Sacred Heart Cathedral is both a parish and the seat of the Diocese of Prince George. It was built in 1960 and was solemnly consecrated on April 5, 1961. The latest sanctuary renovation was originally initiated in 2018 and has reached its completion early this year, 2021. (Parish Bulletin, August 2021)
Roman Catholic presence in British Columbia dates back to the early 1800s through the work of the missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The first visit to Fort George was made by Father Modeste Demers, who arrived from Fort Vancouver in 1842 travelling with the Hudson's Bay Company caravan.
The earliest regular Roman Catholic Masses were offered by Father Nicolas Coccola, OMI in 1912. With no church, the faithful gathered at Birch's Hall in South Fort George. Two years later in 1914, conditions improved with the arrival of Father L. Rivet, OMI on August 12th. He started construction and the first Roman Catholic Church south of the Millar Addition was blessed September 27th.
Within a decade, the growing population required a larger church to replace the first simple building. The site chosen was at the corner of Patricia Boulevard and Ontario Street (which has since been re-named Ingledew). That new building was consecrated by Bishop Bunoz, OMI as Sacred Heart Church on Christmas Eve of 1924. Surviving photographs show the design as a simple gabled roofline fronted with a turret-tuppoed tower at the entrance, a rose window over the main door, and round-topped Gothic style windows in the Nave. It served as a Roman Catholic parish church until 1959 when it was sold to the Ukranian Catholic Church.
Prince George architect Trelle A. Morrow was contracted in 1957 to design the parish hall to accompany Sacred Heart Church, and again in 1959 to design a new church building at 887 Patricia Boulevard. It certainly met the criteria for the Modern design of its day. Morrow recalls, "the building has an interesting structure, laminated timber was used to develop what is call a two-hinged arch."
Sacred Heart Church was consecrated to the service of God on April 5, 1961, by Bishop Fergus O'Grady, OMI then serving as Vicar Apostolic of the Vicariate of Prince Rupert. The High Mass was followed by a formal banquet attended by His Grace, Archbishop Anthony Jordan, OMI from Edmonton, Mayor Garvin Dezell, Architect TRelle Morrow and several representatives from Narod Construction Co.
Two important changes occured during 1967. Pope Paul VI gave this region the status of diocese, and Bishop Fergus O'Grady, OMI made a decision to move the See from Prince Rupert to Prince George. Bishop O'Grady was installed formally on June 5, 1968, which marks the beginning of the new Diocese of Prince George. With that, the bishop's chair came into the building which had been designed as a parish church, but ended up serving as a cathedral. (Valerie M. E. Giles, 2008)
There are two publications related to the foundation and establishment of Sacred Heart Cathedral:
1. "In Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Sacred Heart Cathedral," April 1986.(Available at the parish)
2. "The Making of a Cathedral," April 2021. (Available at Books and Company, Prince George)
Tuesday 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Wednesday 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Thursday 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Friday 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM