Fr. Leon Fouquet OMI the founder of the Parish and a Professor of Theology arrived in 1860 and after two months of searching in the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan chose New Westminster for a site for a new mission, with Hope as an outpost.   In 1934, after the old church on Blackwood Street was badly damaged by a gale in October, St. Patrick Hall (later Dontenwill Hall) was used as a church.   The first Mass was celebrated in the new church on 4th Street and Royal Avenue on Palm Sunday April 2nd 1939.   Since the arrival in 1860 of Fr. Fouquet, many Oblate priests and brothers have faithfully served the parish as pastors, chaplains, teachers, counsellors, sacristans, builders, plumbers, bookkeepers, cooks and gardeners.

We remain today under the spiritual direction of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The following is a list of our Parish staff:

Pastor: Fr. Nick Meisl

Baptisms: A Baptismal Preparation Program must be taken before the baptism of a child. When the program is completed, a time for baptism will be arranged. For more information, please call the Parish Office.

Marriage: Please contact the Parish Office prior to setting the date for your wedding. A Marriage Preparation Course is mandatory. These courses take place from September to June. Please see the brochures in the foyer of the church.

Facebook: Get in the conversation by joining our Parish Facebook Group here.

St. Peter’s Parish:  A Brief History

1.  1860 – 1910:  Foundation and Early Days.   

The first permanent mission in New Westminster was established in 1860.  Prior to that time, various Catholic missionaries had passed through the area.  Already in 1841, Father Modeste Demers, a secular priest, spent a week in Fort Langley and several months in the Cariboo.  Father Demers became the first bishop of Victoria from 1847 to 1871.      The Oblates of Mary Immaculate came to New Westminster in 1860.  The Oblates were a religious order in the Catholic Church as many other orders like the Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits.  The founder of the Oblates was a French priest Eugene de Mazenod who founded the Oblates along with several other priests in Aix in southern France on January 25, 1816.  They were formally approved by Pope Leo XII on February 17, 1826.  The first Oblates preached parish missions in southern France. Eugene de Mazenod was Bishop of Marseille from 1837 until his death in 1861.  He was canonized a saint by Saint John Paul II on December 3, 1995. As the number of the Oblates was increasing in the 1840s, Bishop de Mazenod sent Oblate missionaries, priests and brothers, in all directions to England, Eastern Canada, the Red River region in present day Manitoba, Texas, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), South Africa and Oregon.  Several Oblates arrived in Oregon in 1847.  They worked there until the late 1850s when they began to move north to British Columbia.  The first Oblate mission was founded in Esquimalt in 1858 followed by the Okanagan mission near present day Kelowna in 1859. In 1860 the Oblates founded the mission in New Westminster which was the beginning of what would become St. Peter’s parish.  New Westminster was the capital of the territory of British Columbia.  The first Oblate missionaries came from France.  Later they were joined by other Oblates from Eastern Canada and Ireland. The first “pastor” of the mission was Father Leon Fouquet who arrived with Father Grandidier, Brother Blanchet and Brother Janin.  New Westminster was a new town.  The Methodists had built a church in 1858 and the Anglicans followed in 1859.  In 1861 two Catholic churches were built, one for the First Nations people which was called St. Charles at what is now the corner of Agnes and Blackwood Streets, and the other which was dedicated to St. Peter for the white people at Columbia and Blackwood.  It seems strange to us today that there were two churches; the First Nations people needed a separate church where they could remain for days and weeks at a time as they prayed and learned together. The Oblate mission which included the two churches, was called St. Charles Mission.  From New Westminster the missionaries ministered to people in present day Hope, Mission and North Vancouver.  The mission included about 5,000 First Nations people and 200 white Catholics.  It was the headquarters for the Oblates on the Mainland. The first years were a time of growth.  The Sisters of St. Anne, who had come to Victoria in 1858 from Lachine, Quebec, arrived in New Westminster in 1865.  They opened a school for girls, St. Ann’s Academy, in the same year.  In 1877 they built a new and better school.  In 1866, the Oblates opened St. Louis College, a school for boys which continued until 1917.  The Sisters of St. Ann operated many hospitals and schools in British Columbia. In 1864 Father Louis-Joseph D’Herbomez, OMI was named bishop of mainland British Columbia.  St. Peter’s Church became the cathedral which was replaced by a larger structure in 1883.  Oblate missionaries were going north to Williams Lake, Prince Rupert, Prince George and to the Yukon in their ministry.  They also had missions to the east in Kamloops, the Kelowna and Cranbrook areas.  When Bishop D’Herbomez died in 1890, he was succeeded by Bishop Paul Durieu, OMI until 1899.  By this time British Columbia, which became the sixth Canadian Province in 1871, was booming. In 1886 the Sisters of Providence arrived in New Westminster.  They built St. Mary’s Hospital which accommodated 42 patients.  The Hospital was enlarged several times.  It served New Westminster for over a century until unfortunately it was closed in 2004. In 1899 Bishop Durieu was succeeded by Bishop Augustine Dontenwill, OMI, who was bishop from 1899 to 1908 when the seat of the Diocese moved to Vancouver.  Neill McNeill, a diocesan priest, became the Archbishop of the New Archdiocese of Vancouver in 1908.  This was a major change and the end of an era for St. Peter’s Parish.

