History of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Burnaby

Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
– Blessed John Paul II

Our Lady of Mercy Parish began as an idea in 1941. Archbishop William Duke, D.D., of Vancouver, invited the Fathers of Mercy from New York to establish a parish that would serve Catholics in South Burnaby, the west end of New Westminster, and Queensborough. Three priests came from New York to carry out this task. Father Henry Hall S.P.M. became the first pastor of the new parish, accompanied by assistants Father Edward Malaysters S.P.M. , and Father Julian Burt S.P.M.
At that time, the land where our church and school now stand was just swampy ground with a small stream, so Fathers’ Henry hall, Julian Burt, and Edward Malayter found living quarters elsewhere in the area. Masses were celebrated in St Genevieve School in New Westminster.
When Fr. Charles Lacey took over as pastor, the land for the parish was purchased. On the corner of 10th Avenue and Kingsway stood a huge house, built in 1892 by a member of Burnaby’s first city council. The house was renovated as the rectory. In 1942, the parish applied for licence to build a church. Because of shortages during the war, only a small “basement church”- a basement church with a roof was built.
Wartime conditions delayed construction of the parish church, thus the present basement church was not completed until 1944 at which time the rectory also underwent remodelling. It was blessed on October 15, 1944.
It is in respect to the new construction plans for Our Lady of Mercy church and rectory that this memorial drawing has been produced.

Our Lady of Mercy Church pre 1960

Our Lady of Mercy Church circa 1986

In September 1959, Our Lady of Mercy School was opened. The Fathers of Mercy returned to New York in 1960, and OLM became a diocesan parish.
Fr. Gordon McKinnon celebrated the last Mass in the old church on Thanksgiving Day, 1986. By November that year, the church rectory had been demolished, and work had begun on the new structure. While our present church was being built, Sunday Mass was celebrated in the school gym and weekday Masses at the St Thomas More students’ chapel. The new church was blessed on June 20th, 1987.

During the early years, the Holy Name Society and the Altar Society organized parish activities and fundraising projects.

Since then, other organizations, such as the Catholic Women’s League, the Knights of Columbus and the Legion of Mary, have formed chapters at OLM. Father_Nicolas_TumbelakaFor many years, our parish and school life was also enriched by the presence of the Sisters of Charity of Providence and the Sisters of Mercy.
In recent years, more and more people have moved into the parish. Today, OLM is a community of approximately 1200 families. We come together for weekday and Sunday Mass and to participate in a variety of parish groups and activities, such as the choir, Children’s Liturgy program, Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, Parish Religious Education Program, Project ADVANCE, Mustard Seed Prayer Group, Parent/Teacher Association, parish picnics, Fall fairs, Pancake breakfasts and others.We face the new millennium with hope and look forward to the continued growth of our parish and school community, with our current pastor,Fr. Nicolas Tumbelaka