Jim Graves is a Catholic writer and editor living in Newport Beach, California. He previously served as Managing Editor for the Diocese of Orange Bulletin, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Orange, California. His work has appeared in the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Cal Catholic Daily and Catholic World Report.
The Western United States, including up into Canada, has many beautiful islands, some of which are inhabited and home to terrific Catholic churches. Here are four from islands of varying size you might like to visit:
1. St. Monica, Mercer Island, Washington (https://www.stmonicami.org/)
St. Monica is located in the Archdiocese of Seattle, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Seattle. It is Mercer Island’s only Catholic church, surrounded by beautiful trees and expensive homes (Bill Gates, former Microsoft head, lives there). The church is more traditional in style; there are some small shrines on the grounds as well. There is a perpetual adoration chapel to the right of the front entrance; ask the parish office for the code to get in. There is an outdoor Stations of the Cross and shrine behind the church. It is a vibrant parish with many activities.
2. St. John Vianney Chapel, Balboa Island (http://sjvchapel.net/)
St. John’s is a beautiful old church which dates back to the 1940’s. It is located in the wealthy and densely-populated Balboa Island area of Newport Beach. It has no school and is a parish mission of Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish, Newport Beach. It is bright, decorated well and always has fresh flowers in the front. After Sunday Mass, stroll Marine Avenue and enjoy many tourist shops and restaurants. It is also a short walk from Newport Harbor. St. John Vianney is the only church on the island. It is easily identifiable by the beautiful mosaic above its entryway.
3. St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Victoria, British Columbia (http://www.standrewscathedral.com/)
St. Andrew’s is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Victoria, British Columbia, which encompasses all of Vancouver Island (there are multiple ferry routes from Washington State and Vancouver, or you can fly). It is a majestic old church built in 1892, and features Victorian Gothic architecture, including a 175-foot spire. Its interior features many traditional stained glass windows and artwork. It is showing signs of its age, though, so expect to see ongoing renovation work when you arrive.
4. Our Lady of Fatima Church, Victoria, British Columbia (http://www.blessedjohnhenrynewmanfellowship.ca/)
The Fellowship of Blessed John Henry Newman worships at Our Lady of Fatima Church, also in Victoria. The community is part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. On January 1, 2012, Pope Benedict established the Ordinariate for groups of Anglicans in the United States desiring full communion with the Catholic Church. The community’s original members were received into the Catholic Church in 2012; since then, they’ve been joined by other former Anglicans as well as Catholics. The community is part of the Ordinariate’s Canadian Deanery of St. John the Baptist. Similar Ordinariate parishes can be found in communities in the U.S. and Canada. Although Our Lady of Fatima priests are located in Victoria, they are under the authority of the Ordinariate, headquartered in Houston, Texas. The liturgy used at St. Columba comes from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, and uses old-style wording such as “thee” and “thou.” If the priests celebrate Mass at other Catholic parishes, however, they will use the standard English New Mass. Msgr. Peter Wilkinson, the community’s retired administrator, was formerly an Anglican bishop.