Community Population: 2011 Census - 422 Catholic Population: 100-150 (estimated) Regular Church attendees: 10-12 Mailing Address: PO Box 38, Faro, YT Y0B 1K0 Rectory: Lot 115 Campbell Street, Faro, YT Y0B 1K0
The builder of the church structure is Fr. P. Rigaud, OMI. The building, machined tongue and groove cedar logs, came from Calumet where it had served as the local school. The rectory is attached to the Church. Catholic parishioners comfortably and frequently would hang around the rectory. The church had a full basement that brought revenue by rentals. Just as the building of the town commenced and some buildings were been built, a large forest fire threatened the whole town and all the buildings. Fr. Rigaud called it as a frightening situation.
Faro was built as a town to support the mine and Cyprus Anvil was the first company to operate the mine. This company was very good to civil social groups. The churches benefited from this arrangement. Suddenly, the price for zinc ore fell on the international markets and Cyprus Anvil had to leave town. This brought the town to its knees. So much so, that very few people remained to live in this town so recently built. Fr. Rigaud was seen on CBC news report speaking of this dilemma and difficult time. Fr. Rigaud was very involved with the youth of town. Because of his appreciation for hockey, he was the main force behind the Faro minor hockey tournaments. In honour of his efforts, the local hockey arena has been named after him. He was, also, a driving member of the local Rotary Club, that did many different functions and projects in town. For these efforts he was the recipient of the highest award that could be given in the Rotary organization.
Father Rigaud has been known to use a snowmobile for extensive periods during the winter. During one of these times, a group of men and himself have snowmobiled into Norman Wells. This is quite a feat when you think that it was done cross country with no road markings along the way. His love for hunting and fishing is well known. So much so, that out in the bush is a shelter that has been the gathering place for many expeditions and pleasant exchange of stories and experiences. In 1978, a duplex was constructed with a loan from the Catholic Church Extension Society. The duplex has served as a living quarters for teachers, clergy house, rental accommodations and Sisters’ house. At least two Sister communities have called this their home. The first group was the Sisters of Charity of Halifax. The sisters were Sr. Francis Yates and Sr. Pat Langley. They were teachers in the public school system but also played an active role in the parish especially with parish visitations and sacramental preparations.
Sr. Francis had a very strong influence in the town. She worked with youth who had their struggles and with parents who needed assistance and understanding. When she left town, her name was given to one of the streets in town. Sr. Pat stayed in town a little longer and worked among the many students. She left for her community in Whitehorse in 1987. In 1990, two sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph came to town. Sr. Pat Moran was a CSJ of Peterborough and Sr. Olga Barilgo was a CSJ of Toronto. Sr. Olga was a psychologist who was able to stay in Faro for one year before being called by her community to work in Alberta. Sr. Pat was a parish worker and substituted at school as needs arose.
When the Father left was a very generous outpouring of appreciation from all the people of the town and area. A large reception with buffet was held in the meeting room of the arena for the occasion. The villagers gave him a canopy for his new truck and a burse to do some visiting of previous Faroites. He was succeeded by Fr. Tim Coonen, OMI, with whom Father exchanged places in Teslin – at the other end of the Canol Road. Fr. Tim did some very creative renovations to the rectory in Faro. Sr. Pat stayed three years before going to Haines Junction for one year. She was a great help to Fr. Tim Coonen during his stay in Faro. After Cyprus Anvil sold the mine, a new company, Curragh Resources, commenced production. This firm was unable to be as generous to the service and civil groups. Life was different. This company suffered from a falling world price for the lead-zinc ore and as a result the mine had to close in 1993. This left the town devasted. Again the people had to leave town for their livelihood, and again the town was nearly a ghost town.
Fr. Tim played an active role in the town by assisting the ambulance services wherever possible. Because of his civil mindedness and involvement, he was hired by the local placement and retraining board to allocated funds in a non-partial way to those who were eligible to receive this assistance while relocating after the mine closed. Shortly after his work with this program was finished, he moved to Dawson City. Fr. Rigaud and Fr. Tim were both well known for the healthy and productive vegetable gardens. Fr. Tim’s replacement was Fr. Andrew Cuschieri from Toronto. Fr. Andrew stayed in Faro during the difficult time when a town was nearly non-existent. Father returned to Toronto in 1995. St. Pat Moran, CSJ came back to become the parish administrator in the summer of 1995. Fr. P. Veyrat, OMI from Ross River came to say Mass two times per month. Sister lived in the rectory and made a pleasant atmosphere for all to visit.
[Diocesan priest Fr. Ain Leetma served as an interim priest for a months during the late summer early fall of 2009. Another Diocesan priest, Fr. John Vines has been parish priest since 2011. Currently there is no resident priest but a couple serve as lay Ministers close by in Ross River.
RESOURCE: Official website of the Town; “As Time Goes On” by H. Spruyt, OMI; Questionnaire Survey; Interview with active church members
St. Kateri Pastoral Centre Roman Catholic Diocese of Whitehorse 5119 – 5th Avenue Whitehorse, YT Y1A 1L5 Phone: (867) 667-2052 Fax: (867) 667-4713