History of St. John, Swan Hills
HISTORY OF ST. JOHN, SWAN HILLS
In 1961, Fr. Connolly W. Poirier was the first priest to offer Mass in Swan Hills and the first baptism was celebrated on June 4, 1961. In 1961, Fr. Lucien Morrisette was appointed to Swan Hills and resided in Barrhead with Fr. Poirier. In the early days, services were held in homes. Fr. Morrisette offered Mass every Sunday in the school until the summer of 1970.
A meeting held on February 6, 1964, got people interested in constructing a church of their own. A lot was purchased in September 1965 for $1,500. A Building Fund was started and many gave generously. $2,000 was received from the Catholic Church Extension Society, Fr. Morrisette gave $500 from his allowance and the CWL gave $1,500. The Parish Council was formed in October 1970. In September 1971, the Building Fund had a total of $12,903. 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.
Fr. Adolph Terre was appointed pastor of St. Anne, Barrhead, with Swan Hills as its mission in 1970. Fr. Terre offered Mass at Swan Hills 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. During this year, parishioners moved and raised the altar to the front of the church.
In 1985, parishioners decided to have an addition to the existing facilities 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 CWL 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 of 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. St. Anne, Barrhead donated an outdoor storage shed.