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St. Michael's <br>Roman Catholic Parish Church <br>Bell Island

History of St. Michael's
Roman Catholic Parish Church
Bell Island



The Roman Catholic Church on Belle Isle was represented by the Dwyer and Kent families. From the early 1800's the Roman Catholic adherents were in the majority of the population of Belle Isle, as they are today. In the fifteenth century, explorers were accompanied by priests and friars, whose desire was to convert the heathen of those far away lands. From church records, dating as far back as 1770, one can readily see that the religious aspect of life was woven strongly into the fabric of these early pioneers. It would appear that for years these early settlers and their children were without a resident clergyman or any religious guidance. Yet, from the annals of church history, we find numerous records of the Belle Isle faithful taking their children to Harbour Grace, Port de Grave, Portugal Cove, and St. John's to be baptized. Up until the beginning of mining in 1895, there were but two denominations on Bell Island Reverend William Whitley visited Portugal Cove and baptised some children from there and Belle Isle. Between 1837 and 1838 Reverend J. Forristale baptized a number of children from Belle Isle, among them were Jane, of Edward Kent; Bridget, of James Kelly; and Andrew, of Andrew Murphy. John, son of Dennis Dwyer, was one of the first children to be baptized on Bell Isle.

A small church was built as a Mission Chapel and served the needs of the parish for a number of years. This little chapel was located on the same site where St. Michael's stands today. Belle Isle, along with Topsail and Torbay, was part of Holy Rosary Parish, Portugal Cove The parish experienced considerable growth during the nineteenth century, partly due to the large influx of Irish settlers. The first resident parish priest of St. Michael's Parish was Reverend Richard Dunphy, who served his growing flock from 1875 to 1880. Reverend Dunphy was followed by Reverend Lawrence Vereker, 1880-1884; who was succeeded by Reverend Francis McCullow, 1884-1892. Reverend Patrick O'Brien served the parish from 1892~l896. Although the Roman Catholic congregation at Lance Cove was without a regular church building for many years, this did not prevent the holding of services. Whenever the Parish Priest from Portugal Cove was able to get up to Lance Cove a service was held. Before the time of the service, many of the faithful could be seen walking over the road and lanes towards the home of Mr. James and Mrs. Ann Hammond. One of the main attractions of that home was its huge fireplace. Another was that it had two sets of stairs -one was a winding stairs that led up to a large living room. This living room was known as the "big room." Behind its glass door was where the services were held In this room the large Bible was read, sermons were preached, communion was served, and confessions were heard.

Information and Records for St. Michael's
Roman Catholic Parish Church
Bell Island

St. Michaels Roman Catholic Parish - Bell Island
P.O. Box 610
Bell Island, Newfoundland
A0A 4H0

Telephone and Fax #
(709) 488-2525
Fax #:(709) 488-3399

e-mail address:
None Available

Home page:
None Available

Rev. Wayne Dohey

Ms. Cindy Foley

The Church opened in 1875, but any prior records were lost in a fire. Some entries may be found at parishes of Portugal Cove/Pouch Cove, Torbay and earlier records at the Basilica

The following records are available at St. Michael's Parish or at the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL)

Baptisms			(1875-1922)	Box 1	(transcripts indexed)
Baptisms			(1911-1924)	Box 1	(transcripts indexed)
Baptisms			(1911-1933)	Box 2	(indexed)
Baptisms			(1933-1940)	Box 3	(indexed)
Parish Children Baptized	(1950-1956)	Box 2	(baptized elsewhere)
Marriages			(1875-1960)	Box 3	
Burials				(1891-1946)	Box 3

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 to1926 for baptisms and from 1891 to 1922 for marriages.

The death records for St. Michael's Parish start from 1891 onwards There are also microfilms at the PANL from the Vital Statistics Division from 1891 to 1949 for deaths.

Cemetery used:

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Cemetery located on Lance Cove Road, Bell Island.

A list of the Priests who have served the parish of St. Michael's:

Rev. Richard Dunphy			1875-1880
Rev. Lawrence Vereker			1880-1884
Rev. Francis McCullow			1884-1892
Rev. Patrick O'Brien			1892-1896
Very Rev. Dean James J. McGrath		1896-1938
Right Rev. Msgr. George F. Bartlett	1938-1956
Right Rev. Msgr. John W. McGettigan	1956-1960
Rev. Michael T. Connolly		1960-1962
Rev. Eric R. Lawlor			1962-1969
Rev. Valentine Power			1969-1969
Rev. Richard D. McHugh			1969-1980
Rev. Daniel McGettingan			1980-1982
Rev. Dr. Joseph Barton			1982-1986
Rev. David Butler			1986-1998
Rev. Fred Brown				1998-present

I would like to thank Cindy Foley and Larry Dohey for the
Church History and Pictures of St. Michael's Church



Contributed by Barbara McGrath (July 2000)

Page Revised: July 2002 (Don Tate)

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