Our Parish Story
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was know locally as St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, but officially as the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Sexsmith going back now for over 100 years.
In 1916 under the direction of Father Wagner O.M.I. a church was built at Clairmont on land owned by Frank Durda, on which Lakeview Mobile Home Village is now situated. This church served the local catholic community of Clairmont until 1920 when it was decided to move it to Sexsmith. Eight teams of horses and many men among them Bill Shannon, Pat Healey, Frank Campbell, Joe McIssac and John Kapalka Sr, undertook the task to set the little church on the exact site that Immaculate Conception Catholic Church now sits. Father Paul Serrand O.M.I. (1920-1932) celebrated the first Mass in the newly acquired church. This little church was later moved to Belloy, near Wanham, to make way for the construction of the present church Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, completed in 1953. Interestingly, this little church ONCE AGAIN was moved BACK to Sexsmith by the Sexsmith Historical Society who situated it beside the historical Paszkowski House and across from the Blacksmith Museum. Restoration was underway when sadly, the little church was caught up in the blaze that leveled the old Frontier Lumber Yard building next door and was destroyed beyond repair in August of 2009.
Father Isadore Shalla, C.Ss.R. (1932-1935) is remembered as a priest who at harvest time would go to work on a farm and what he earned was distributed to those most in need during the Depression. Father R. Conway, C.Ss.R. (1935-1938) braved the northern missions. Father J. Naphin C.Ss.R. (1938-1941) arrived to replace Father Conway at a point when the great depression was deepening in the region and talk of a second world war loomed. Father C. Crean (1941-1944)replaced Father Naphin in 1941 and commuted on horseback to Buffalo Lake and Sexsmith. Father Spicer (1944-1947) replaced Father Crean at Sexsmith and Buffalo Lake.
Talk of a new church was going around. Under the direction of Father J. Hague (1947-1950) , who replaced Father Spicer, the Catholic Youth Organization (C.Y.O.) was organized and membership was open to all youth, including young married couples. For fourteen years the C.Y.O. played an active part in the parish and contributed their time and effort in cooperation with the C.W.L. in raising money for the building fund by putting on dances, sponsoring plays, bake sales, selling Christmas trees and food booths at fairs and sporting events. All totaled, $70,000.00 was needed to build the new church.
A big change was about to happen. Father Frances Dales C.Ss.R. (1950-1959) replaced Father Hague and Father Dales was an architech as well as a priest. Father Dales put his creativity and vision to work for the all the communities he served as is clearly evidenced by the design and construction of the straw bale church in Bad Heart, AB. Under Father Dales guidance, the present church Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and old St. Mary's School were also constructed. The present church Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was blessed on June 6, 1954 by Bishop Henri Routhier, O.M.I.
See more information on Straw Bale Church at Bad Heart, AB
Father R Molland C.Ss.R (1959-1961) replaced Father Dales and oversaw plans to build a rectory and garage so that Sexsmith could have a resident priest rather than commuting from Grande Prairie. In 1961 Father T. Murray C.S.s.R. (1961-1978) replaced Father Molland and became the first resident parish priest at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church; staying 17 years in the parish.
Father R. Connaughton C.Ss.R. (1978-1995)
Father Leon Kler, O.M.I. (1995-2005)
Father Dino Benedet, C.Ss.R. (2005-2012)
Father Sherwin Clifford, Diocesan Priest ( 2012- 2013)
Father Antony Raj Iruthayana, HGN, Diocesan Priest ( 2013 - 2016)
Father Jeyapaul Packiasamy, (2016- present)