St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Parish Blog.

Fort Providence Mission Church: Then and Now

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Originally, Old Fort Providence was a supply centre operated by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) in 1823. This trading centre brought lots of people to the area.  Present day Providence was chosen as a mission site in the early 1860s by Roman Catholic Oblate Bishop Grandin. They were in steady competition with the Anglican Church.

This present day community of Fort Providence is located on the banks of the mighty Mackenzie River. The translation of its slavey name is 'mission house'. It became established by missionaries when an orphanage and mission were started by the Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns of Montreal) in 1867. Through the work, spread the Gospel according to the RC church.

The community grew around the mission school and a large farm. Both are long gone, but what remains is a fine old church. Our Lady of Fort Providence church is a major landmark situated on the bank of the river and widely photographed.



Locally, it is simply known as 'the big church'! It is used throughout the warm months for mass and all ministry gatherings. Fellowship is hosted outside where delicious bannock and tea are enjoyed along with the beautiful views of the river flowing by.  No timbits and coffee here!

The big church is astronomically expensive to heat through the entire winter.  With the St. Philip Neri donation from 2012, the faith community was able to purchase fuel (propane) for Christmas mass and the numerous funerals, many of them being for elders.

With temperatures changing, it was Parish Council's decision to move this Sunday's mass to 'the small church'.  This church was the one the 2012 youth mission stained and painted. It was a project that is still talked about by the community to this day.  As I sit here writing and looking out the rectory window, I glance over at the steeple, and am most appreciative that Randy does not have to rebuild the scaffolding for me to climb up there and repaint it. This year the work has moved inside the small church and we have been working up a storm!

Nightly mass is held here at 7:00 pm when Fr. Wes is in residence.  He lets the community know by ringing the church bell at 6:30 pm for five minutes.

Parish Mission ~ your Servants in Christ Randy & Debra

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Guest September 21, 2018

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