The first Italians arrived in Winnipeg in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. This small community worshipped at both Scared Heart Church and St. Mary’s Cathedral. In 1912 an Italian Missionary arrived and a gathering of Italians was arranged and met on a regular basis. From this a committee was formed which eventually brought about the birth of Holy Rosary Church. In 1923 a Lutheran Church situated on the corner of Sherbrook and Bannatyne was purchased and on October 7th of that year the church was consecrated for Catholic worship.
In those early years, the spiritual welfare of the Italians was served by the Oblate Fathers who were succeeded by priests of the Diocese of Winnipeg and in 1937 the Servite Fathers arrived. There are many among the old timers who remember well those who looked after the spiritual needs of the parishioners of Holy Rosary – to name a few – Fr. Alfonse Borelli; Fr. Angelo Papi; Fr. Adiran Cimichella; Fr. Ubaldo Furlan; Fr. John Provost; Fr. Ignatuis O’Sullivan; Fr. Hubert dePalma; Fr. Marcel Brodeur; Fr. Domenico Fiore; Fr. Andrew Carrier; Sr. Augusta; the Servite Sisters; and Sisters of the Presentation.
With the influx of Italian immigrants the Parish continued to grow. The church was the focal point of the Italian Community, not only for worship but for more of their social gatherings. Various clubs and committees were formed and many fund raisers took place – socials, bazaars, spaghetti dinners, teas, plays, and concerts. Holy Rosary was well known for its sports teams – hockey, softball, basketball and soccer. One of the most exciting highlights of the Young People’s Group was when they entered a float in the City of Winnipeg’s 75th Anniversary parade. The float, built as a huge Gondola was named the Santa Lucia. These young Italians performed at many of the Anniversary events. It was written in the newspaper that “they sang and danced their way into Winnipeg’s heart”.
The 1960’s brought about a big change to Holy Rosary Church on Sherbrook. It was sold to the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital for $275,000 in order for them to erect the $7 million addition. October 1967 – Holy Rosary moved to 510 River Avenue. The 500 seat church and administrative centre was built at a cost of $390,000. More information about the architecture can be found here.
1995 – The Servite Order advise that after 58 years of service to the people of Holy Rosary they must close their doors to Winnipeg due to a shortage of priests in their community. It was a time of sadness not only for the parishioners but for both Fr. Domenico Fiore and Fr. Andrew Carrier the last two Servite Fathers to serve the Italian community. They are both remembered with great love and affection.
August 1995 – Holy Rosary welcomes their new Pastor, Fr. Sam Argenziano, the first Diocesan Priest to serve Holy Rosary since 1937.
And now, as Holy Rosary celebrates 90 years, it continues to be a very active, vibrant parish serving not only the Italian Community but the spiritual needs of many other cultures. With love and gratitude the people of Holy Rosary are truly blessed to have Fr. Sam Argenziano as the “Shepherd of Our Flock”.