In the early 1890’s the families of this area were served by Father Boulet, who walked the trails from Bellingham to the Catholic families in Lynden, Sumas, Columbia Valley and Clipper. He said Mass in the homes of various families on a two to three month rotation.
The Lynden congregation rented the Woodman Hall when the numbers became too great to celebrate the Eucharist in private homes. They rotated between the Woodman Hall and the old Hawley Hall and in 1910 the Old Woodman Hall was purchased and converted into a small church at the corner of Depot and Grover Streets in Lynden.
No renovations or changes were made to this structure and area Catholics used this building until the present parish church was built. The move to the current building took place on September 7, 1962.
The first Eucharistic celebration in the Columbia Valley took place on August 23, 1893. This community continued to grow until 1910 when a more convenient place of worship was built on the Sumas-Kendall road. The current St. Peter’s Mission moved to its’ present location in early 1965.
St. Anne’s, in Sumas, was assembled in 1891 and in 1897 the parishioners bought The Fraternal Order of Forester’s Hall. This served as a mission church until it was disbanded in June, 1994.
Our current priest serves St. Peter’s in Deming and St. Joseph’s in Lynden.
The first formal pastor, Rev. Benedict Schweizer, O.S.B. was appointed by Bishop O’Dea to take charge of the Missions of Northeastern Whatcom County; Lynden, Sumas, Columbia Valley and Clipper. It was suggested by the Archdiocese that the priest locate in Lynden. Father Benedict then moved into the rectory on December 9, 1926. He continued to serve these communities until 1936.
A more detailed history is available for viewing at the office.
The following priests have served our communities:
Father J.B. Boulet 1893-1912
Father E.T. McCarthy 1912-1913
Father P.J. Ryan 1913-1918
Father James Wagner 1918-1926
Father Benedict Schweizer 1926-1936
Father Maurice Foley 1936-1944
Father Garret Galvin 1944-1949
Father Andrew Donohoe 1949-1952
Father Maximillian Murray 1952-1955
Father James Van Gogh 1955-1966
Father Kenneth Ogrodowski 1966-1970
Father Gerald Mayovsky 1970-1977
Father John (Jack) Jennings 1977-1980
Father Patrick Keaty 1980-1985
Father James O’Grady 1985-1986
Father Timothy McKenna 1986-1990
Father Gary Southerton 1990-1995
Father Woody McCallister 1995–2001
Father Don Perea 2001
Father Steve Sallis 2001-2002
Father Tim Sauer 2002
Father Emilio Gonzalez 2002-2014
Father Jose Alvarez 2014-2017
Father Francisco Cancino 2017
HISTORY OF ST. PETER MISSION CHURCH
Columbia Valley On August 23, 1893, the first Mass was offered in Columbia Valley, in a school house near the old Mersch's place (which is now the the Thomas Burke's place), to a group of thirteen people. On that very day, thirteen members of the congregation in conformity with the first missionary priest, Father J.B. Boulet (later Monsignor), laid the plans for the first church. A member by the name of Schroll donated the land for the edifice, that was near the Canadian Border and was constructed by the pioneering settlers from cedar logs hewned from the nearby forest. This church was destroyed by a forest fire in 1914.
The next day, August 24, Father Boulet continued his missionary travels by foot to the point in the present Mission of St. Peter's, which was then known as Keyes Post Office (a place now known as the place just north of the old George St. James' farm), and there he offered the Mass and the Sacraments to another group of Catholics. The first recorded Baptism was administered to Laura Victoria Luke, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Luke, by Father Boulet.
However, by 1910, there was a need for a larger and more conveniently situated place of worship, and so the second church was built on the Sumas-Kendall Road. This old church is found nestled amidst the second growth timber that stretches between the ranges of the Cascades. Sometime during the late 1960's and early 1970's we had once again outgrown our present church. In 1972 the St. Joseph's Mission Church at Clipper consolidated with St. Peter's Mission Church and on the 23rd of June, 1974, ground was broken for the new and present St. Peter's Mission Church on the existing property of St. Peter's Hall on the Mt. Baker Highway. The new church was dedicated on April 27, 1975.
Around 1889 Catholic families of German descent blazed the mountainous areas by homesteading. The Zender, the Buckenmeyers, the Warners, the Theisens, the Koehlers, the Nicalays, the Schwabs and the Schrolls were the early settlers.
Much gratitude and praise must be given to the early missionary priests, especially Father Boulet, who kept the faith burning in the souls of the early pioneers. From 1893 to 1905 the Missioner Boulet came, intermittently, to shepherd the souls of Columbia Valley. Father Alphonso Winters of Ferndale and later Sedro Woolley, Father Daniel Daly, L.W. Ferland, A.M. Billian, and George Van Goethem (also of Sedro Woolley) and others assisted in the ministry of St. Peter's Mission from 1905 to 1909.
Two Priest, Fathers D.A. Hanly and Father William J. Noonan (both later became Monsignors) of the Sacred Heart Parish in Bellingham, WA made occasional visits to serve the people.
From 1912 to 1913 the first resident pastor of Sumas, WA, Father E. F. McCarthy, cared for the Mission of St. Peter's. Following from Headquarters in Sumas, were Fathers Peter J. Ryan from 1913-1917, James Wagner, O.M.I., formerly of Canada, from 1917-1918. Then from 1919-1926 Father J.M. Hoewn and from 1925-1926 Father Robert Dillion.
On September 18, 1926, when Lynden received her first resident Pastor, Father Benedict Schwiezer, O.S.B., the Mission of Columbia Valley became attached to the Parish of Lynden and has been attached since that day.