Our Parish Mission Statement:
|ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA CHURCH, CHARLESTOWN|
|ST. PETER’S CHURCH, NORTH WALPOLE|
The Catholic Church in Charlestown did not come into existence until the area was settled by Irish Catholic families in the 1850’s. The first Masses were held in private homes.
During the early days, the Mission of Saint Catherine of Siena was under the control of St. Mary in Claremont. Masses were first held in the Hubbard Block, until 1879, when a fire destroyed the block. Masses were then held in the Old Town Hall. In 1879, Sherman Parish donated a lot behind his home on Main Street, and he proceeded to build the structure which is now St. Catherine of Siena Church. The hill in which the Church was originally located became known as Catholic Hill which today is Paris Avenue.
On September 2, 1880, St. Catherine Church was dedicated with Bishop Healy of Portland, Maine as the main Celebrant with a quartet from one of the Cathedrals of New York there to lead the congregation in singing.
St. Catherine Church is forever indebted to the Sherman Parish family for the very generous donations they made to the church which include the lot, the church building, the furnishings of the church and four Tiffany Windows. These four Tiffany Windows represent the Virgin with the Child Jesus, St. John, the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Sacrament.
Sherman was himself, not Catholic but his wife, Catherine was and many people looked upon St. Catherine as her private church.
Since the first construction of the church, the architecture has been altered several times. A long forgotten description of the church gives a good picture of the original appearance.
“It is of Gothic design surmounted by graceful towers, the interior shows a gabled ceiling supported by open trussing. It is artistically frescoed in spaces and panels, each panel exhibiting an emblematic design. The Chancel affords a good setting for the beautiful marble altars which has a background of two artistic Gothic windows.”
In 1905 a rectory was purchased on Main Street. Because the rectory and the Church were a distance apart, this proved to be a problem, especially in the winter, so to eliminate this problem the lot next to the rectory was purchased and the long process of moving St. Catherine to its new location began. The Church was divided into two sections; the bell tower, and the body of the Church. The two sections were then set on logs used as rollers and carefully rolled to the new location next to the rectory. After the move, the Church was redecorated and October, 1915, rededicated.
For many years, St. Joseph Church of Walpole was a Mission of St. Catherine. That changed in 1966 when St. Joseph became a mission of St. Peter Parish in North Walpole. St. Catherine then began celebrating Mass in various locations in the town of Alstead until 1974 when it started to rent the Third Congregational Church in Alstead. This was the beginning of the Catholic Church of the Holy Spirit which continued until 1999.
As of July, 2007 St. Catherine is now a part of all Saints Parish which also includes St. Peter Church in North Walpole. St. Catherine of Siena Church has undergone a total renovation beginning in July and finishing the first week of November, 2012.
PASTORS OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA CHURCH CHARLESTOWN, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Rev. John Brady 1868-1876
Monsignor Daniel Murphy 1868-1876
Rev. Patrick Finnigan 1876-1904
Rev. Joseph Creedon 1904-1915
Rev. Edward Farrell 1915-1932
Rev. Timothy Whalen 1932-1938
Rev. Thomas Cushing 1938-1942
Rev. John McCarthy 1942-1945
Rev. Ernest Gagnon 1945-1964
Rev. Thomas Donnelly 1964-1966
Rev. Anthony Finn 1966-1971
Rev. Anthony DiGiulio 1971-1974
Rev. Harvey LaMothe 1974-1975
Rev. Robert Densmore 1975-1985
Rev. Dick Kelley 1985-1987
Rev. Andrew Miller 1987-1988
Rev. Francis Kelso 1988-1990
Rev. Adhemar Deveau, OMI 1990-1994
Rev. Shawn Therrien 1994-2002
Rev. Michael E. Gendron 2002-2011
Rev, Steven M. Lepine - 2011-2016
Rev. John Loughnane – 2016-
The first church to serve Catholics of North Walpole was St. Mary’s of Claremont, which was organized as a parish in 1848. Peter Reynolds is the known as the first Catholic to reside in the community.
Mass was first celebrated in North Walpole in a stone school house on lower Main Street. During this time, North Walpole became a regular mission of St. Mary’s Parish in Claremont.
In 1877 the parish of St. Peter’s was established, with the following communities under its jurisdiction: Charlestown, Walpole, Ashuelot, Hinsdale, Swansey and Gilsum.
Rev. Maurice Gavin came as first resident pastor of St. Peter’s Parish in the early autumn of 1877. His record of the first baptism in the new parish was that of Minnie Margaret, a child of Ambrose Stone, October 28, 1877. Father Galvin used the stone school house for services during the first few months of his pastorate. Immediately after coming to North Walpole, he secured the land now occupied by St. Peter’s Church and built the present building. The men of the parish dug the cellar during the evening hours with stone for the foundation hauled from Chester, Vermont by horse and wagon. The construction of the edifice was pushed so rapidly that the first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1877. After the completion of the church, which cost $8000, Father Galvin built the present rectory, which was ready for occupancy in August, 1882.
Father Galvin was transferred to the pastorate of St. Bernard’s, Keene, New Hampshire in February 1882 and was succeeded by the Rev. Narcisse Cournoyer. Father Cournoyer was transferred in August, 1885 and replaced by Rev. George Feeney. During his pastorate, Father Feeney bought property for a cemetery; the present St. Peter’s Cemetery in Drewsville and also acquired a stretch of land joining the church lot.
From July 26th to October 21st, 1909 the church was practically made a new edifice at a cost of $4500.00. The complete cost was paid in cash, with the exception of $78.00.
The church buildings were painted, and the roof of the church was slated. The interior was braced with steel walls and ceilings and redecorated. New windows were installed in the choir loft, the foundation walls were cemented, the old windows were removed, and beautiful memorial windows replaced them, one in honor of St. Peter over the main altar and six on each side of the church.
Even though times were very hard at that time (almost the entire parish was out of work due to a strike) not a soul failed to give when and what he agreed to do. Such was the wonderful sacrifice made for the beauty of the House of God.
The observance in honor of the renovation began with the celebration of High Mass on October 21, 1909 with the newly installed pipe organ being played for the first time. Every seat in the church was occupied.
In 1933 the church was remodeled and redecorated, both inside and outside. Some of the new installations made were:
St Peter’s Parish has been very blessed with many vocations through the years with seven young men being called to the holy priesthood, 1 a religious brother, and 10 women entering religious orders.
St. Peter Church has continued to be a vibrant community of faith down through the years and in July, 2007 merged with St. Catherine of Siena Church, Charlestown to form one new parish, All Saints. St. Peter Church underwent renovations during the 2010 and 2011 year.