History of Our Parish

Timeline of Events

DATE: September 1964   


DATE: June 26, 1966   


DATE: November 1968 


DATE: December 8, 1968


DATE: December 1995   


DATE: September 13, 1997 


DATE: Fall 2008       


DATE: Dec 08, 2018              


The Parish is established, Douglas Cardinal is commissioned as the architect.


Sod turning ceremony.


Completion of construction and first Mass celebrated.


Consecration of the Church by Most Rev. Anthony Jordan, Archbishop of Edmonton


Completion of the Parish Centre


The Great Crucifix, by German sculptor Alois Marx, is Blessed by Archbishop Joseph MacNeil.


Rosary Garden is completed and Blessed.


50th Anniversary of the Official Opening and Blessing of the Church


St. Mary's Pastors

Fr. Werner Merx, OMI            

Fr. Norman Bordage, CSC     

Fr. Paul Kingston, CSC           

Fr. Hugh MacGillivray, CSC   

Fr. Gottfried Seifert, SAC        

Fr. Erik Riechers, SAC           

Fr. Joseph Dephoff, SAC       

Fr. Paul Kavanagh                 

Fr. Les Drewicki                   

Fr. Len Cadieux                       

Fr. Miroslaw Kostarzewski 













Construction of St. Mary's

Before the official establishment of St. Mary’s Parish on September 6, 1964, members of the clergy from Sacred Heart Church in Red Deer arranged to provide spiritual guidance to the parishioners living within the bounds of what was to become Red Deer’s second parish. In the beginning it was unofficially known as St. Thomas parish, probably because Masses were celebrated in the gymnasium of St. Thomas School.

The full and proper name of St. Mary’s Church is the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Fr. Werner Merx was appointed the first pastor and superintended the construction of this unique building.

Planning for the Church began in the fall of 1964 by commissioning Douglas J. Cardinal as the architect.   
Mr. Cardinal was born and raised in Red Deer and St. Mary’s was the first major project of his professional career.  

Mr. James T. Morrisroe donated three acres of his farmland for the building of the Church.

The sod was turned for the beginning of construction on June 26, 1966 with completion of construction in November of 1968.

The total cost of the Church, exclusive of land and fees, was approximately $360,000.00. Over the years improvements and upgrades have been needed to maintain health and safety standards of the building, including the removal of the asbestos coating on the ceiling and its replacement with the existing sealant. The parapets and roof have also been replaced.

The church has a seating capacity of 650, which can be augmented with additional chairs for seating capacity      of 720.  The Parish Hall can add another 300 on special occasions.

Most Rev. Anthony Jordan, O.M.I. Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Edmonton consecrated the Church on      December 8, 1968 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary) on its official opening.

The church has been described as being warm, sheltering, protective, inviting and free flowing. 
Father Werner Merx, then pastor, was quoted as saying, “The intention is to bring everyone closer to the altar and closer to each other.

In the early 1990’s parishioners began the task of raising funds for a parish center. The needs of the faith community went beyond celebrating the Mass together on a daily and weekly basis. It was decided that in order to accommodate the growing needs for meeting space and gathering space for social and educational opportunities, a Parish Centre was needed. After considerable deliberation, the contract for design of the project was awarded to Group 2 Architects with the explicit instructions that the new design must complement and blend with the original architecture. In 1995 construction began on the project, which was completed and blessed on December 17, 1995.

The parish center has added a new dimension to the life of the parish and helped the community to grow and prosper. Meetings, social gatherings, education and catechetical instruction make the parish center a beehive of activity throughout the week and the year.

German artist and sculptor, Alois Marx, added permanent artwork to the church over the course of 3 summers.     The Great Crucifix took about 400 hours to create. The cross is made from two fir logs. The body or “corpus” was fashioned from two large yellow cedar logs. It is 6.5 meters high and weighs about 3500 lbs.  Mrs. Jeanne Depalme and her family donated the materials for the artwork in memory of her husband, Frank Depalme.    Archbishop Joseph MacNeil blessed the completed artwork on September 13, 1997.

December 8, 2018 was the 50th Anniversary of the Official Opening and Blessing of the Parish. Fr Les Drewicki, with staff ,parishioners, and many family and friends helped to make this Celebration a success. 

Michael Dawe from the Red Deer Express wrote a brief History on the Parish at the end of December 2018.

The design of the church enhances the worship space by bringing all members of the congregation into close proximity to the altar, which is the center and focal point of our liturgy and of the prayer life of the community.

The parish continues to grow due to the hard work and dedication of the clergy and the committed members of the parish who treat the church not as a building, but as a family of believers. As we continue to grow in faith and love, the church building takes on the aura of the community it houses.

If you are interested in obtaining more details on the history of the church building and of the Parish, they can be found in certain booklets available in the Parish Office.  Feel welcome to ask for them!