Our Lady of the Rosary
The history of the church in the western part of the Diocese of Victoria is indebted to the untiring efforts of Monsignor Joseph Leterme between 1923 and 1928. He established four churches, known as The Missions, all practically identical in size and structure, in areas that he considered to be well-populated residential centres. They were St. Francis Xavier in Otter Point; St. Rose of Lima in Sooke; St. Thomas in Metchosin; St. Margaret’s in Strawberry Vale; and St. Richard’s in Langford. When Msgr. Leterme retired in 1928, The Missions were served from the Cathedral until 1941. Fr. Theodore Guekers was appointed Pastor in 1941 with residence in Sooke. He remained less than two years, after which The Missions were again serviced by the Cathedral. On September 1, 1946, Fr. James Kennedy was appointed Parish Priest with residence in Langford. He remained in charge until January 1, 1951. Once again, The Missions reverted back to missions of the Cathedral until Fr. Willard O’Brien’s appointment as Parish Priest on June 24, 1951.
St. Richard’s Church was named for Sir Richard Scott of Ottawa, whose family donated money toward its construction. The church could accommodate approximately 55 people.
During the 1940s, the area experienced swift growth, and as a result the parish community was also growing in numbers. Shortly after Fr. O’Brien’s assignment, there was “standing room only” in both the small Sanctuary and Sacristy of St. Richard’s at both Masses every Sunday. Thanks to a donation from Fr. Alex MacLellan and the hard work of many parishioners, the new church, Our Lady of the Rosary, was completed and solemnly blessed December 4, 1955 by Bishop Hill. In 1956 the statue of Our Lady crafted by Rudy Soyfort was placed above the front entry.
Until 1961 all parish gatherings were held in the Small Hall, which was a former army hut purchased from war assets and moved onto the property by Fr. Kennedy. The building, now located at the rear of the church, is still in use today. When the need arose for a larger facility for recreational activities and larger gatherings, it was decided to construct what is now known as the “large hall” or Parish Centre. The building formally opened on January 26, 1964 with a blessing by Bishop Remi De Roo.
Fr. O’Brien remained the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary from its origin in 1955 until his retirement in July of 1982. His successor was Fr. Dan McCarthy who arrived in August of 1982 and remained until August of 1989. Msgr. Michael O’Connell was Fr. Dan’s successor in August of 1989 and remained until 1996; he came back to our Parish one more time from 2001 to 2003. Fr. Robert Pare replaced Fr. Mike in 1996 and was pastor to 1998. Also serving our Parish was Fr. Alex Heron from 1995 –1999. Fr. Ken Bernard was Pastor between 1998 and 2001. After Msgr. Mike O’Connell retired in 2003, Fr. Swavek Sciechowski SDS, came to our Parish and remained as pastor until 2008. His successor is Fr. Paul Szczur SDS, who arrived at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in August, 2008.
As we look back over the history of our Parish we can see the constant growth of our spiritual family. Many people have joined together, and still do, to worship our Lord, receive Sacraments and build a wonderful family. We all are part of this journey. Let us do our best to ensure that the faith in Our Merciful Lord be preserved and all our brothers and sisters be invited to join us on our way to our Heavenly Home.