In 1969, Msgr L.A. Costello, the pastor of Resurrection of our Lord Parish, introduced a Sunday mass in the chapel of Notre Dame High School (Campanile) on Heron Road, in order to serve the needs of the faithful, living in the Heron/Walkley area. Here the people began worshipping and working together as a satellite operation of Resurrection of Our Lord Parish. This was where the seed of St. Peter’s Parish began to germinate. This arrangement continued until 1973 when the Campanile campus (which is currently St. Patrick’s Middle School and the Federal government study centre) was closed. Mass was then celebrated in the gymnasium of St. Peter’s Junior High School (which is currently the Heron Road food bank and City of Ottawa Community Center).
In 1974, Father James Whalen, the assistant pastor of Resurrection of Our Lord Parish, under Msgr. David Corkery and Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde, was appointed as administrator of St. Peter’s Catholic Community. As the number of people attending mass grew, it become apparent that a larger space was needed to accommodate the faithful. Various ministries and committees were established under his direction, and with space and real estate in mind, a committee was formed that successfully negotiated with the Ottawa Roman Catholic Separate School Board to build a chapel as a wing of the new Prince of Peace School with access to the gymnasium of the school.
On February 4, 1977, Archbishop Plourde authorized the establishment of the new Christian community of St. Peter’s under the guidance of Father James Whelan, with a goal “to promote the love and compassion of Jesus Christ showed to all people, of every creed, with special emphasis on the needs of the poor and the underprivileged.”
Prince of Peace School opened on Friday, February 18, 1977 and the school was blessed by Fr. Whalen in a special ceremony. The first Mass in St. Peter’s Chapel was celebrated on Saturday March 19, 1977 at 7:00 p.m. The Chapel was blessed and dedicated at the 11:15 a.m. mass on Sunday, May 22, 1977 by Archbishop Plourde. On Sunday, October 16, 1977 Prince of Peace School was officially opened and blessed by Bishop John Beahen, Auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa.
In 1978 the parish community said good bye to Father Whalen. Following his departure, the community welcomed other administrators until 1981:
- 1978 – 1979 Father Robert Bedard, Founder of Companions of the Cross
- 1979 – 1980 Father Patrick Lorand, Belgium, O.M.I
- 1980 – 1984 Father Paul Baxter
On May 15, 1981, St. Peter’s was officially elevated to the status of a parish and Father Baxter was named as the first full-time pastor. This was followed by a number of other Diocesan Pastoral appointments in the years to come:
- 1980 – 1984 Father (and later Msgr.) Paul Baxter, First Full-time Pastor
- 1984 – 1996 Father Donald Gavan, Longest serving pastor
- 1996 – 1997 Father Joseph Brassard, O.M.I
- 1997 – 2002 Father Jacques Kabangu, D.P
- 2002 – 2009 Father Jessimar C. Tapia D.P
- 2009 – 2014 Father Joseph Vayalil D.P
- 2014 – (current) Father Emeka Onyeogubalu D.P
Two deacons were appointed to St. Peter’s by the Archbishop: Ted Lindsay (1980 – 1982) and Bob Birch (1996 to current).
The church soon developed into a successful parish with the help of many, one thankfully being Richard Sutton. He came to Canada as an immigrant from British Guyana in April 1976. His mother Joan had preceded him by four years. They became members of St. Peter’s Parish and Richard was appointed in 1977 by Msgr. David Corkery, as the first sexton of the Church. He has served continuously in that capacity for 40 years. His job soon expanded and he functions as sexton, sacristan, supervisor of altar servers, office manager, and general factotum. He is very knowledgeable in church liturgy, ritual and rubrics. He is truly a “key” member of the Parish and the “right hand” of the pastor. All this he does while holding down a full-time job as a faculty member in the school community.
Today, St. Peter’s is a vibrant parish community of activity through its engagement in numerous ministries. It welcomes a variety of ethnic and social groups and has become a genuine reflection of the cosmopolitan character of the city of Ottawa.