3105 East 1st Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V5M 1B6
Tel. +1 (604) 253-2089
Fax. +1 (604) 254-5198
In August 1967, all Croatians eagerly awaited for their community to be united by their new parish when father Budimir Ambroz broke ground at the site of the new Croatian church. The results were far from disappointing. In fact, they were much more remarkable than anyone had ever imagined.
The Croatian parish grew rapidly through the leadership of the Croatian Franciscan priests and the sisters, the hard work of the church committee, and all the Croatians in Vancouver. Soon after, thanks to the priests, their assistants and all the parishioners, the Croatian school opened. Currently, it instructs the Croatian language and catechism to children from kindergarten to grade seven. It has seen generations of Croatians; children of past graduates are now attending the school, and generations are still to come.
The nuns arrived in December of 1971, and their presence was immediately felt and is cherished to this day. They help prepare our children for their First Communion, Confirmation, and a number of plays and performances that are put on by the church throughout the year.
Furthermore, the nuns play an important role for the parish itself. They maintain the church and the living quarters, and they run the church choir, which is among the better in the Croatian diaspora. The parishioners recognized the nuns’ hard work, and in appreciation bought the nuns a house in close proximity to the church.
As the parish grew, there soon became a need for a larger area where Croatians could get together outside of church. In 1977, 12 hectares of land were purchased. By September 1978, that land was cleared and a large hall was constructed. On September 10th, the land was blessed and named “Hrvatski pastoralni centar Kardinal Stepinac” (Croatian Pastoral Center Kardinal Stepinac). This is a name well suited for the Croatians of the Pacific Coast as it stands for harmony, peace, love, and prosperity. Today these 12 acres are used for many religious and folkloric festivities, picnics, and competitions such as soccer. When Croatians are not using the land other cultures also have access to it. In short, it is always busy and it is difficult to come across a Sunday that is not booked.
In addition, the Croatian parish in Vancouver supports Caritas, a charitable organization that helps the poor in Croatia and around the world. Most recently, the community has been supporting victims of the war in Croatia and neighbouring Bosnia-Hrcegovina. As the head of the Croatian parish, the priest shepherds his floc in these charitable works.
Every year special celebratory masses include New Year’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, First Communion, Confirmation, The Assumption of Mary, and Christmas. Because many Croatians in Vancouver share fishing as an occupation, the church also organizes a Fisherman’s Night every fall.
As one can see, the Croatian Catholic Church remains a focal point for the community of the lower mainland.
This brief history would not be complete without singling out Father Bone Prcela. He was our longest serving priest and accomplished more for the parish than any other individual. For many years he was the soul of our community; he always had wise thoughts, kind words, and a friendly smile with whom he spoke. Father Bone Prcela left an unforgettable imprint on our parish.