A Brief History of Our Lady
of the Airways Parish Our Lady of the Airways Parish Church was borne out of the need for the Catholic faithful of Malton to have a place of worship. Malton was part of Toronto Township and was called Malton Police Village. Before there was a Malton parish, the few inhabitants of this Village would travel to other parishes, notably St. Patrick's Church in Wildfield, established in 1830. Wildfield is now a part of Brampton. A land for the airport was purchased by the Toronto Port Authority in 1937 in the Malton vicinity. Thus was built the Malton International Airport (presently called the Pearson International Airport).
With the advent of WWII, an aircraft manufacturing company, the Victory Aircraft, was established in Malton and was later sold to the A. V. Roe company. It was in Malton where Canada's first supersonic jet aircraft, the "Avro Arrow", was made; a fighter plane considered to be years ahead of its time. The complexion of Malton was now changing when the housing of military and civilian personnel was factored in. The presence of the Air Force at the airport and people using Malton as conduit in their travels made this town a beehive of activity. With the military personnel and the number of Catholic families growing in Malton, a Mass was celebrated in the Community Centre by the Air Force Chaplain, Fr. John Moss and by Fr. Ralph Egan of Wildfield. This, in essence, was the beginning of Malton becoming a mission church of St. Patrick's Church in 1944.
In the meantime, plans for establishing a church and a Catholic school were percolating. Through the initiative of Fr. Ralph Egan, a building used as a cafeteria by the Victory Airplane factory during the war, was bought and moved to Beverley Street and was converted into a small quaint church. By the spring of 1948, Our Lady of the Airways earned its name as a mission church. But why the name "Our Lady of the Airways?" Fr. Egan was no rocket scientist but he figured out that if the church is near an airport and above were airplanes all over, he might as well have the help of Our Lady in his spiritual ministrations to those residents in the area and pray for those transients that they arrive safely to their destinations. Fr. Egan felt that "Our Lady of the Airways" was the appropriate name for the mission church. The parochial motto is "Super Pennas Ventorum". Translated, it is "Upon the Wings of the Wind."
The church served as a school on weekdays during the first few months until a Quonset hut was available and placed across the church. It was divided into classrooms and Our Lady of the Airways School was opened on the 5th of December, 1948.
Msgr. Ralph Egan, since 1941, had been the administrator of St. Patrick Church and was appointed Parish Priest in 1946. The first Parish Priest to be assigned at Our Lady of the Airways was Fr. W. Vincent Egan, no relation to Fr. Ralph Egan. Fr. Vincent Egan stayed with the Malton parish from 1948 to 1958. Then followed Fr. Alfred P. Caley, 1958-1962; Fr. James G. Alcorn, 1962-1963; Fr. Howard J. MacMillan, 1963-1968; and Fr. Andrew H. Stevenson, 1968-1969.
After Fr. Andrew H. Stevenson, Fr. Joseph A. Nolan became the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Airways in 1969. A year before he came, Malton became a satellite of the new Town of Mississauga. The Mississauga Township decided that the church building in Beverley Street was becoming unsafe for worship. When Fr. Nolan arrived, there were already two parish schools; Our Lady of the Airways (1948) and Holy Cross (1967). A decision was made that the alternate place to gather for worship was the Holy Cross School at Morningstar Drive and Darcel Avenue.
During Fr. Nolan's tenure, three more schools were built: St. Raphael, 1969, St. Gabriel, 1974 and Ascension of Our Lord Secondary School, 1977. However, in 2004, St. Gabriel School on Brandon Gate Drive and Our Lady of the Airways School on Beverley Street were closed. St. Gabriel's students were absorbed by the Holy Cross School. The St. Gabriel premises now function as an Adult Learning Centre. Our Lady of the Airways students were transferred to St. Raphael School.
The future of Our Lady of the Airways was now at the crossroads: to renovate the present church building or to relocate. At this point Malton had grown into a thriving community with the influx of new immigrants coming from all over the world. Consideration had to be made of the new Catholic population that was part of those numbers of immigrants. Also, because the Airport was getting busier and noisier and the fact that the location of the old church was near the flight path of airplanes, the Holy Cross School vicinity had enough space to offer an ideal place for a church structure.
Darcel Avenue became the new address of Our Lady of the Airways Parish Church. The Most Reverend Philip Pocock officially blessed the new Church in 1971. Later on, the Church structure was extended to accommodate the growing number of Catholic families settling in the area. Its present form was completed in 1978. The seating accommodation is 950 and the basement hall can hold 200.
Our Lady of the Airways Parish Church in Malton became part of the City of Mississauga when the city was incorporated in 1974.
Meanwhile, as referred to earlier, the Ascension of Our Lord Secondary School at Anaka Drive started as a middle school when Fr. Nolan requested the assistance of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Montreal to run the School. Five sisters readily agreed to assist running the school and be part of the Board Office from 1978 to 1983. When the province of Ontario approved the full funding of Catholic high schools in 1984, Ascension of Our Lord High School added grades 11, 12 and 13.
Sources: OLA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet Kevin J. McCarthy Ascension of Our Lord Secondary School website