- CA RCDCA AR H3
- Corporate body
Early homesteading settlers in the area around Hanna were occasionally served by the Tinchebray Fathers from Castor, forty-five miles north of the town of Hanna. May 3, 1910 marked the first visit by Father Lucien LeConte S.M.T who visited a parishioner in his home, to which many visits were made thereafter. Hanna’s church was begun in 1915 and officially offered Mass for the first time in June, 1916. The building was later blessed by Archbishop Emile Legal on June 29, 1917. Rev. A. Darvell, a Franciscan on temporary leave from England was the very first resident pastor, arriving in July, 1921. In the early years of the church and its Mass, many parishioners traveled great distances by means of horse and carriage. It has been noted that during the years of the Depression when both food and money were scarce, Mass was held in the basement to save heating costs and was only offered during Lent. These struggles among the parishioners during the Depression created a ‘special’ sense of a bonding community.
During the 1940s, the ladies of the Altar Society were often called on to help out in any way they could, particularly with church and community work, which furthered the common themes of working together in order to persevere. In 1946, resident pastor Fr. M.A. Harnett invited the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception to come to Hanna. The Sisters were a huge part of life in Hanna. They are rooted in the prophetic vision of St. Vincent de Paul who urged the need for a community of women who could reach out in compassion to all communities alike, with a special relationship to the poor and needy. They taught catechism and began directing the parish choirs, along with teaching music for all who wanted to learn, both inside and outside of the church community. The Sisters however, withdrew from Hanna and community in the early 1960s. This was in part due to post-World War II social developments inclusive of a more vigorous feminism and many women wishing to work for better employment opportunities and also in-part due to the declining numbers of religious in the surrounding communities all across the country.
In 1955 a new church had been erected for which Father Harnett managed to collect funds in his travels abroad in both Canada and the United States. The church was dedicated on September 1, 1956, by Archbishop MacDonald. The old church had been moved to Delia in July 1955, 36 kilometres away from Hanna, and has served there ever since.
The 1960s brought change in the form of geographical reconstructions. The Calgary Diocesan boundaries had been established before the Canadian Northern Railway was finished. As a result, Hanna, which is on the “Goose Lake Line” and on the highway from Calgary to Saskatoon, was not in the Calgary Diocese, although all its geographic connections were in that direction and it was only one-mile north of the Diocesan boundary. The railway curved north because of the conformation of the Hand Hills and a divisional point was established which became the town of Hanna in August, 1912. Hanna had no easy road or rail connections with Edmonton, and half of its potential parishioners lived in the Diocese of Calgary. Relocation of the Diocesan boundary was first broached in 1936 by Archbishop O’Leary of Edmonton, but for various reasons was not completed until June 7, 1965, after a delegation of parishioners from Hanna asked for the change. After 1965, when the borders of the Diocese were altered to embrace Hanna, St. George’s own boundaries themselves shifted several times. In 1965 the Calgary Diocese transferred responsibility for St. Timothy’s Mission at Sunnynook from Oyen to Hanna. In 1974, Hanna began serving Youngstown, 56 kilometres to the east. The mission was restored to Oyen in 1975, while St. George’s geographical borders were re-drawn again on 1980. Because of the vastness of the region for which Oyen was responsible, the Diocese was prompted to return Youngstown to the care of Hanna. At the same time, it gave Brooks the portion of St. George’s Parish south of Pockville.