From Neighborhood to City-Parish
Holy Family Parish started out as a basement church in May 1926. The first pastor was Father Walsh. At first, the parish was founded in order to serve the Irish Catholic community of the Villeray district of Montreal. In the 1930s when Holy Family School was constructed, there was a natural link made between the school and the church. At the time, the school was not only attended by Irish Catholics, but also French Canadians, and many Italians who were immigrating to Montreal. From then, Holy Family’s scope changed as it was no longer a parish for the Irish, but for all English-speaking Catholics in the Villeray district.
Father Alex Carter, who was the pastor for a while, eventually became a bishop. He started the music tradition by forming a men’s and boy’s choir. Father Sutton succeeded Father Carter as pastor and one of his biggest contributions was moving Holy Family from the basement to its own building in 1968. This new building across the street from Holy Family School had a hall big enough for sports, which was the kick-off for the youth programs. Father John Baxter succeeded Father Sutton after his death in 1972. By this time, the church was in full swing with one hundred youths in the sports program and a strong neighborhood.
The strong neighborhood continued until about the mid-eighties. At that point, demographics affected Holy Family Parish. With the English-speaking community moving out of the neighborhood, it meant the closing of Holy Family School and a decrease in weekly attendance. Holy Family went from a neighborhood parish to a city parish. Parishioners were no longer from close by but were coming from all parts of Montreal.