The territory covered large parts of what is now the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. The Bishop, his nine Oblate priests and a few brothers ministered to about 12,000 aboriginal peoples, 5,000 Métis and a few hundred European Immigrants.
Members of women religious orders made a substantive and valued contribution to the evolution of the Catholic community in the Diocese of St. Albert. These sisters taught schools, cared for children, established hospitals and care facilities across the diocese. In 1870, in order to deal with the smallpox epidemic, the Grey Nuns built an addition on to their mission, which was considered to be the first hospital of the area. Construction of the new Grey Nuns residence was stared in 1882 and completed five years later. The Sisters however refused to move into the new building because they felt Bishop Grandin’s residence was no longer suitable for him and the other Oblates. They persuaded the Bishop, who reluctantly agreed, to occupy the new structure while they moved into the old Oblate residence. In their new home the Sisters continued with their ministries of teaching, nursing, and care of orphans. Through prayer, determination and hard work the missionaries made steady progress.
Often referred to as “The Angel of St. Albert” Bishop Grandin died on June 3, 1903 at the age of 73. In a statement that served as his will, he wrote, “I have absolutely nothing to bequeath, nothing belongs to personally. I, myself, belong to God and I am his thing…” The missionary Bishop however did leave a diocese of 18,000 Catholics in 55 parishes and missions served by 52 priests.