St. Joseph Church, Derwent

The History of St. Joseph Church, Derwent, Alberta
Compiled and written by Marlane Noster, 2010

In 1917, St. Mary Visitation Cemetery was established on a portion of land donated by John Noster, one mile from Derwent, along what is now Highway 45.  Two years later, St. Mary’s Cemetery was established on a portion of land donated by Karol Bielech, on range road 73, seven miles south of Derwent.

In 1938, five families and Fr. Kaluzny began the process of building St. Joseph Church in Derwent.  The property for the church was taken from SE-16-54-7-W4, immediately north of the Village of Derwent.  The families involved in the construction were the Hendels, Korens, Nosters, Podlubnys and Ziomeks.  Fr. Kaluzny was instrumental in securing a $500.00 loan from the Archdiocese through Archbishop MacDonald.  The families were fortunate to find a carpenter who was willing to construct the church for a contract fee of  $300.00, and the founding families were expected to provide labour for the completion of the project.  The building process took a year, and St. Joseph Church was blessed by Archbishop MacDonald on September 11, 1939.  The original families were joined by others, who helped make St. Joseph a vibrant Mission, and in a few years they succeeded in paying off all of the debt associated with completion of the church.

St. Joseph was established as a Mission of St. Michael Parish, near Lamont, and the Priests came to Derwent by train.  Initially, Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph's once per month, and as transportation systems improved, Mass was offered more frequently.  From St. Michael, the Priests who served St. Joseph were:

  • Fr. Kaluzny (1938 - 1945)
  • Fr. Zenko (1945 - 1958)
  • Fr. Lenchowski (1958 - 1961) 

In 1961, Archbishop MacDonald designated St. Joseph as a Mission of St. Columba Parish, Clandonald, cutting down significantly on travel time for the Priests. From St. Columba, Clandonald, the Priests who served St. Joseph were:

  • Fr. Purcell (1961 - 1966)
  • Fr. Leszczynski (1960 - 1963)
  • Fr, Murphy (1963 - 1967)
  • Fr. McDougal (1966 - 1967)
  • Fr. MacLellan (1967 - 1968)
  • Fr. MacDonnell (1968 - 1969)
  • Fr. O’Neill (1969 - 1971)
  • Fr. Hickey (1971 - 1974)
  • Fr. Zynel (1974 - 1980)
  • Fr. Strankowski (1980 - 1986)
  • Fr. Blaszkowski (1986 - 1990)

In 1988, a front foyer, serving as a Sacristy and social area, was added to the church. John Bober canvassed all the parishioners and received sufficient donations to complete the construction. Ken Agar, a local builder, led the volunteers in this project.

In 1990, Archbishop MacNeil designated St. Columba Parish and St. Joseph Church as a Missions of the Catholic Parish of the Holy Name,Vermilion. In 1994, at the prompting of Fr. West, a small kitchen and washroom were added to the church, and St. Joseph finally had running water.  This made barbecues and other summer-time events much more convenient, and, in winter, parents with little children appreciated not having to brave snow drifts to get to the outhouse.

From the Catholic Parish of the Holy Name, the clergy serving at St. Joseph have been:
  • Fr. West (1990 - 1994)
  • Fr. Escober (1994 - 2004)
  • Fr. Cadieux (2004 - 2006)
  • Fr. Lasko (2006 - 2008)
  • Deacon Kenneth Noster (Assigned by Archbishop Smith in 2008 to assist at the Catholic Parish of the Holy Name, including St. Columba Church and St. Joseph Church)
  • Fr. Blaszkowski (2008 - 2009)
  • Fr. Adam Deren (2009 - 2013)
  • Fr. Roger Rouleau (2013 - present)
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