The history of the Community of Barrhead, Alberta can be traced back to the early years of the 20th century. There had been early settlements and missions around Barrhead before the railroads were built in 1927. The construction of the rail resulted in forming the new business community in Barrhead. In Mosside, a small church was build in 1916 under the supervision of Fr. Cochette. The faith community in Naples built the church in 1923.
From 1918 onwards Fr. Koolen from Clyde had the charge of the mission in Mosside. It is said that he traveled throughout the district with his band of ponies and held services in the homes. Fr. McIntyre from Westlock seceded Fr. Koolen in the ministry and later Fr. Rooned seceded him from 1927. He was the parish priest at Sancta Marie Church in Westlock and Barrhead was one of his missions.
Mass was conducted in the homes of the parishioners until 1929 when they decided to build their own church. The initiation was taken by Mr. Bill Williams, who was manager of the Beaver Lumber and by Mr. Fred Fluet, who was in the construction business. (In the archives in St. Paul, recently I found a letter from Mr. Williams stating the $400 they had collected as building bee and the total amount required. Their estimate for the first church in Barrhead is calculated as $2000). The shell of the church was completed the same year and it served the purpose of the church for the faithful. The pews were made of nail kegs, with planks laid from keg to keg. The heating system was a barrel type wood heater that crackled noisily when in use. A little old organ was donated by Mr. Mark Elvin, who was the grain elevator agent at Manola. The Church bell was donated by St. Jean the Baptist Parish, Morinville. This is the beautiful picture of the first church in Barrhead.
It was in 1932, Barrhead had it's first resident priest. Fr. Carter was appointed as the first parish priest and he was accompanied by his aged father. The need for a rectory and need to hire a house keeper was urgent, so the volunteers came together to collect necessary fund to construct the rectory.
Fr. Poirier was appointed as parish priest in 1936 and he served at the missions of Naples, Mosside, Fort Assiniboine, Linaria, Camp Creek, Vega, etc. He furnished the interiors of the church as well as the rectory. A Catholic Women Guild was formed as per the suggestions of Fr. Poirier and later in 1956 it joined the CWL of Canada. Fr. Poirier continued his duties as parish priest until he was retired in 1970. A long 34 years of service to this parish.
As the town of Barrhead grew and the transportation facilities improved, the missions of Naples and Mosside were amalgamated to St. Anne's Parish. In 1944, the sisters of St. Joseph of Pembroke, Ontario purchased the hospital and they became active part of the parish community. The organized catechism, music etc.
In 1948 the church was enlarged by adding a bell tower and front portion. The steeple was removed. It was in the same year the parish hall was constructed. In 1957 the church was extended again. This time at the rear. The sanctuary and sacristy were added. In 1963, the men of the parish held a drive to raise money to buy an electric organ. It is dedicated to the fallen war heroes of World War I & II. Swan Hills was added to the Barrhead mission in 1961 and Fr. Morissette was appointed as the assistant parish priest and priest in charge of Swan Hills. Fr. Poirier retired in 1970.
Priests like Fr. Terre, Fr. Herve Tangyay and Fr. Edmond Croteau followed, taking the spiritual leadership of the parish for the next one decade. Fr. Kasimir Bukowski took charge in 1980. With his initiation a council of Knights of Columbus was established in the parish. Fr. Andrew Rybak served in the parish for one year.
Fr. Gerard Gauthier was appointed as pastor in 1988. The construction of the new parish hall, rectory and office attached to the church was done in this term. The new facility opened up a lot of potential for various parish activities.
Fr. John Joseph and Fr. Kim son Nguyen were appointed parish priests the following years. In 1997 Fr. John Adamyk was appointed pastor and he served the parish for 6 years. The beautiful statue of our Lady was dedicated to the parish in this time, as it was donated by the Knights of Columbus. The renovation at the cemetery was started in 2002.
Fr. Paul Thekkanath, a Carmelite priest from India was appointed as the pastor in 2003. The cemetery project was continued by making concrete runners and fixing the headstones on to the runners. The crucifix in the cemetery was renovated and was erected inside the newly built shrine in 2005. The construction of the new shrine was entirely volunteered by the parishioners. New property adjacent to the back of the church was purchased in 2005, for the purpose of changing it into a parking lot.