Langley, B.C., was known as Langley Prairie when Catholic worship began here over a century ago. The land was flat then and now and mostly suitable for farming, with dust in the summer and mud in the winter, to make up for the lack of hills.
In Langley, the first Catholic masses were held in 1878 in the home of Joseph and Georgina Michaud, two pioneers of the community. Their home was surrounded each Sunday by wagons driven by Catholic farming families to the timber house, from the surrounding farmlands that circled Langley. A portrait of the first priest in Langley still hangs in the old home, that is now an historic site.
But as the place grew so did the buildings the worshippers occupied and a schoolhouse – still standing on Fraser Highway – served as an early church.
In 1925, the first St. Joseph’s church was finished. The little wooden building seated about 150 people, more than enough room for the 25 families that were registered in the parish. Because the parish organized theatre nights, card tournaments, dances and live music, with bazaars, teas and balls, it provided much of the community’s social life in the 1920s and 1930s. The first priest was a Father Tevlin.
The first church was replaced over the years by a succession of buildings.
In 1943, a fire destroyed the church and its rectory. Masses for a while were held in a Canadian Army athletic hall and a local theatre until a new church was opened in 1945.
Many wedding receptions have taken place in the parish hall, as well as funeral gatherings, annual community dances and a wide assortment of other events.
In 2000, under the guidance of the pastor of the day, Father Joseph Ponti, a new church was opened and it continues to this day.
The parish school, St. Catherine's Catholic Elementary School, 20244 32 Ave., Langley, offers classes from kindergarten to grade seven.