Father Joseph Cuddy, Former Pastor of Saint Mary’s Parish, Vancouver B.C.
Fr. Joseph Cuddy was born in County Carlow, Ireland (Nov. 24. 1949) and is buried in Kilkenny Cemetery. As a young man he was involved in drama and music. He entered the seminary at Wexford. It was there that Joseph Cuddy met Archbishop Carney from Vancouver.
The Archbishop was looking for seminarians who would come to minister to the people in Vancouver. Joe Cuddy volunteered and came after ordination – June 1, 1980. He was missioned to a parish outside of Vancouver but was transferred to St. Mary’s on Oct.6, 1985.At the same time he was assigned as chaplain and Archbishop’s Representative to Notre Dame Regional High School.
The High School served ten parishes in the Vancouver area. All ten parish priests served the school as well as their individual parishes.
Fr. Joe visited Notre Dame every day, helping students and staff. He was a great doer and encourager, much ahead of his time. In his parish of St. Mary’s he organized his enthusiastic supporters to build a new church.
St. Mary’s Ground-breaking Ceremony took place on Oct. 23. 1994. Father Cuddy was on the job every day with the workers. During the building days Father Cuddy was diagnosed with cancer and also had an operation. When the time came for the dedication of the church, Father Cuddy was unable to attend (Nov. 1, 1995). Archbishop Adam Exner dedicated the beautiful church.
In January 1995, Father Cuddy managed to say “good-bye” to his many parishioners and Vancouver. Relatives took him to London where he died, not able to reach his beloved Ireland. It is appropriate to remember his words about the new church at Saint Mary’s.
It will be a place of worship and welcome for all people of every race, colour and way of life, a place where people will experience the love of God and the presence of Christ”. Each of his talks would end with – “and that’s all I’ve got to say.”
The Roman Catholic parish of St. Mary’s was officially established by Archbishop of Vancouver Timothy Casey on Oct. 21, 1923. The area previously had been part of St. Joseph’s Parish.
The first mass was celebrated in the residence of the first pastor, Fr. Adrian Beausoleil, across Euclid street from the current church. Thereafter masses were celebrated in a nearby storefront, 5330 Joyce Street. At that time the parish consisted of approximately 40 people. The first official recorded parish noneucharistic sacrament, a baptism, was celebrated Nov. 4, 1923.
In 1924 an old butcher shop, Scott’s, on Joyce Street [site of BC Hydro substation] was pressed into service as the parish church. In 1925, due to the rapid growth, the building was doubled in size.
In 1925 some land at Euclid and Joyce was purchased for future construction. After five years of fund-raising and debt repayment a school was constructed on that land. The Sisters of the Child Jesus provided staff for the school which opened Sept. 5, 1931.
April 19,1936 the parish petitioned the archdiocese for permission to build a new church. Fund-raising to pay parish debts continued through the depression and war years. May 28, 1940 Father Beausoleil died having served as pastor 17 years. Construction of the new church building began May 1948, the new church opened Christmas eve 1948 following a candle light procession from the old building to the new.
In the postwar baby boom enrollment, which had steadily grown, increased dramatically. In 1949, the school had to be enlarged and at the same time the decision was made to no longer provide grades 9 – 12. In 1952 Msgr. John Teague became pastor, inheriting the construction debt which was paid off in 1954. In 1956 the present rectory and a new convent at the Northwest corner of Euclid and Joyce were constructed.
In 1969 the parish donated the land through the construction of Columbus Tower seniors residence that opened in 1970. In July 1969 St. Mary’s Parish Center [lower floor of the present school] was opened. Eleven years later, Sept. 1980, the second story [present school] replaced the old school building which was demolished. On May 5th, 1985 the parish rejoiced in the announcement of the settlement of the parish debt and fundraising continued under pastor Dennis Luterbach with a view to replacing the old church building.
On Dec. 8, 1988 Archbishop James Carney blessed and dedicated an official shrine at St. Mary’s in honour of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. June 17, 1994 during the International Year of the Family the parish celebrated with about 50 flags reflecting the national origins of our parishioners on the church walls. This celebration of national diversity has become an annual event, growing to over 80 ethnic and national identities.
Ground was broken for the new church by pastor Joseph Cuddy on Oct. 23, 1994. The old church was closed with a final liturgy 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11, 1995. Masses were celebrated in the school gymnasium during final construction. The old church and convent were demolished. The current church building was constructed and officially dedicated by Archbishop Adam Exner, OMI Nov. 1, 1995. The final mortgage payment was made November 2001.
Father Joe Cuddy’s vision for Notre Dame Regional Secondary School Vancouver
Proud of the Past
In the early 1950s, Archbishop Duke invited religious orders from across North America to come to Vancouver to found a high school in the city’s east end to serve the needs of the growing Italian community. The Sisters of Charity of Halifax accepted his challenge, and in 1953 Notre Dame opened its doors for the first time.
The years passed and the school buildings were added to in order to meet the increased demand for Catholic schooling. Those years before funding were difficult financially, but parents, teachers, and the supporting regional parishes made great sacrifices.
In 1985, a young Irish priest, Fr. Joe Cuddy, was appointed as the Archbishop’s Representative for the school. He immediately realized the need for an improved facility, and in his inimitable fashion, he created a three-phase vision of the new Notre Dame. Phase 1 was completed in late 1987 and consisted of the Gymnasium complex and adjoining classrooms. Phase 2 was completed in 1993 and consisted of the Auditorium conversion and the north end extension to the gymnasium. Sadly, phase 3, the replacement of the rest of the school, never became a reality, because Fr. Joe died of cancer in April 1996.
The Future is Now!
Fr. Joe Cuddy’s dream has been kept alive, by hard working members of the Notre Dame. Prior to the schools 50th anniversary, a meeting of the Notre Dame Community was called and with the support of F. Ian Stuart, Archbishops Rep. a building committee was formed, to work on building for the future. After a number of revisions and revised plans.
Archbishop Raymond Rousin granted an approval in principal for the project. THE NDBC engaged the Architectural firm of KMBR and the plans were put in motion.
After consultations with staff, students, the Catholic Independent Schools in the Vancouver Archdiocese, and other interested parties, the Notre Dame Building Committee under he Direction of Fr. Joe Ponti Archbishop’s Rep, & Chair, applied to the City Of Vancouver in April 2006 for a development permit. That permit was granted in February 2007.
The Ireland Canada Monument Society conveys sincere thanks to The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, office staff at St. Mary’s Parish, Vancouver, BC, the teachers and students of Notre Dame Regional Secondary High School, Vancouver and Sister Katherine, former Assistant to Father Cuddy at St. Mary’s Parish for their assistance and help.