When one looks at the now densely-populated north-west end of Halifax, it is hard to believe that this growth has taken place in just over a quarter of a century.
In the years preceding World War II there were comparatively few homes in this section of the city. Trees and bushes grew in abundance, and animals grazed in fields now covered by concrete sidewalks.
The few Catholics who inhabited this area sent their children (on foot or by bicycle) to Oxford St. School, and attended Mass at St. Agnes or St. Joseph's. After 1931, some went to the new St. Theresa's.
World War II brought a great influx of people to Halifax and soon the need for housing became acute. To meet this need, people began to look beyond the generally accepted boundaries of the City, and lots were purchased and homes built in the fast developing north-west end. A number of the new homes were prefabs because of wartime shortages of manpower and materials.
It was natural that many of the owners of the new homes were Catholics, and it could reasonably be expected that even more Catholics would move to this section, so thoughts were turned to the establishment of a new church.
In 1948, Archbishop John T. McNally established the parish community of St. Catherine of Siena.
FIRST MASS CELEBRATED
On February 15, 1948, with Reverend Frank Carroll as Pastor, the first Mass was celebrated by the newly formed parish of St. Catherine of Siena at the military barracks on the corner of Oxford and Bayers Road (where the RCMP building now stands).
WHY THE NAME "ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA"?
On a trip to Rome, Father Carroll had celebrated Mass over the tomb or at a shrine in honor of St. Catherine of Siena. It was he who then requested permission to have our new parish named after this remarkable woman.
Property was acquired on Bayers Road and in 1950 permission was given to start building a Church. The sod was turned for the new church property on November 5th, 1950.
THE NEED FOR A RECTORY
In 1948, our Pastor, Father Carroll lived in Mrs. Ann Hurley's house who had a large home where the present Rectory now stands. This large home used to be a convolescent home, called "Hurley's Rest" or the "Infirmary". Mrs. Hurley used the upstairs, and rented the lower floor to Father Carroll for his living accommodations. Father Richard Murphy, our Assistant, lived in the attic of the Church (now used as the St. Vincent de Paul office). It was not until March 31, 1960, that bids were called for the construction of a Rectory.
A NEW HOME
On September 18, 1953, the Blessed Sacrament was taken in procession from the barracks to the parish's new home on Bayers Road.
NEW CHURCH BLESSED
On May 2, 1954, Archbishop Berry solemnly blessed the new church.