Holy Family Parish was created July 9, 2006, by Bishop Ronald Fabbro, embracing the former clustered parishes of St. Joseph’s and St. Pius X. We now are the spiritual home for more than 3,100 families and individuals, making us one of the largest in the London Diocese. More than 600 of our parishioners are active in various ministries.
(The following information is taken from the Parish 50th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet.)
In the year 1950, the western portion of St. Peter's Parish became the newly formulated parish of St. Joseph's. London West had begun to expand and in this area there were located a substantial number of Catholics who assisted the chancery in the search for a temporary building which would serve as a Church. Arrangements were made with the London and Middlesex Separate School Board to use the old St. Joseph's School on Wilson Avenue as a temporary center for the celebration of Eucharistic liturgies.
Within a short time a considerable parish community had been established and in September, 1951 the School Board agreed to sell some land, which could be used as a site for the Church and Rectory complex. Reverend Roy Cassin was appointed the first pastor and on Sunday, November 4, 1951, the first sod was turned for the new building. Thus St. Joseph's Church was built in 1952 to serve the population of mostly young families, and the adjacent St. Joseph's Elementary School, which followed in 1954. Gradually however, parish structure began to change.
By the end of April, 1952, the structure was almost completed. The first Mass was offered on Sunday, May 4, 1952. Bishop Cody blessed the Church on September 9, 1952. In the first year of its existence, 190 families, many of them young families, were registered in the parish and there were also 10 baptisms, 5 marriages and one funeral.
In 1952 Father Danielius became Father Cassin's associate priest. In June, 1958, Reverend Simon White and Reverend John Winter were assigned to St. Joseph's as parish clergy. The parish at this time was planning a building fund for a new church as well as the retirement of the $56,500 original debt of the parish (such a new church would never be built).
In June, 1961, Reverend Paul Milne and Reverend Michael Langan were assigned as priests to St.J oseph's Parish. At that time 524 families lived in the parish and its registers recorded 118 baptisms, 19 marriages and 8 funerals.
On June 15, 1965, Most Reverend G. E. Carter decided to divide St. Joseph's and the new section of the original parish became known as St. Pius X Parish. After this division St. Joseph's was left with some 262 families. In October, 1966, Reverend William Cooney was assigned as the new pastor of St. Joseph's with Reverend Paul Schiller as his associate.
In June, 1969, Reverend John Graham became the fifth pastor of the parish and in two years he had managed to raise the needed funds to renovate the exterior of the church structure. Father Graham was succeeded by Reverend William McKenna. In September, 1974 Reverend Donald McMaster became the new pastor of St. Joseph's. After an initial meeting with the Parish Advisory Group, it was decided that both the rectory and the church needed a complete rejuvenation.
In 1975, it was decided that the vinyl floor tiles in the body of the church should be replaced and a redesign of the vestibule area, bulletin boards, as well as the new confessional room were completed. In July, 1976, we began our preparations for our 25th Anniversary and the sanctuary was redesigned.
With children growing up and no new families moving into the area, during the late '70's and early 80's, St. Joseph's Parish consisted mostly of middle-aged and senior residents.
In 1983 the school was closed and turned into a Continuing Education Centre. Although it would again function as a Catholic school, first as a starter high school for St. Thomas Aquinas, and then as a countywide French Immersion Centre, it would never again be a district parochial school. Never again would St. Joseph's Parish have a local district Catholic elementary school associated with its direct pastoral oversight.
One parishioner reports that in May, 1986, when Father Jim Williams became pastor, 160 faithful attended his first Mass and there was not one child among them. For a time the number of parishioners kept decreasing.
In the late 1980's and early 1990's there was a significant jump in the population of the parish. This can be attributed to many factors. The engaging personality, preaching and leadership ability of Father Williams was a major factor. He placed his emphasis on the parish as cultivating a welcoming, smaller more intimate and "family" atmosphere, and a characteristic, which the parishioners value to this day. Further, he built a significant pastoral staff to meet the needs of the community, with an explicit concern for the seniors, sick and shut-ins, and for the youth of the parish. In 1989, a census within the parish boundaries was carried out which raised the number of registered parishioners to a degree, and brought some of the known but non-practicing members back to church.
The growth also reflected considerable change in the demographic structure of that part of the city. In this period, young families started to move into St. Joseph's Church area. Perhaps the depressed economic situation had something to do with it as people began to look for smaller, affordable homes as "starter" homes, retirement homes, and a desire to be closer to downtown, etc.
In 1989, major structural renovations were carried out and the physical plant remains in excellent condition to this day.
At the time of Father Williams' departure in June, 1996, the number of registered households had peaked around 625 and levelled off around 612. Over the coming years following his departure, there has been some decline in registered families: a few departed as Father Williams departed; several of the prominent seniors have died; some families have moved and some have sought other parishes. At the same time, a strong core of parishioners, under the leadership of Father Bob Wilson, have continued on through several staff transitions in the past two years, and there has been a modest but consistent pattern of new registrations, both of senior citizens and of young families. By 2002 there were 565 registered households.
in 2202 St. Joseph Parish joined with St. Pius X Parish to become Holy Family Parish.
On May 28, 1965, Fr. Paul Milne received the appointment as pastor for the new parish of St. Pius X parish from then Bishop G. Emmett Carter. The letter of appointment originally identified the parish as "Notre Dame Parish, Oakridge Acres". A subsequent letter identifying the parish boundaries specified the name "St. Pius X Parish". The official date for the beginning of the parish was set for June 25, 1965.
On June 26, 1965 the first mass was celebrated in the parish in the auditorium of Oakridge Secondary School. This location served as the parish chapel for over three years.
In October of 1965 a planning committee was established to begin the work of building the church. It wasn't until Dec. 6, 1967 that ground was broken on the Valetta St. site.
The first mass celebrated in the still unfinished building was the marriage mass of Cheryl Kennedy and James Lawrence Matthews on Oct. 5, 1968. The first Sunday mass celebrated in the church was on the Feast of Christ the King on Oct. 27, 1968.
The Solemn Blessing and Episcopal Visitation of St. Pius X church was held on Sunday, Dec. 15, 1968.
St. Pius X Parish was suppressed (closed) by Bishop Ronald Fabbro on July 8, 2006.