Happy Anniversary to us (well, our church building, actually)

Canadian Martyrs celebrates 60 years of worship at 100 Main St. Photo credit unknown.

By Greg Gertz

On May 18, 1953, Bishop Martin Lajeunesse O.M.I., Vicar Apostolic of Keewatin, blessed the cornerstone for a new Canadian Martyrs Parish church on Main Street in Ottawa.

On Christmas Eve that year, the first mass in the new church was celebrated at midnight. Last year marked the 60th anniversary of our spiritual home.

The parish of Canadian Martyrs was established in 1930, the same year the Holy Canadian Martyrs were canonized. From 1931 until 1953, parishioners worshipped in a small church on Main Street at Lees Avenue.

Over the years, as Ottawa grew, the congregation did as well. By 1950, it had become apparent a new building was needed. The Oblate Order provided a parcel of land adjoining what was then St. Patrick’s College, and the first sod for a new

church was turned in November 1952.

A highlight of the building, then as now, was the stained glass window over the main altar. A Dutch artist living in Montreal, Theo Lubbers, designed and produced the window, which showed the missionary martyrs grouped about Mary, Queen of the World. Lubbers also designed the building’s side windows, which depicted the Way of the Cross.

The pastor at the time of the move to the new church was Fr. Cornelius Herlihy. Since then, the parish has witnessed many solemn and joyful events presided over by a succession of capable pastors, including Fr. Donald Brennan, who oversaw changes to the Mass, the life of the parish, and the church building itself as a result of Vatican II in the ’60s.

The tenure of the late Fr. Laurie Conlon, which began in 1987, was particularly notable because he was born in Ottawa East and baptised at Holy Family Church (which gave birth to Canadian Martyrs parish when Holy Family was divided into two parishes in 1930). Conlon attended Canadian Martyrs School.

Today our church building rings with the sounds of our choir, our children, our pastor preaching and our parishioners worshiping. Let’s pause for a moment to thank those who went before us. Through their efforts we have this excellent sacred space, now and for many years to come.

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Filed in: Faith

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