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History of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Parish Church  Hr. Grace

History of Immaculate Conception
Roman Catholic Parish Church
Hr. Grace



"The exact year of his arrival is not known," but he was here in 1794, Patrick Phelan was a Franciscan or Friar Minor, and was stationed in the Mission of Harbor Grace." Whelan was known as a zealous worker who annually made two visitations of his parish. In September 1799, while on visitation, Whelan drowned off Grate's Cove when the boat in which he was a passenger capsized in a storm. All passengers and crew died, and Whelan's was the only body recovered; it was taken back to Harbor Grace and laid to rest in the old Catholic graveyard. There is no record of a church in the town at that time although there were undoubtedly representation of the Catholics as early as 1627 in the form of a couple of priests who were most likely, persecuted, yet the R.C's persisted and the flow constantly increased. Next came Rev. Ambrose Fitzpatrick in 1800 to 1806.

In 1806 Rev. Thomas Ewer took charge of the Harbor Grace Mission. During his tenure a wooden chapel, with a tower approximately 100 ft high was constructed. By 1830 the Mission had become a parish. In that year Bishop Fleming set out for Ireland to recruit missionaries for Newfoundland. Of the six who arrived in 1831, Rev. Charles Dalton was assigned to Harbor Grace, taking over when Yore died in 1833. The old wooden chapel was torn down, and in 1844 excavation was under way for the construction of a new Roman Catholic Cathedral. P.J. Connolly says, the corner stone was laid by Bishop Mullock in 1852. Four years later, as construction continued, the Diocese of Harbor Grace was constituted with Dr. John Dalton, Charles Dalton's nephew, as its first Bishop. He died in 1869 and construction continued under his successor, Bishop Henry Carfagnini , who under Dalton had been responsible for the architecture of the new cathedral, which was modeled after St. Peter's in Rome. Stone was brought from Kelly's Island, granite from Scotland, marble from Italy, brick from Hamburg and timber from the United States. In 1880 Carfagnini was transferred to Italy and was succeeded at Harbor Grace by Bishop Ronald MacDonald at that point the church was in its twenty-sixth year of construction. According to Connolly (p. 20) the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was completed only a few years before it was destroyed by fire on September 2, 1889. Entirely paid for, it was valued at $350,000 but it carried no insurance.

A new cathedral, built in the Gothic style, was begun immediately and was consecrated in 1892. That church was still in use in 1983. Bishop John March succeeded MacDonald in 1906 and Bishop J.M. O'Neil succeeded March in 1940. In 1953 the church at Grand Falls was elevated to the status of Co-cathedral, and the Harbor Grace-Grand Falls Diocese was formed. Three years later the Bishop's Seat was moved to Grand Falls. The Parish of the Immaculate Conception in 1983 served the people of Harbor Grace, Spaniard's Bay, Riverhead and Island Cove. Whereas Roman Catholicism began to flourish openly only after the Emancipation of, 1829 .

Information and Records for Immaculate Conception
Roman Catholic Parish
Hr. Grace

P.O. Box 299
Harbor Grace, Conception Bay
A0A 2M0

Telephone and Fax #:
(709) 596-6182
Fax #:(709) 596-2235

e-mail address: --
Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Parish - Hr. Grace

Home Page
None Available

Rev. Ramon Bolatete

Mrs. Joyce Skanes

This church started in 1806 and other than the Basilica in St. John's was the only Catholic Church in all of Conception Bay. Anyone doing research in the Conception Bay area from Holyrood right down to Hr. Grace and beyond would find the records at the Parish Office and at the PANL. The following records at the Provincial Archives. Any one researching these areas should also check St. Paul's Anglican Church in Hr. Grace and the Basilica of St. John the Baptist for earlier records.

Baptisms 		(1806-1845)	Box 1	Reel # 12	(1806-1845)
Baptisms (1806-1828) Box 3
Marriages (1806-1828) Box 1 Reel # 12 (1811-1845)
Marriages (1806-1845) Box 3

A list of Priests who served the parish of the Immaculate Conception:

1794-1799  		Franciacan Patrick Phelan
1800-1806 Rev. Ambrose Fitzpatrick
1806-1831 Rev. Thomas Ewer (died 1833)
1831-1833 Rev. Charles Dalton (as an Assistant)
1833-1869 Rev. Charles Dalton, PP. (later became a Bishop and died May 5, 1869 at age 49 yrs)
1859-1872 Rev. John J. Walsh
1872-1881 Rev. Francis E. Walsh
1877- Rev. Stephen Flynn
1882-1882 Rev. Donald McInnes
1883-1891 Rev. John Roe
1889-1906 Rev. John March (served as parish priest when he became a bishop)
1906-1912 Rev. William Finn
1912-1918 Rev. James J. Walker
1918-1926 Rev. Michael F. Dinn
1926-1934 Rev. Jeremiah Howard
1934-1940 Rev. Francis P. Meaney
1940-1944 Rev. Francis R. Terry
1944-1953 Rev. Edward J. Shea
1949-1957 Rev. William P. Hogan
1957-1984 Rev. Joseph O'Brien
1984-1987 Rev. Kevin J. Barker
1987-1990 Rev. Michael J. Walsh
1990-1996 Rev. James A. Beresford
1996-present Rev. Ramon Bolatete

The above list is of the main parish priests, many more served as curates and getting their start as priests, only to move on to do great things in other parts of Newfoundland and the world.



I would like to thank Bonnie Hickey for sending me the photo of
Immaculate Conception Church and Sister Magdalen O'Brien for
the history of the Parish.

Contributed by Barbara McGrath

Page Revised: July 2002 (Don Tate)

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