History of Catholicism in New Hampshire

The history of Catholicism in New Hampshire can be traced to the mid-1600’s. The first Mass was celebrated among early American Indian Tribes over 300 years ago.

With the support of Three Rivers Diocese in Quebec, Canada, the first Catholic Church in New Hampshire, St. Mary’s Church, was built in 1823 in Claremont, where it still stands.

In 1830 the first Catholic parish in New Hampshire, St. Aloysius, was established in Dover. In 1853, Rome founded the Diocese of Portland, Maine, which included all of Maine and New Hampshire. In 1884, the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire was founded.

New Hampshire’s first Bishop was Dennis M. Bradley, who was from Ireland, immigrated to Manchester in 1854, and was educated at Holy Cross and then at St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York. Bishop Bradley was also chiefly responsible for founding the first Catholic Hospital, Sacred Heart, as well as St. Anslem College.

Source: “Diocesan History.” Parable July/August 2009: 16-25

History of St. Joseph’s Church Parish

St. Joseph’s parish includes St. Catherine of Sienna Church in Lisbon, NH, dedicated on August 9, 1909.

The Catholic population in the Woodsville and East Haverhill area, just prior to 1900, included French and Irish lumberman and farmers from the Canadian Maritime Provinces and Quebec, and laborers who arrived in Woodsville during the construction of the railroad.

Father Patrick S. Cahill, first Pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, served a parish that included the villages of Haverhill, Bath, Lisbon, Landaff, Monroe, Lyman, Carroll, and Lincoln. The only church building in the parish was at Twin Mountain in Carroll. Services in the other towns were held in schoolhouses, town halls, and private residences.

Several months after Father Cahill’s arrival in Woodsville in 1896, Mass was celebrated two times a month in the hall over the Central Fire Station. During this time plans were being made to erect a church in town.

Community spirit and ecumenical enthusiasm was very much evident in the fact that non-Catholics contributed over $1,000 toward the erection of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Catholic sponsored fairs, entertainments, and suppers were well attended by Catholic and non-Catholic supporters in the area as well.

James Dalton, the same builder who had built the chapel in Wells River, was commissioned to build St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. The dedication of the brand new St. Joseph’s Church took place on November 7, 1897. The Right Reverend Denis M. Bradley presided at the dedication services, and the services were reported in the November 8, 1897 issue of the Manchester Union.

History of St. Catherine of Sienna Church

In January of 1896, Lisbon was part of the territory assigned to the new St. Joseph Parish in Woodsville, NH. Until 1909, a priest came from Woodsville once a month to celebrate Mass in Franklin Hall on Main Street in Lisbon. On August 24, 1907, the site of the proposed church at  the northwest corner of Highland and Kelsea Avenues was acquired. According to letters from Rev. Thomas Redden to Bishop George Guertin, the church was built from 1908-1909. On August 9, 1909, St. Catherine of Sienna Church was dedicated and blessed by Bishop Guertin. It was a mission church of St. Joseph’s.

On May 3, 1921 the second rectory site behind the church was acquired. On July 16, 1958, the first rectory and lot on the southwest corner of Highland and Kelsea Avenue was acquired.

On September 10, 1958, by proclamation of Bishop Matthew Brady, St. Catherine’s became a canonically established parish with a resident pastor, Rev. Raymond Desjardins, who served until September 20,1967.  At  the same time, September of 1958, Our Lady of the Snows in Franconia was made a mission of the new St. Catherine’s parish.

In 1976-1978, the first rectory building and the lot on which it was located was deeded to the Lisbon School District in exchange for the building of the second rectory located behind the church. The Lisbon School Supervisory Union paid for the construction as a project of the vocational education class. This new rectory was used until it was sold in October of 1997. Today, St. Catherine of Sienna Parish Church is a mission of St. Joseph’s, and the pastor resides in the rectory in Woodsville.

Sources: Diocese of Manchester, Manchester, NH;Pickwick, Hazel Ash. Lisbon’s Ten Score Years 1763-1963. Sugar Hill; Harrison Publishing House, 1963

Priests Serving St. Joseph’s Parish

Rev. Patrick S. Cahill — January 1896 – April 28, 1907
Rev. Thomas Redden — April 28, 1907 – October 12, 1913
Rev. Patrick E. Walsh — October 12, 1913 – May 23, 1934
Rev. Frederick I. Gaumont — May 23, 1934 – January 19, 1939
Rev. Albert J. Burque, Admin. — January 19, 1939 – May 31, 1940
Rev. John J. Foley, Admin. — May 31, 1940 – March 8, 1945
“                        ” Pastor — March 8, 1945 – October 14, 1945
Rev. George G. Donnelly — October 15, 1945 – May 16, 1952
Rev. Lionel W. Boulay — May 16, 1952 – November 3, 1960
Rev. Robert J. Larouche — November 3, 1960 – January 19, 1966
Rev. Roland E. Tancrede — January 19, 1966 – February 3, 1971
Rev. Jean A. Tremblay — February 3, 1971 – September 8, 1976
Rev. Roger P. Bilodeau — September 8, 1976 – October 23, 1979
Rev. Edwin W. Milne — October 23, 1979 – November 10, 1982
Rev. Robert F. Cole — November 10, 1982 – January 19, 1983
Rev. John W. Nolin —   January 19, 1983 – June 16, 1994
Rev. Mark E. Dollard — June 16, 1994 – 2002
Rev. Daniel J. Sinibaldi — 2002 – 2009
Rev. Jefferey P. Statz — 2009 – July 7, 2014
Rev. Alan C. Tremblay — July 7, 2014 – October 16, 2017
Rev. Maria Sebaastian Susairaj — October 16, 2017 – Present

Associate Pastors

Rev. William J. Sweeney — 1901
Rev. William P. Pendergast — 1903
Rev. James H. Queenan — May 1907 – October 1911
Rev. Michael R. Griffin — October 1911 – 1913
Rev. Edmund F. Quirk — May 1907 – October 1914
Rev. John A. Keegan OSA — June 1915 – November 1015
Rev. J. E. Chenel — 1915 – 1916
Rev. J. Eugene Belford — 1916 – October 1919
Rev. J. F. Eugene Belanger — October 1919 – January 1920
Rev. T. Francis Hogan — January 1920 – September 1921
Rev. Timothy J. Whelan — September 1921 – September 1922
Rev. Frederick I. Gaumont — September 1922 – April 1924
Rev. John J. Foley — 1923
Rev. Joseph C. Morin — April 1924 – October 1926
Rev. Eugene C. Dumas — October 1926 – 1927
Rev. Emile L. Jacques — June 1928 – 1931
Rev. Cornelius F. Cahill — 1931 – February 1933
Rev. Leo E. Lavoie — 1933 – 1934
Rev. William J. Bolt — November 1954 – September 1958
Rev. Francis X. McMullen — September 1958 – May 1960
Rev. Gerard J. Beaudet — May 1960 – June 1960
Rev. Warren J. Reagan — June 1960 – October 1963
Rev. Leon P. Gaulin — October 1963 – June 1965
Rev. Thomas C. Monaghan — June 1965 – September 1967
Rev. Jean A. Tremblay — September 1967 – March 1968
Rev. Albert J. Boulanger — June 1968 – March 1969
Rev. Edward J. Zalewski — March 1969 – September 1972
Rev. Robert F. Cole, Adm. — November 1982 – January 1983
Rev. Thomas Carleton — February 1989 – 1993
Rev. Philip Brady (retired) — 1996 – 2006

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