Our Parish

Lac Ste. Anne was the first permanent Catholic mission in Alberta. It was founded by a diocesan priest Fr. Jean-Baptiste Thibault in 1842. He blessed the lake and renamed it Lac Ste. Anne, which was previously called "Manito Sakahigan" or "Spirit Lake" by the Cree people. Aboriginal people camped on the west end of the lake which became the pilgrimage grounds considered sacred for generations and widely known as a place of healing. It came to be known as "Devil's Lake" by Hudson's Bay Company traders.  

The original church was built at Lac Ste. Anne in 1844; Father Albert Lacombe and Father René Remas began the service by Oblate Missionaries in 1852. The Oblates have continuously served the area since then. Father Lacombe also set up a mission in St. Albert, and along with the Sisters of Charity of Montréal, a school to facilitate the growing Catholic population. The Oblates have continued to serve the religious needs of the citizens in Lac Ste Anne and St. Albert ever since.

The Lac Ste Anne Settlement grew until there were over 2000 people in the community. The Hudsons Bay Store, a separate school, orphanage retreat, North West Mounted Police Barracks, dance hall, post office, several stores and hotels moved into the area complementing the Church, Rectory and Convent. At one time the settlement was larger in population and commerce than Fort Edmonton.

In 1859, three Sisters of Charity of Montreal (Grey Nuns) journeyed from Montreal to form a school for the community. While the sisters were at Lac Ste Anne, they learned the Cree language and prepared a 185-page grammar text which was incorporated in Fr. Lacombe's dictionary of the Cree language and published in 1874.

The first annual Pilgrimage to St. Anne was organized by Fr. Lestanc, OMI in July 1889 and 400 people attended. In the early 1900's, the Pilgrimage was attended by about 1000 pilgrims each year and by 1926, over 5000 people attended the gathering. By the 1990's over 40,000 pilgrims attended the week long event. The annual Pilgrimage, now a national historic site, has continued each year, during the week of July 26 (the feast day of St. Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and has become one of the most unique and memorable spiritual gatherings of pilgrims in North America and is especially close to the hearts of our many First Nations people who continue to attend annually.

The church had deteriorated over the years, and Father Joseph Jean-Marie Lestanc persuaded Bishop Grandin at St. Albert to approve a new church building, which was blessed in 1889. In this same year, the first Pilgrimage took place in Lac. Ste Anne. On December 2, 1928, the church was completely destroyed by fire with all the contents, including the Altar, statues, bells and even the crutches and canes left by pilgrims following miraculous cures.

In May of 1930, Father Pierre -Marie LeBre, bought an unused dance hall and moved it to Lac Ste. Anne to replace the church destroyed by fire in 1928. Several farmers laid fence posts and rolled the hall about a mile and pulling it with their tractors. The building was converted into a church and from 1930-2009, it served the parish community.

In 2009, after several years of fundraising, some very generous donations, plus with funds realized from the sale of the Catholic Church in the Village of Alberta Beach which was no longer in use, the parish had sufficient monies in hand to allow them to qualify for a mortgage from Archdiocese of Edmonton for the building of a new church on the Mission site. Approval was received from the Archdiocese in the summer of 2009, construction was started in September 2009,  and the first Mass in the new building was celebrated February 28, 2010, by our late Pastor, Fr. Alex Carrier OMI, with his assisting priest, Fr. Maurice Joly omi, concelebrating. The new church was officially blessed by Archbishop Richard Smith August 7, 2010. One week before the Official Blessing the parish was blessed to receive a large and completely anonymous donation which allowed them to fully pay off their mortgage and move forward debt-free.

 

On June 1, 2012, Father Les Kwiatkowski OMI officially became the Pastor of Lac Ste Anne parish as well as Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Enoch First Nation, the Catholic Community of Alexander, Our lady of the Lake parish in Alexis First Nation, and the Catholic Community of Paul First Nation.  

A member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), Father Les immigrated to Canada in 1990. He was assigned to the Northwest Territories where for five years he served the Dene in the communities of Fort Liard, Fort Providence and Fort Simpson. In 1995, he moved to the Blood Reserve in southern Alberta, where he spent ten years. Father Les then spent eight years in Wabasca after which he accepted his current position. His experiences in these communities have given him a deep appreciation of First Nations spirituality and culture.

 

  • To reach Fr. Les Kwiatkowski please see the contact numbers, email addresses, and regular mailing addresses under Contact
  • To reach our Parish Council President call Mary Lutz at (780) 924-8324

Our Parish Council

  • Fr. Leszek Kwiatkowski (OMI) - Pastor and Ex-Officio Member
  • Fr. Gerry LeStrat (OMI) - Assistant Pastor and Ex-Officio Member
  • Mary Lutz - Chair
  • Cecile Bulva – Secretary
  • John Harvard - Community Life Committee Representative
  • Kevin McNeely - Liturgy Committee Representative
  • Jeannette Symbaluk - Music Ministry Representative
  • Corrine Potts - Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nations Representative
  • Yvonne Rain - Paul Band Nations Representative
  • Bob Kennedy - Member at Large
  • Nicole Norris - Member at Large
  • Richard Martin - Chair - Finance Committee - Ex Officio member