ST. WILLIBRORD PARISH

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351 Willibrord Avenue, Verdun, Québec H4G 2T7 - Tel: (514) 769-9678 - Fax: (514) 761-1717

History

Once these streets of Verdun were farm fields with rich earth and yielding crops. In spring of 1913 Father Patrick McDonald, with a mandate from Archbishop Bruchesi to found a Parish for the English speaking Catholics west of the Tailrace which divided Verdun from Pointe St. Charles saw not simply farmland on the outskirts of Verdun, but a place on which to build the first (and, on the same tract ultimately, the present) St. Willibrord's church. From a small flat on Church Avenue near Ross Street, Father McDonald directed the beginnings of parish life. He celebrated Mass in the Brothers’ Hall of Academie Richard on Galt Avenue until the first church was built and so began a ministry to our forebears which would last the rest of his busy life.

The birth of “the Willibrord Spirit” seemed to come about even before the first church building was raised. Most of the first Parishioners were second generation Irish and British Catholics who had migrated to Verdun from Griffintown and Pointe St. Charles. Many were skilled in carpentry and masonry crafts, were good with their hands, and they volunteered their skills and talents in the building of the first Church. Participation and generosity were woven into the St. Willibrord fabric from the earliest days.

While Father McDonald led the way, the people of St. Willibrord’s were vitally involved in the structure and health of their parish from the very outset. The westward population growth saw Verdun expand rapidly through the nineteen twenties and St. Willibrord’s grew right along with it. By 1925 the dramatic increase in parish numbers necessitated plans for a larger church to accommodate the population expansion. These were days when families were large and parish life was central to the English-Catholic community.

In April of 1927 Father McDonald celebrated the first Mass in the new church. The total cost for the building was budgeted at $175,000 but there was a cost overrun and the ultimate bill came to $204,000.

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Original church building - interior