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Friday, July 12, 2024
P10468 - St. Angela Merici Church original structure. Courtesy of St. Angela Merici Church
  In 1920, less than a dozen Italian families resided in the city of Windsor. During the 1920s, as the number of immigrants grew, priests from the Order of Benedictine Fathers would occasionally come from Detroit, to minister to the Italian community.

By 1928, the number of Italian families

St. Angela Merici Church original structure.
Courtesy of St. Angela Merici Church, P10468

  had grown to aproximately 150. In that year representatives of the Italian community met with the Apostolic
Delegate, Monsignor Andrea Cassullo, on the occasion of his visit to Windsor, and spoke to him of the need for a priest who spoke the language of the recent immigrants and who understood their needs.

The Apostolic Delegate discussed the matter with the Bishop of the Diocese of London, and arrangements were subsequently made for an Italian-speaking priest to come from London once a week to tend to the spiritual needs of the Italian community.

At this time, the property where the church now stands, at the corner of Erie Street and Louis Avenue, was nothing more than an empty lot, which would be occupied for a short time each year by a touring circus.

On the 27th day of January, 1929, Father Alfonso Page was appointed Administrator of the Italian Community of Windsor, and it was on that day that he and the Italian people of Windsor joined together for the official opening of the “Italian Chapel” at Sacred Heart Church. During the week of April 7-14, 1929, the first Holy Mission to be preached in Italian, in Windsor, was conducted at the “Italian Chapel” by Rev. Father Raffaele D’Alfonso.

It was soon after the opening of the “Italian Chapel”, in 1929, that an active group of women in that early Church community founded the Christian Women’s Society. Four years later on May 14, 1933, a chapter of the Holy Name Society was organized among Italian men. It would eventually be primarily through the leadership and efforts of these two groups that the church of St. Angela Merici would be constructed.

On December 1, 1935 the first real steps were taken toward the founding of a permanent place of worship for the Italian community in Windsor. On that day a general meeting was called by the delegates of the five associations representing the Italians in Essex County for the purpose of discussing the problems of the Italian Community. On this day the decision was made to build a national church which would be based on nationality and language rather than geographic area.

A delegation of five men subsequently journeyed to Ottawa to plead with the Apostolic Delegate, Monsignor Umberto Mozzoni, to send an Italian priest to help build the church. In August of 1938, the Apostolic Delegate had met with Father Costantino DeSantis, then pastor of St. Michael’s parish in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.A., and asked him to come to Windsor to found a new Italian parish.

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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


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