HISTORY OF ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA HAMILTON

St. Anthony’s Parish was founded by Bishop Dowling in 1910 to assist the Italian immigrants in Hamilton. Its first pastor became Rev. John F. Bonomi C.S. (Scalabrinian Father). Initially, the masses were celebrated in a chapel at St. Ann's School (Barton and Sherman). In May 1912 the first church built on Clinton St. was dedicated. In response to the growing Italian community soon a new church was in need. In 1951, a new rectory was built and on 3 October 1954, the dedication of the new St. Anthony of Padua Church was presided over by Bishop Ryan with Fr. Mascari, the city's clergy and a multitude of Italian parishioners and friends. Since then many Scalabrinian, as well as diocesan priests, served the parish. From June 25th, 2008 to 2018 Rev. Janusz Rogiński, SAC (Pallottine Father) was the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church, and presently the Very Rev. Francesco Cucchi is the current pastor of the Church.

1st Addition of St. Anthony of Padua Parish

on Clinton Street, Hamilton, ON

Monsignor Giovanni Battista Scalabrini

In response to the need caused by the Italian immigration of the 1870s and 1880s, Monsignor Giovanni Baptist Scalabrini, of Piacenza, Italy founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, Scalabrinian Fathers to assist the Italian immigrants in the new world. In the early 20th century, in response to the growing Italian population in Hamilton, Bishop Dowling asked for an Italian speaking priest. On 6 March 1908, the Scalabrinians sent to serve the Italian speaking community, who gathered in the chapel of the St. Mary's Cathedral.

Fr. John F. Bonomi
Father John F. Bonomi.gif

In 1910, St. Anthony of Padua was founded as the first Italian national parish in Hamilton. Fr. Bonomi conducted religious services in Italian for the Italian community in East Hamilton in a chapel at St. Ann's School (Barton and Sherman). In 1912, the St. Anthony's community built their own Church on Clinton St., thanks to a donation from Bishop Dowling. The dedication took place on 20 May 1912. In 1923, Our Lady of All Souls Church was founded due to the growing immigrants in the Barton and James area, and Fr. Bonomi became Pastor of All Souls as well. In 1933, St. Anthony's became a mission of St. Ann's with Monsignor Joseph Englert as Pastor and Rev. Charles Mascari as the special assistant to the Italians. Fr. Mascari was the first Canadian born priest of Italian origin in Hamilton and a vocation of All Souls.

Fr. Charles T. Mascari

Fr. Mascari had a vision for the establishment of a new St. Anthony's Church. With time, this vision became a reality. After World War II, many Italians migrated to Hamilton's East end, so there was a need for a parish. In 1948, with the assistance of Thomas Ross, M.P. for Hamilton East, two blocks of land were acquired on Barton St., between Leinster and Melrose streets. In 1951, a new rectory was built and Rev. Carlo Bianchi, the first St. Anthony's Parish vocation was assigned as Fr. Mascari's Associate Pastor. On 27 June 1954, Bishop Ryan laid the cornerstone for the new Church of St. Anthony of Padua.  

The architect was Mr. Frank Burcher. On 3 October 1954, the dedication of the new St. Anthony of Padua Church was presided over by Bishop Ryan with Fr. Mascari, the city's clergy and a multitude of Italian parishioners and friends. Fr. Mascari, along with his associates Fr. Bianchi and Fr. Stephen Sardo, a native son of Hamilton and All Souls vocation, cared for the spiritual and temporal well being of their people. The priests encouraged Italian parents to have their children pursue higher education. The fruit of this vision is demonstrated in the great number of second-generation Italians who have succeeded in the religious, professional, political, commercial, civic and industrial fields. Around Fr. Mascari and the clergy in the parish, the immigrants found protection against injustice and were able to practice their faith in their language. The completion of the new Church was a great source of pride for the Italian community, who had sacrificed greatly and contributed immensely to make their dream of an Italian national church a reality, whose legacy was passed on to their children and grandchildren.

