first things the new pastor undertook was the setting up of a community room in the basement, and a walk-in bulkhead to that room which was later named the Friendship Room.

In September the pastor established a Senior Citizens association and invited the elderly, the disabled and the handicapped to join the organization, which he later named The Friendship Club.

In October, Father Deveau launched a Parish Support Program, formed a Bible Study Group and initiated prayer meetings in the parish.

Parishioners feted Father Deveau on June 12, 1977 in observance of his 25th anniversary of ordination.

After four years of dedicated service to Ste-Marie’s, Father Deveau announced, on June 29, 1980, that he would be leaving the parish to assume the duties of his new assignment as chaplain of D’Youville Manor.

On September 21, 1980, Rev. Romeo Murphy, O.M.I., became the seventh pastor of Ste-Marie’s parish and immediately began plans for the celebration of its golden jubilee as a parish. In October he called a meeting of all interested parishioners to formulate plans for the event scheduled for October 1981. Paul R. Ducharme was elected general chairman with Albert Stamp as assistant chairman and Mrs. Paul Ducharme, secretary.

To make the jubilee year a memorable one, Father Murphy and the committee planned a different kind of event for every month beginning with a memorial Mass for all deceased members of the clergy who had served the parish, as well as for all deceased parishioners. Following the Mass a breakfast was served in the parish hall and a pilgrimage was made to St-Joseph’s Cemetery.

The other monthly events included a Christmas Fair, a New Year’s Eve party and other gatherings each month. A family picnic was held in August and there was a Road Race in September.

Father Murphy sought the opportunity of the Jubilee Year to develop a greater spirit of parish unity and love among parishioners. Indeed all year long people of Sainte-Marie’s worked closely and marvelously well together to recreate in the community the old spirit of dedication of our forefathers upon which the parish was built.

Part 7, Present Day

As a result of reconfiguration within the Archdiocese of Boston it was announced, in early August 2004, that three parishes, originally French ethnic churches, were to be suppressed: St. Louis-de-France, Ste-Jeanne d’Arc and Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes. Also suppressed was Sacred Heart parish, which was administered by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

At Ste-Jeanne d’Arc the final Mass was celebrated on Sunday, August 30, 2004 and its parishioners are encouraged to become part of neighboring St. Rita’s parish. Ste-Jeanne d’Arc school continues to exist.

St-Louis-de-France church celebrated its final Mass as a parish on Wednesday evening, August 25, 2004, the feast day of its patron Saint. Its parishioners were encouraged to become part of the neighboring parish of St-Michael. On the weekend, a Saturday afternoon Mass and one on Sunday mornings will continue to be celebrated in the church under the auspices of Ste-Marguerite D’Youville parish in neighboring Dracut, MA. (Ste-Marguerite D’Youville Parish was founded in September 2001 when the parishes of Ste-Therese and St. Mary of the Assumption were merged.) St. Louis School will continue under the direction of St. Marguerite D’Youville parish.

Parishioners of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes attended their final Mass on Sunday, September 26, 2004.

In the early 2000s Ste-Marie continued to operate as a parish although there was no priest in residence and administration and pastoral duties were shared with Sacred Heart, also an Oblate parish. In 2004 it came as a surprise to many that Sacred Heart parish was suppressed and its parishioners were encouraged to become members of Ste-Marie’s Parish.