Founded in 1908, Catholic Missions In Canada, then known as The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada, has come to the aid of isolated missions across the country where a lack of resources makes it impossible to maintain a Catholic presence without outside financial help.
In 1905, the official status of the Catholic Church in Canada and the United States was changed from being a “mission” church, and thus receiving funding for its operation, to being an “independent” church having to finance its own operation. This change presented great difficulties in many areas.
On September 23, 1908, Monsignor E. Alfred Burke from the Diocese of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, founded “The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada,” to raise funds to help “cultivate the missionary spirit in the clergy and the people,” and “to preserve the Faith of Jesus Christ among Catholic immigrants” then resettling in the Canadian West.
Papal approval and pontifical status were granted to The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada by Pope Pius X on June 9, 1910, for “the protection and diffusion and the preservation of the Catholic Faith in the territories of the Dominion of Canada.”
In the early days, the Society undertook to bring the Church to thousands of Catholics settling in Western Canada. It began using funds collected in the East to build small chapels across the prairies and in the mountain areas. Later, it encouraged priests in the Atlantic provinces to go West and serve in the remote and priestless parishes. As the need for missionaries grew, the Society began supporting the education of seminarians.
In 1999, the name of the Society was changed to Catholic Missions In Canada to better reflect its mission and outreach.