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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
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 1886 (to 1921 when they received their first resident Parish Priest). 1927- the parish was officially named " Our Lady of the Assumption" otherwised 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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