History of St. John, Swan Hills
Fr. Poirier was the first priest to offer Mass in Swan Hills. The first baptism he performed was on June 4, 1961.
In 1961, Fr. Lucien Morissette was appointed to Swan Hills and resided in Barrhead with Fr. Poirier. In the very early days, services were held in homes. Fr. Morissette offered Massevery Sunday in the school until the summer of 1970. Then Fr. Terre was named pastor. A Diocesan allowance of $50 a month was received to cover the pastor’s traveling expenses until 1965.
A meeting held on February 6, 1964, got people interested in constructing a church of their own. A Building Fund was started and many gave generously. $2,000 was received from the Catholic Church Extension Society, Fr. Morissette gave $500 from his allowance and the CWL gave $1,500. In September 1971, the Building Fund had a total of $12,903. The lot was purchased in September 1965 for $1,500. The Parish Council was formed in October 1970. Tenders and plans were obtained and discussed until July 1971 when construction of the church began.
The first Mass in the new church was offered on Christmas Eve 1971. Bishop Roy consecrated the church on October 22, 1972. Originally, a metal cross, made and donated by a non-catholic welder in Swan Hills, adorned the side of the church, demonstrating the uniqueness of Swan Hills; it doesn’t matter what religious denomination you belong to, they all work together and are friends. The church brings all people together.
From the summer of 1970, the priest offered mass approximately every second Sunday. In October 1973, weekly Sunday service was resumed. Around 1976, parishioners began raising funds to carpet the church and the CWL hosted many pancake suppers. The most memorable dish donated was a roaster of perfectly green scrambled eggs! They had been covered with tinfoil, causing a chemical reaction that produced perfectly green eggs. During this year, parishioners moved and raised the altar to the front of the church.
In 1985, parishioners decided they needed an addition and once again started fund raising. This time the CWL donated $10,000. A new entrance with a kitchen and two bathrooms was added, and the previous area was renovated to become a sacristy. They also added a parking lot to the west of the church.
In 2002, more fund raising was done for a new carpet, shingles, fresh paint and a church bell. Fr. Leon Desjardin donated a church bell. With many of the men who had been active in the pastoral council gone from Swan Hills, the DWL took on the renovation job. Fr. John Adamyk organized the installation of the new furnace. They painted the interior, picked up the old shingles, organized the removal of the old carpet, and donated new windows, which are painted with religious scenes.
On October 4, 2003 they had the church bell and tower blessed at the 40th anniversary for the CWL. People in Swan Hills really enjoy hearing the bell ring. The parish has a lighted Nativity scene on the lawn at Christmas time.
New stations of the cross were erected and the renovation of the washroom was completed. Barrhead donated an outdoor storage shed with the help of Fr. Paul Thekannath.
Masses at St. John
Mass is being said each Sunday at 1 p.m.