In response to an appeal from the Most Reverend Joseph Ryan, the Apostolic Nunciature in Lisbon sent Father Antonio Cunha to the Diocese of Hamilton to serve the Portuguese community in 1960. Although he was posted in Hamilton, he was also charged with the care of those who lived in Galt, Kitchener, Oakville, etc. The first Mass for the Portuguese community in the city of Cambridge (Galt) was held in the basement hall of St. Ambrose parish, on September 25, 1960.
By 1966 the number of Portuguese in Galt had risen to about 3,000, and plans for building a church were well underway. The church was constructed and dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima on December 11, 1966. Tony Horton of Kitchener was the architect, designer and supervisor of the work. It was the first church built by Portuguese on Canadian soil. In 1977 the parish added a priests' residence and assembly hall for parish meetings and events. In 1980 another wave of Portuguese newcomers in Cambridge and its surrounding areas increased Sunday Mass attendance in the parish. It soon became necessary to renovate and enlarge the church. The enlarged and improved building was blessed in 1987. It now seats 500 people. By 1995 there were about 10,000 Portuguese Catholics in Galt. As the new, Canadian-born generation has become integrated into the local community, however, attendance at the Portuguese language liturgies has begun to diminish.
Nevertheless, the religious zeal of the people of the Islands of the Azores continues to be evident among parishioners. Popular religious devotions, such as the festivals in honour of the Holy Spirit and the Santo Cristo, bring a special liveliness and energy to the parish. Through all of life's rhythms, the people of Lady of Fatima continue to celebrate their faith.
NOSSA SENHORA DE FÁTIMA
Música e letra:
Irmãos Pedro e Paulo Alvito, Lisboa.
Vamos todos dar as mãos,
Construir um mundo novo
Com Portugal no pensamento
E, Maria no coração.
Do Continente ou das Ilhas
O Canadá foi nosso destino.
Queremos hoje viver cantando;
Este hino a Maria!
Com alegria na voz
Com a saudade na alma
À Senhora de Fátima cantamos
Ave-Maria, Senhora Nossa!
The statue of the Virgin Mary of Fatima in Cambridge is a beautiful carved wooden sculpture with an equally beautiful story.
The Portuguese people in Canada are identified by Fatima as their national flag. According the information of The Catholic Church Directory there are ten parishes in Canada with the name of Our Lady of Fatima.
The Rev. Dr. Policarpo Lopes wrote in his book about the Pastoral of Fatima the following:
The Portuguese immigrants as soon as they arrive in the country , they are looking for
a church and talking with the local priest about having an image of Lady of Fatima brought
As soon they are granted the permission from the Pastor, the community shares the expenses for the project.
Afterwards they organize a festive reception, carrying in procession the statue of the Virgin Mary of Fatima, into the church where is exposed in a small altar for the veneration of the people.
In this way the people feel at home, rejoicing to have among them a symbol of their deep-rooted devotion for Mary. Such a phenomenal experience is found in each Portuguese Community all over the world. Among us here, it happened in 1961. The Portuguese community in Galt, had at the time about five hundred souls. The statue of Lady of Fatima arrived here in May of 1961. The little nucleus of Portuguese residents of Galt acclaimed the statue enthusiastically. It was carried on a portable throne by four well known pioneers to the basement hall of the Saint Ambrose church, where the Sunday Mass in Portuguese was being celebrated.
Five years later, on December 11, 1966, the new church building was blessed and dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. It was then that the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, a fine wooden sculpture made in the City of Braga in Portugal, was taken from St. Ambrose church and placed in her present altar in the present church.
Every year, on the second Sunday of July a great community festival takes place for Our Lady of Fatima with a candlelight procession and other festive and religious events.
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