Fr. Stephen Sardo

The Filippino Sisters worked at St. Anthony's in the teaching and home visitation ministries for about five years. On 11 February 1963, Fr. Mascari died suddenly and Fr. Stephen Sardo succeeded him as Pastor working with many associates until 1975 to build a solid faith community. Under Fr. Sardo's leadership, the first floor of the convent was converted into a beautiful hall and the mortgage on the new buildings was successfully paid off with creative fundraising campaigns. Fr. Sardo impacted the lives of many parishioners including the vocations of Fr. Roger Formosi and Fr. Anthony Ciavarro. The parish is grateful to our founder Fr. Mascari, Fr. Sardo and their Associate Pastors, who served our parish with dedication, affection and zeal for bringing people to God.

The Missionaries of St. Charles (Scalabrinians) returned to St. Anthony's Church in 1975 with Rev. Tarcisio Bagatin C.S. and Rev. Walter Tonelotto C.S. Rev. Bagatin reorganized the St. Anthony's Feast, forming a new committee, a bigger celebration with a Tridium, a solemn Mass with the Bishop and a procession with the statue of St. Anthony throughout the surrounding neighbourhood. Continuing on the work of his Diocesan and Scalabrinian predecessors, Rev. Joseph Bizzotto involved the parish organizations such as the Altar Society, the Catholic Woman's League, il Gruppo dell' Amicizia, the Holy Name Society, the Bingo workers in the parish's life. He also invited the Knights of Columbus (Fr. Mascari Council 8380) to work with the parish to assist those in need. Fr. Bizzotto, with his successor Rev. Joseph Bellan C.S. and their associate Rev. Hector Sartori C.S., inspired people and these parish organizations to serve with love. With the laity's cooperation, these priests founded the Parish Council in 1989 and implemented Diocesan initiatives for spiritual renewal such as the Renew program. Fr. Sartori worked well with youth forming the St. Anthony's Soccer Club and the parish Youth Group.

Like their Diocesan predecessors, the Scalabrinian fathers formed much-dedicated youths who serve their Church and community. One of these youth was Rev. Peter Ciallella, C.S. who was inspired by Fathers Sartori and Bellan and has dedicated his life to serving God's people as a Scalabrinian missionary priest. St. Anthony's Church is very grateful to God and their families for the gifts of our vocations: Rev. Carlo Bianchi, Rev. Anthony Ciavarro, Rev. Roger Formosi, Rev. Peter Ciallella C.S., Rev. Anthony Mancini C.R. and Rev. Francis Sienna. We also acknowledge the vocations of the following religious woman: Sr. Mary Carmel Irma DeRubeis, C.SJ, Sr. Diane Marchetti, C.SJ, Sr. Rita Villani, C.S.J., Sr. Beverly Ghilardi, C.S.S.F., Sr. Carla Maria Contestabile, C.SJ. and Sr. Gemma Golino, S.S.N.D. Our community is proud of these vocations and their service to God and the Church. Fr. Ralph Villella C.S. continued the first-rate service to our parish with his associates, encouraging parishioners to remember those in need such as the poor, the elderly and the shut-ins. Under Fr. Villella's stewardship, St. Anthony's participated in three World Youth Days with His Holiness Pope John Paul II in Denver 1993, Paris, 1997 and Toronto 2002 when our parish hosted 150 Italian and Belgian pilgrims at Cathedral High School.

 

In August 2002, The Scalabrinians relinquished the parish to the Diocese and Rev. Robert Sims was appointed Pastor. In cooperation with the priests of All Souls, Fr. Sims continued the tradition of bilingual service to our community and worked with the 50th Anniversary Committee to plan our celebration and restore the Bell Tower. Fr. Sims served the parish until 2007. Then Fr. Norbert Rous served the community for almost a year. From June 25th, 2008 to 2018, Fr. Janusz Rogiński of the Pallottine Fathers was the Pastor, and presently the Very Rev. Francesco Cucchi serves the whole Italian and English community as the Parish Pastor.

 

Thank you to all the Diocesan and Scalabrinian clergy, religious and sisters, who have served our parish with love and a passion for evangelization. The clergy's good service and faithful example bring people closer to God. Over the years, St. Anthony's has been a place of worship, spiritual growth and a community of hope to many. It has served people from all over our city and world, especially the Italian immigrants, who call this parish their home. We thank God for our Church and all who have been a part of it.