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The brief history of our Lady Of Hungary church in Vancouver
The Hungarians started to com to Canada in large numbers after the Second World War and also after the 1956 revolution. A third of those have settled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in British Columbia. |
At first the Hungarian Catholics were not organized, they did not have their own Church. This changed when Father Benjamin Csaki (+1975) from Stockholm, Sask. (originally from Transylvania) came for the request of Archbishop Duke to be the Parish Priest in Abbotsford’s St. Anna Church to look after about 150 Hungarians. At the end of May 1950 Father Albert Zsigmond (+1991) originally from Transylvania arrived in Vancouver after he finished his studies in Rome. Besides his own pastoral duties he was more than willing to help Father Benjamin Csaki to serve the Hungarians.
In 1957 Archbishop Duke asked Father Zsigmond to care for the spiritual needs of about 6,000 Hungarian refugees who arrived in Abbotsford. Among them were some professors and a large number of students from the Sopron University of Forestry who also left Hungary after the Revolution in 1956. Eventually many left the camp and relocated in Vancouver and other cities.
From 1957 Hungarian Mass was held every Sunday in the German Holy Family Church in Vancouver. In Vancouver the Hungarian Catholic life started to flourish. At the same time Hungarians in Kelowna, Victoria, Nanaimo and Seattle (USA) had their spiritual need looked after. In spring of 1959 Father Geza Henye arrived who for the time being found residence at the cathedral. The Archbishop appointed him to be priest of the Hungarian Mission, and he also held Masses in the German Church. Soon the Hungarians wanted to have a Church of their own. It is believed that the present Church was purchased for $45,000. The founding Church members collected $5,000 among themselves and the rest was financed by the Archdiocese. For patron, St. Stephen and Our Lady of Hungary was proposed. The Archbishop decided on the later and on June 8, 1962 our Church was blessed by him. Then started the time of repairs and renovations, which was carried out by different Church members.
In 1963 Father Henye left because of an illness. The next 9 months was a time of waiting. Father Zsigmond, Father Dezso Potanko (+1997) and other Fathers from the Archdiocese filled in the void. Father Zsigmond asked Auxiliary Bishop Johnson who was going to Rome to attend the Vatican Council to contact the General of the Jesuits to see if they could possible provide Hungarian Jesuit Fathers to look after the Vancouver Our Lady of Hungary Church. As result Father Lajos Horanyi S.J. came to us. The mortgage was finally paid off during Father Lajos Horanyi’s pastoral ministry. In 1971 the Fahter unexpectedly become ill and so in October Father Bela Ugrin came to continue the work serving for the following 23 years. In the fall of 1994 Father Ugrin retried.
In his place came Father Gabor Kish S.J. After a couple of years he was transferred to Courtland to the local Szent Laszlo Church. With his departure the more than three decades of mission work by the Hungarian Jesuit Fathers came to an end.
On September 1 1996 Father Bela Pesznyak from the Diocese of Subotica came to be the Parish Priest until 2001. Then came Father Denes Lakatos from England (originally from Transylvania). At present he is still the Pastor of Our Lady of Hungary Chruch.