St. Anthony's Church has looked after the spiritual needs of our community for more than 80 years.
Beginning in 1912 as a mission outpost at the corner of Banning and Dufferin Streets, St Anthony's became a full-fledged parish despite some serious setbacks. In 1914, the church basement burned down. In less than a year, Rev. D. Tomaselli began rebuilding the church. Three years later, in 1918, St. Anthony's Church was officially opened.
In the years that followed, the church took on a larger role in serving immigrants because of its location within the Italian community of Port Arthur. St. Anthony's soon became the focal point for this community offering at least one mass and other services in the Italian language. The large influx of immigrants in the 1950's and 1960's enhanced even more the church's role as national church while retaining its mission as territorial church as well.
Soon the Portuguese immigrant community was welcomed into its fold. In 1969, with the arrival of Rev. Umberto Rizzi, St. Anthony's Church was passed into the hands of the Scalabrini Fathers.
On March 6, 1990 tragedy struck St. Anthony's. A devastating fire completely destroyed the building. Within a matter of days, Rev. Ermete Nazzani and a committee of parishioners began the difficult task of rebuilding and to continue serving the parishioners. Weekly masses were offered in the gymnasium of Holy Cross School, while baptisms, weddings and funerals took place at Corpus Christi and St. Andrew's churches. Land was soon acquired on the corner of Hilldale and Dawson Road.
On April 28, 1991 the ground breaking ceremony took place with the participation of Bishop John A. O'Mara, Fr. Nazzani, Fr. Rizzi and many other dignitaries. On May 31, 1992 the new St. Anthony's was dedicated to the glory of God. Bishop O'Mara celebrated the dedication mass assisted by a number of priests, including Fr. Richard Bezzegato who had replaced Fr. Nazzani.
Built on one of the best locations of the entire city, St. Anthony's Church, now under the guidance of Fr. Lino Santi and Fr. Rizzi, continues to serve the Italian community of Port Arthur and all the Catholics who live within the church's boundaries. Fr. Lino, who had already served St. Anthony's in the past, ably assisted Fr. Rizzi, will take the church into the 21st century to carry on the work of God.
For further information on the history of St. Anthony's Church, please refer to St. Anthony's - Diamond Jubilee book, written by Anita Roy. For a copy of this book, please contact the Rectory.