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History of The Church of the Assumption Roman Catholic Parish - Avondale

History of The Church of the Assumption
Roman Catholic Parish



The Church of the Assumption, situated on a hilltop in the center of Avondale, Conception Bay is popularly known to motorists as the :Disappearing Church". Quite visible upon entering Avondale from the north, the church gradually disappears from view as the highway descends to sea level, only to reappear further down the road.

From 1886, when construction started on the first church, until 1909, Avondale, a community of over 800 people was a mission of Harbour Main. During the 1909 year Rev. Richard M. Shean became the first resident priest and stayed there for 12 years. In 1911 Rev. John Roe who served the parish as a mission died and that same night the original Avondale Church was struck by lightning and totally destroyed. In June 1911, the. Just one year later the cornerstone was laid for an impressive gothic style church which could accommodate 600 people. In 1921 Father John Kavanagh became the first parish priest and maintained this position for 34 years until Sept 19, 1955, when, at age 72 and in ill health, retired. However, church activity had been quite evident for many years and indeed two churches had been erected prior to this date. In 1972 lightning was the cause of yet another fire, resulting this time in the destruction of the famous steeple. It was not until December, 1982 that a new 36 foot steel and wooden steeple was skillfully placed in position by the Ironworkers of the parish.

Like so many other projects, the new steeple had been planned by volunteers and financed by the parishioners. Indeed, cooperation and generosity have been the mainstay of Assumption Parish, from the erection of parish buildings to the renovations and beautification of church property and grave sites, Avondale has been a parish alive with the results of volunteers and hard work. Also through the generosity of the parishioners a new sound system allows familiar hymns to call the parishioners to worship and the hillside " grotto" of the Blesses Mother proclaims to all that this is indeed the Church of the Assumption. Although the parish does not have any missions as such today, people from Brigus Junction still come here for educational purposes and to attend Church services.

Information and Records for
The Church of the Assumption Roman Catholic Parish

P.O. Box 9
Avondale, Conception Bay
A0A 1B0

Telephone and Fax #:
(Office)(709) 229-3853
Fax #: (709) 229-4850

e-mail address:

Father Michael Barker

Mrs. Carol Ann Cantwell

This church was a mission church and originally opened on June 17, 1911 and burnt shortly afterwards. It was rebuilt and re-opened on New Years Day, 1913 and was serviced by a Father Sheehan, Parish Priest of Hr. Main. All records were kept at the Hr. Main Parish. It wasn't until 1927 when Avondale got their first full time parish priest, Rev. J. S Kavanagh and thus all records from 1927 onwards are at Avondale Parish Office. Any researching this area should look at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish records (1857-1927) ; St. Patrick's R.C. Parish in Brigus (1824-1857) and the Immaculate Conception R.C. Parish in Harbor Grace (1806-1824). All records for St. Patrick's in Brigus burnt in 1936. These records included the years covering the Conception Bay Central parishes from 1824 to 1857.

Anyone researching the areas from Holyrood to Colliers should also look at the St. Paul's Anglican Church in Hr. Grace from 1775 to 1806 for earlier records and you will be surprised to find some entries there, as well they should also check the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in St. John's, as entries have been found there as well.

Following are the records that are available at Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Harbor Main as well as at the PANL. All records from 1927 onwards are at the Parish in Avondale and are not available at PANL. Records for the period from 1899-1927 (Baptisms) and 1906-1927 (Marriages) would also be at the Hr. Main Parish.

Baptisms	(1857-1899)	Box 1		Reel # 14	(1877-1899)
Marriages	(1857-1906)	Box 1		Reel # 14	(1857-1905)

There are no Vital Statistics Volumes (DPHW) available for this Parish They do have the All Newfoundland Births - Vital Statistics Division microfilm available for this parish at the PANL for the period from 1891 to 1926 for baptisms and from 1891 to 1922 for marriages.

The death records for Assumption Parish start from 1927 onwards There are microfilms at the PANL from the Vital Statistics Division from 1 891 to 1949 for deaths.

The following cemetery is used:
Assumption R.C. Cemetery - located on the southside of Avondale





A list of Priests who have served the parish of the Assumption:
Hr. Main Parish		1857-1921 	(all records held at Sts. Peter and 
					Paul Parish, Hr. Main - 
					was a mission church of Hr. Main from
					(to 1921 when they received their 
					first resident Parish Priest).
			1927-		the parish was officially named " Our 
			Lady of the Assumption" 
					referred to as Assumption Parish
Rev. John Kavanagh	1921-1955 	(retired after 34 years at 
age 72 due to ill health)
Rev. Edward A. Walsh 	1955-1985 (appointed Sep 18, 1955 and 
remained for 30 yrs - 
					was transferred to South River 
					where the the people of South River 
					loved him as much as the people of 
					Avondale, who were upset by
					the transfer of their beloved priest.
Msgr Richard T. Woodford 1985-1988 	(died Nov 14, 1988 
at Avondale Parish)
Rev. David Heale	1988-1998 	(left for sabbactical)
Rev. Michael Ryan	1998-present



I would like to thank Sister Madgalen O'Brien, P.B.V.M., for
all her help with the Assumption Parish as well as assistant, Ina
for all the help and information on the parishes under the
Grand Falls Diocese.

Contributed by Barbara McGrath

Page Revised by Craig Peterman (February 2004)

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