In the early 19th century, Owen Sound had no Catholic church. Jesuit missionaries from Wikwemikong, and later from Guelph, came by from time to time. In 1854, St Mary's was founded as a parish of the (then) Diocese of Toronto. It extended very nearly to Windsor. Our first pastor, Fr M Muncog, drowned in 1856 off Walpole Island, and the Jesuits stepped in again.
By 1858 Hamilton was a Diocese of its own and sent Fr Vincent Bardou to us. Five years later, the Basilian Fathers arrived. First Fr MJ Ferguson, then Fr John Cushing, then Fr François-Xavier Granottier, who was to remain until 1917, and of whom many stories are still told.
During Fr Granottier's years, St Mary's Church, Rectory, and School were built, as were the mission churches in Chatsworth, the Irish Block, Wiarton, Meaford, Thornbury, Dornoch, Glenelg, Melanchthon, and Hepworth.
In subsequent years, St Mary's assumed the Southampton mission from Chepstow, built churches in Port Elgin and Sauble Beach, and consolidated the congregations in Lion's Head and Tobermory.
In 2008, after a 145 year presence in the parish, the Basilian Fathers ceased staffing St Mary's & the Missions due to the dwindling number of priests in their religious order. St Mary's & the MIssions is once again being staffed by Diocesan priests.
The parish currently covers the northern half of Grey and Bruce counties (approximately 1/3 the area of the entire Diocese of Hamilton). Besides the Owen Sound church, there are seven missions, three elementary schools (one of them French), and a high school. Four hospitals and 12 extended care facilities round out the priests' pastoral responsibilities. Parishioners are active in a broad range of ministries: liturgical, custodial, pastoral, and social.
~ with excerpts from 'A History of the Diocese of Hamilton', 2006