Prior to the 1960ís, all Catholics living in this area of Nepean were members of St. Augustine, a vast (and only) parish extending from St. Georges near Island Park Drive to St. Patrickís Fallowfield.
In the spring of 1963, Fr. Fredrick of St. Augustine announced at all the Masses that Archbishop Plourde had authorized the creation of a new parish to be called St. Maurice together with a satellite Chapel to be called St. Monica. Fr. Dorion was the designated pastor & administrator of both communities.
Consequently, all St. Augustine parishioners living west of Merivale Rd. & south of Baseline and parishioners residing east of Merivale Road & south of Viewmont then belonged to St. Maurice and St. Monica respectively. These changes became effective immediately!
Fr. Dorion was quick to organize a rather large committee whose first task was to find temporary facilities for worship in the short run while planning for the location and construction of two new churches.
It became evident early in its deliberations that the committee was comprised of two distinct grounds with different and distinct goals and sometimes with profound ideological differences. For example: the St. Maurice group felt that it was sacrilegious to have a parish hall attached in any way to the church. The St. Monica members felt that a parish hall must be an integral part of the plans if the new church was to be the religious, cultural & social centre of the community.
Archbishop Plourde, to his credit, realized that plans for St. Monica & St. Maurice had to proceed separately & he approved the formation of a St. Monica Committee comprised as follows:
Msgr. Lapierre – Pastor
Gus Klovan – Secretary/Treasurer
Sam MacDonald – Plant & Real Estate
Gerry Lafromboise – Administration
This committee, along with input from many parishioners, chose the site from several options, chose the architect and made all the plans for the financing & construction of the beautiful little church which we enjoy today. (Cost: $150,000.00). Immediately the committee was able to obtain the use of the auditorium of the Nepean Public School for masses in 1963. By 1964 St. Monicaís School, which consisted of only two small rooms completed a ëKindergartení room large enough to accommodate a Mass. Then, later in 1964 the St. Monica School auditorium was completed and it was our home until the new church became available in the spring of 1965.
Having very carefully selected the site for the new church we were taken aback by an unexpected surprise in the first autumn (1965) of our occupancy. This site had been for many years the location of Bakerís Turkey Ranch. During those many years the Turkeys had done a thorough job of fertilizing the grounds to saturation, making conditions ideal for breeding millions of flies. As the autumn weather cooled, the warmth of the church was an attraction and the building was inundated. On one occasion, sweeping the parish hall floor produced four large garbage cans of dead flies.
These flies, in turn, attracted a colony of bats and it was not unusual to have some of these critters flying around during Mass. It would be correct to say that at that time we did have bats in our belfry!
However, with the turkeys gone, mother nature with her magical powers soon restored and purified the soil so that it was no longer a friendly environment for insects.
From its earliest days St. Monica was under extreme financial pressures. The surveys, studies & projections which were made in 1963 before the church was built, proved to be not factual. The parish did not grow as fore cast and consequently our income did not grow as projected.
Housing construction came to a screeching halt in Country Place when the developer reneged on his commitments and the occupancy of some homes was delayed by 3, 4 and even 5 years. Also Barrhaven grew slower than anticipated. St. Monicaís treasury was inadequate. The parish could not honor its commitments to the Bank of Montreal which, financed the construction of the church.
As early as 1967 we were unable to make payments on capital & we were in arrears on interest payments. Then on July 1st of the same year a Tornado did $6,989.00 of damage to the roof of the church. The future looked bleak. Then came a surprise, a financial highlight of the year ñ a totally unsolicited gift of $5,000 from St. Augustine! We were saved!
By 1970 when interest rates doubled St. Monica almost collapsed. The parish was still not growing. However, again we were saved, this time by the archdiocese which generously cleared our obligations to the bank by arranging a loan form the Archbishops loan fund for parishes at a nominal rate. Our interest payments were reduced from $1,100.00 to $300.00 per month. This gracious act by the Archbishop was a turning point in the life of St. Monica. From then on it seems that providence smiled upon her. She was able to hold her own. She was able to take her rightful place in the Diocese. She was able to undertake charitable works for the poor etc.
In 1974 the parish launched its first Fair & Festival. This event, in its first year registered a profit of over $8,000. Then, for more than two decades it became a tradition in the community, contributing various amount of up to $20,000.00 to the general fund. This has enabled the parish to finance its own improvements to property & to finally provide living quarters and accommodations for its priests.
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of this remarkable little church, let us give thanks to all those good people for the contributions, dedication, support & hard work which they have given freely for the love of this church.
Let us also give thanks for the many priests we have enjoyed over these years. They were all sincere, compassionate pastors with priestly hearts dedicated to the service of God and his people.
And let us give thanks to almighty God for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.
by Gus Klovan
Pastors of St. Monica’s Parish
1964 – 1966 Msgr Alfred Lapierre
1966 – 1975 Fr. William Allen
1975 – 1976 Fr. Denis Coyle
1976 – 1977 Fr. Robert Jenkins
1978 – 1981 Fr. William Allen
1981 – 1986 Fr. H. Falke
1986 – 1987 Fr. John A. Wronski
1987 – 1994 Fr. Daniel Hawkins
1995 – 2000 Fr. Arthur Ockwood,
2000 – 2003 Fr. William Hunt,
2003 – 2005 Fr. Titus Egbueh (Acting Administrator),
2005 – 2008 Fr. Michael Browning,
2008 – 2009 Fr. Dan Dubroy (Acting Administrator),
2009 – 2013 Fr. Freely Muthukudarachchi,
2013–present Fr. Frank Brewer,