St. Mary's Parish was established as a community of the
faithful in 1832. It is the oldest Catholic parish in
In 1832 Father James McDermot, a priest of
the Diocese of Boston, which encompassed all of New England, was sent to assist
the pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Hartford. Fr. McDermot's special duty was ministry
to the Catholics in the western part of the State of
Land was purchased near the intersection of
Over the next twenty years the ambitious and
impressive edifice that is the present church developed - at a time when the
city's Catholic population was steadily increasing. Father O'Brien was
appointed pastor in 1851, succeeding Fr. O'Reilly. It was in 1867 that the
Dominican Friars came and preached a parish mission that was long remembered.
During the mission, it became evident that the parish needed a larger Church.
Fr. O'Brien developed plans for this Church to be the most beautiful large
Gothic church in
The next pastor of St. Mary's was Fr.
Patrick Lawlor, appointed in 1879. During his years as pastor, excellent
curates ably assisted Father Lawlor. One of these was Fr. Michael McGivney. On
October 2, 1882, in the basement of St. Mary's Church, Father Michael J. McGivney organized the Knights of
Columbus as a fraternal benefit
society that would protect the widows and children of working men and foster
their faith and their social progress. Fr. McGivney spent seven years in
service to the parish and in 1884 was appointed pastor of
On Sunday, May 16, 1886 Dominican Fathers Higgins, Kent, Hartigan and Linahan were charge with the ministry at St. Mary's and on that day the first Solemn Mass in the Dominican Rite was celebrated in the Church. It was made clear that Bishop McMahon expected "great results" from this foundation of the Dominicans in his diocese.
The friars came to a parish that was
geographically very large and one that had been well nurtured by their
predecessors. Large number of Irish immigrants had come to the
The educational needs of a parish with
hundreds of young families were soon to be met with the arrival of the
Dominican Sisters of St. Mary's of the Springs in 1901. The Sisters established
a convent and an academy at
The changes brought by the influx of
immigrants were not the last ones for the Dominicans and the Parish of St.
Mary. Until the early 1960s St. Mary's Parish was a flourishing residential
parish. The appeal of the suburbs drew many parishioners away from the city and
Today St. Mary's provides a home for a
widely diverse congregation. Many are lifetime members of St. Mary's, the
descendents of the founding families and early immigrants. Others have joined
the parish more recently, and still others come to the community for only a
short time to purse academic programs or temporary employment in the area.
Single people and families from