Our Lady of Victory - Brief History

In the 1920's the priests from Kuper Island visited Gabriola Island and offered Mass at private homes.  In 1925 the Demontfor Fathers undertook to build a church under the direction of Fr. DeWeerts S.M.M..  The site was donated by John Silva, who had lived on Gabriola Island for forty years.  Silva also donated the logs to build the 40' x 20' church.  Dan McConvey donated his labours to build the church.  Mr. deLong donated money and the pews for the new church.

The Women's auxilary provided altar linens and other essentials for the celebration of the Mass.  Paintings, money and labor were donated by the Catholic community members on Gabriola Island.

In 1926 a half acre of land was formally purchased from John Silva for $1.00 and the Log Church had its home completed.

On Sunday, July 19th, the new Catholic mission-boat, "Maris Stella" (Star of the Sea), after the liturgical blessing, left on her maiden trip along the East coast of Vancouver Island.  On board was the Right Reverend Bishop O'Donnell, of Victoria.  Under a stiff north-westerly headwind, she gallantly cut her way through the waves in the direction of Gabriola Island, where a landing was made at 9am.

A new church had been erected at the south end of the island, and the object of the Bishop's visit was to bless and open the new building.  In the presence of the Catholic population of the island, his lordship read the prayers of the blessing, sprinkled the walls both inside and outside with Holy Water, knelt at the foot of the altar to recite the litanies of the saints and blessed the tabernacle, after which the church and the altar were dedicated to the service of God.  The Bishop afterwards offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, during which the choir sang appropriate hymns.  After reading the Epistle and Gospel of the Sunday, the Bishop congratulated the people of Gabriola on their new church and thanked them for their generosity in the matter.  After mentioning the advantages of the building material, he went on to show the great benefits of the Catholic Church and her influence on the life of her true members.  During the Bishop's Mass six children approached the Holy table and received, for the first time, Holy Communion.  They also received afterwards from the hand of the Bishop the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The new church at Gabriola Island is 40 feet long and 20 feet wide.  It is built of logs and fits perfectly in the surroundings.  It is not only a solid building, but very pleasing to the eye, the right church for the place.

The generosity of the Women's Auxiliary of the Catholic Canadian Extension Society, together with the support and active help of the Catholics of Gabriola Island, made the building of the church possible.  The same Society also furnished the altar linen and other necessary articles for the celebration of Holy Mass.

The site of the church and the logs used for the building were given by Mr. John Silva, a 40 year resident of the island.  Mr. Dan McConvey undertook the building of the church, giving his own work gratuitously.



Our Lady of Victory Church as it appears today

gabriola island church

The Sunday Mass of July 10, 2005 attracted a full attendance as the re-dedication of "Our Lady of Victory Mission" Roman Catholic Church, took place during Mass.  This occasion was planned by the Parish Priest in recognition and celebration of the 80th year since the "little log church" had been built.  The Celebrant was the Most Reverend Bishop Richard Gagnon, who was here especially for this historic occasion.  The Concelebrant was Reverend Dariusz Zarebski, SDS, the Parish Priest of St. Peter's in Nanaimo.  The congregation had spent effort, time and personal resources in refurbishing the Church and its grounds for some time. 

At the beginning of the Mass, the Most Reverend Bishop Richard Gagnon re-dedicated the church, sprinkling the walls, the congregation and the Tabernacle with Holy Water, a symbol of the Sacrament of Baptism.  Before the Offertory, the Bishop blessed the altar, which had remained bare, and was then draped with linen and prepared for the Celebration of the Eucharist.  At the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop led the congregation singing "Immaculate Mary" to the grotto, which he blessed with Holy Water from Lourdes.  Bishop Gagnon applauded the efforts of the congregation and hoped that the newly constructed gardens and symbols would attract many people as a place for mediation and prayer.

The Parish Priest from St. Peter's faithfully comes to the Island every Sunday for the Celebration of the Mass at 2:30pm, as well as on Holy Days of Obligation.  The Rosary is recited before Mass; Confessions are heard every Sunday before Mass; and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is held the first Friday of each month from 2-3pm.


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