St. Clement Catholic Church

St. Clement Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic parish church located in Ottawa, Canada. It is a Traditional Catholic church serving a mixed English and French speaking parish community. The parish also maintains a strong connection to St. Clement Academy (Grades 7 through 12).


The story of St. Clement's parish is that of a dedicated group of lay people who essentially created their own parish from scratch. In 1968, then-Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde authorized a small group of Catholics who remained attached to the Church's traditional liturgical heritage to continue to use the Latin Tridentine Mass. This group found an older priest who agreed to serve them in this desire, and they received permission to use the chapel of the Monastery of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood on Echo Drive in Ottawa for Mass. In the early 1970s, the community was told to use the Mass of Paul VI, which they did, but using the Latin language.

The Community continued to gather at the Precious Blood Sisters' Monastery until 1984 when the Sisters renovated their chapel from which the Community salvaged the altars. That year the Community acquired a small building of their own in the Ottawa suburb of Gloucester, which they renovated into a chapel, placed under the patronage of Saint Clement, Pope and Martyr, and furnished with the salvaged altars.

The Community continued to use that chapel until the summer of 1993, when Archbishop Plourde's successor, Archbishop Marcel Gervais, made available the building pictured, a purpose-built church complete with rectory at the corner of Mann and Russell Avenues in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood of Ottawa. Built in 1957, this building had housed a French-language Catholic parish, St. Pie X, until 1983 when the building had been sold to the Maronite diocese of Ottawa and renamed St. Charbel's. At the time the Maronite community in Ottawa was growing rapidly as a result of the Lebanese Civil War. In 1993 the Maronites moved to a larger church in Vanier. With this new church building, the Archbishop elevated the St. Clement Latin Community of Ottawa to the rank of a quasi-parish.

The Community had been served on an ad-hoc basis by three older priests (one of them being Fr. John Mole, OMI) who were familiar with the rubrics of the Tridentine Mass. However, with failing health of all of them, the Community was concerned that it might have secured a permanent building but would be without a priest. At about that time, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) was getting ready to ordain its first Canadian-born man. The FSSP is a Fraternity of priests who are loyal to the Holy Father and are dedicated to preserving the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and all 1962 forms and liturgical books for the Sacraments, as well as fostering authentic Catholic teaching and devotion. Archbishop Gervais discussed the problem with the Fraternity and it was agreed that the FSSP would assign a priest to minister to the needs of the St. Clement Community, making it the first personal parish entrusted to the FSSP in their history. The first FSSP-appointed priest, the young Fr. Charles Ryan, had only been ordained a few weeks before his assignment to St. Clement on New Year's Day, 1995. The FSSP has been serving the parish ever since, and those presently there are: Fr. Philip Creurer of Canada (pastor), Fr. Garrick Huang of Canada (assistant), and Fr. Matthew Goddard of the United Kingdom (assistant). Past assistant and in-residence priests are: Fr. Hubert Bizard, Fr. Arnaud de Boisse, Fr. Mark Wojdelski, Fr. Vianney Le Roux, Fr. Joseph Lee, and Fr. Denis Cuchet.

In 1997, on the patronal feast (23 November), Archbishop Gervais erected St. Clement as a full canonical bilingual indult parish serving the faithful wishing to worship according to the ancient Roman rites.

Parishioner Bernard Pothier wrote a full history of the origins of St. Clement Parish which was published on the occasion of its thirtieth anniversary in 1998. Copies are available from the parish and from select websites.

In the summer of 2005, the church was renovated. A large arch suspended on Corinthian columns was built on the wall in the sanctuary to encase the crucifix. There were also minor renovations done on the side altars of Mary and Joseph, as small arches around the statues were constructed. A campaign was also started to purchase stained-glass windows for the church and to date all but the largest windows in the choir loft have been installed.

In 2008 the parish celebrated its 40th anniversary. Current Archbishop Terrence Prendergast celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass in January 2008, as well as May 2009, when he also conferred confirmations.

Parish Life

The parish is very active with many groups including the Knights of Columbus, the Belles of St. Clement, Domus Christiani, a praesidium of the Legion of Mary, a choir which sings Gregorian Chant and polyphony, a youth choir, a Knights of the Altar guild, the Friends of St. Dominic Savio (a children's group), a youth group whose various activities include sports (usually soccer and ultimate frisbee), cleaning the church, watching movies, praying the Rosary, and listening to short talks by the priests, and the Frassati Young Adult Group which meets occasionally for dinner and spiritual discussion. The parish also has catechism classes for both children and adults taught by the priests, singing of the Divine Office, and many annual social events including breakfasts, a yard sale, a bazaar, retreats, and an All Saints Day expo. The parish organizes and participates in an annual three-day, 100 km walking pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine at Notre-Dame-du-Cap in Quebec and sends a chapter biennially to the Pentecost Paris-to-Chartres pilgrimage in France.

FSSP Parish Priests at St. Clement

Fr. Philip Creurer (2006–present)

Fr. Hubert Bizard (2005–2006)

Fr. Robert Novokowsky (2003–2005)

Fr. Charles van Vliet (2001–2003)

Fr. Louis Campbell (1999–2001)

Fr. Charles Ryan (1995–1999)

References and Further Reading
  • St. Clement School
  • St. Clement parish website
  • The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
  • The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (Canada)
  • Marie Reine du Canada Pilgrimage
  • The Archdiocese of Ottawa
  • "Latin mass divides Catholics" Ottawa Citizen April 8, 1998
  • "Latin Mass Appeals to Youth" Catholic Register
  • Una Voce, an international group of lay Tridentine Mass enthusiasts loyal to the Pope
  • "Summorum Pontificum", the Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI given motu proprio
  • Notre-Dame de Chrétienté, organizers of the Pentecost Pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres, France

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via