2.  1910 – 1960:  Expansion and New Growth. 

St. Peter’s Parish continued to grow in the early 1900s.  The period from 1914 to 1918 during World War I was a difficult time as well as the 1930s after the stock market crash in 1929.  In 1934 St. Peter’s Church on Columbia and Blackwood which had been built in 1883 was damaged by a windstorm.  It could not be repaired and so the present church was built and blessed in 1939.  Dontenwill Hall was built in 1938. The Knights of Columbus began in the parish in 1907 and the Catholic Women’s League began in 1923.  There were other groups for spiritual activities as well as groups for young people such as the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) which began in 1941 and lasted until 1970.  Several Oblate priests and brothers served in the parish, the college and school, the hospital, the orphanage and the prison.  One of them Brother Joe Betancourt served the parish for 58 years!  In 1954 the new St. Peter’s School was built.  It served until 1976 when it closed due to lack of students.  St. Ann’s Academy closed in 1968 for the same reason.  Over the years the Sisters of St. Ann had educated over 15,000 students.  The new rectory was built in 1954.3.

3.  1960 – Present:  Vatican II and the New Century.

1960s was an exciting decade.  These years were the highpoint of the parish in terms of numbers and activities. There were many young people and young families.  This included many dances, games, bingos and meals at Dontenwill Hall.  A  number of young people met their prospective spouses at these events.  In the 1950s and 1960s there were around 110 baptisms in the Parish each year. These were the years of the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965 as well as the years after the Council. The 60s and 70s were years of new vision, hope and energy.  In 1969 the renewed and reformed liturgical rites were introduced beginning with the Mass, the lectionary and the liturgical year.  Liturgy was now in English and lay people were involved in various liturgical ministries as readers, communion ministers and other ministries. There were reformed sacramental rituals for the baptism of adults and infants, confirmation, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, marriage and funerals.  The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) began in St. Peter’s in 1986.  Lay people were more involved not only in liturgy but also in many other ministries and activities of the parish such as the senior’s Young at Heart which began in 1986, St. Vincent de Paul to help the poor and needy people, various forms of social justice ministry, refugee sponsorship, several spiritual action and prayer groups, and Bible Study. This was also a time of new ecumenical openness with members of other Churches: Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists and the United Church of Canada.  We work together and we learn together and socialize as pastors and as members of the various congregations.  One high point is the Annual Prayer for Christian Unity and the Lenten Lecture Series.   For years we felt the need for a new hall and parish center (offices and meeting rooms) by the church.  The parish center and hall finally opened in August 7, 2007.  The parish continues to grow.  We have new members, especially from Asia, Africa and Latin America.  We are thankful to the Lord for the good times in which we are living.

St. Peter’s Oblate Pastors 1860 – Present

  • Fr. Leon Fouquet (1860-1867)
  • Fr. Edward Horris (1867-1882)
  • Fr. James McGuckin (1882-1889)
  • Fr. Frederic Guertin (1889-1890)
  • Fr. Norbert Ouellette (1890-1896)
  • Fr. Joseph Morgan (1896-1900)
  • Fr. Emile Bunoz (1900-1902)
  • Fr. John O’Neill (1902-1906)
  • Fr. William O’Boyle (1906-1913)
  • Fr. Felix Beck (1913-1922)
  • Fr. J.B. Salles (1922-1926)
  • Fr. Stephen Murphy (1926-1932)
  • Fr. Bartholomea Kennedy (1932-1933)
  • Fr. Daniel McCullough (1933-1937)
  • Fr. William Loftus (1937-1943)
  • Fr. P. J. Phelan (1943-1949)
  • Fr. Louis Keighley (1949-1953)
  • Fr. Leonard Sweeney (1953-1955)
  • Fr. William Malloy (1955-1961)
  • Fr. John Hennessy (1961-1967)
  • Fr. Anthony MacDonald (1967-1968)
  • Fr. R. Griffin (1968-1971)
  • Fr. Gerald Dunlop (1971-1974)
  • Fr. John McCann (1974-1981)
  • Fr. Oliver Mohan (1981-1987)
  • Fr. Bruce McCormick (1987-1989)
  • Fr. William MacDonald (1989-1996)
  • Fr. Jim Jordan (1996-2005)
  • Fr. Martin Moser (2005-2020)
  • Fr. Jack Herklotz (2020-Present)

Parish Statistics:  2020

  • Families – 719
  • Contributors – 627
  • Baptisms – 30
  • First Communion – 23
  • Marriages – 1
  • Deaths – 13