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Wednesday August 19th, 2015

Posted at 8:46pm

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Wednesday afternoon, the Ontario Heritage Trust unveiled a provincial plaque at St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church in Downtown Windsor to commemorate The Catholic Colored Mission of Windsor.

“We are honored that the Trust has chosen to unveil a provincial plaque to the first Roman Catholic mission for Blacks in Canada. Reverend Wagner had a deep understanding of the issues faced by the Black community in Windsor and was passionate about elevating their position in society. Now, over 120 years later, he would be amazed to see the impact the Mission has had on the community and in the province,” said Daphne Clarke from St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church.

The English plaque reads as follows:

The first Roman Catholic mission for Blacks in Canada was established in Windsor in St. Alphonsus Parish in 1887 under the leadership of the Very Reverend Dean James Theodore Wagner. The “Catholic Colored Mission of Windsor” was created to serve disadvantaged Black children, while encouraging Blacks in Windsor to adopt the Catholic faith. It was first located in the original frame church building at Goyeau Street and Park Street East. With the support and partnership of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph (RHSJ), a new mission school and orphanage was built next to the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital near Erie Street. The sisters of the RHSJ were responsible for the management of the mission. Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary taught at the school. The mission educated and cared for vulnerable children of all races. The school and orphanage was an important initiative that provided access to education and child welfare at a time before government-funded social services were available.

Photos from The Ontario Heritage Trust

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