Under The Jurisdiction of The Diocese of Quebec
From the seventeenth century the Catholics of British North America were served by
the Diocese of Quebec which was elevated to a diocese on October 1, 1674. Its jurisdiction included the areas of the present day
provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and
Prince Edward Island with its headquarters in Quebec City.
The Maritime region, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, was regarded as
mission territory by Quebec city. The region consisted of small settlements, often quite distant from
one another, and was frequently served by itinerant missionaries, rather than resident parish priests.
In addition to the French speaking Acadians, there were English and Gaelic speaking Scots and Irish,
and also Maliseet and Mi'kmag natives living in the area.
The cultural and linguistic differences presented by the population of this region forced the Bishops of Quebec
to recruit priests from Scotland and Ireland as well as from Quebec and France.
They had a major problem in getting priests who could serve this large, wilderness area, let alone recruit priests who were
fluent in the French, English, Gaelic, Mi'kmag or Maliseet languages.
New Brunswick -
New Brunswick was at first served by Quebec missionaries through three missions, Caraquet, St. Basile, and Memramcook.
The North and Eastern coast including the Miramichi river was served from Caraquet which was accessible by ship from the
Gulf of St. Lawrence. The entire Saint John river was served from St. Basile which was reached by portage from the
St. Lawrence river. The parish of St. Basile was founded on December 12, 1792. Father Francois Ciquard was appointed pastor in 1794.
The parish of Memramcook was founded in 1781. The first resident priest at Memramcook was Joseph Thomas Francois Le Rous, who, after serving in the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island,
was sent by Bishop Briand to take charge of the Memramcook parish and its missions in 1785. The parish of Caraquet was established in 1784.
Father Rene-Piere Joyer was appointed pastor of Caraquet in 1798.
A number of Highland Scots, for the most part Roman Catholic, had arrived on the Miramichi
with William Davidson in 1765. One of them, John Murdock, constructed a chapel
at Bartibog on land owned by a John English some time around 1780.
It was to John Murdock's chapel that the early settlers
on the Miramichi went to have their children baptized, their marriages witnessed, and their dead
buried. The missionary Father Rene Pierre Joyer, pastor of Caraquet, began keeping a record of these as early as 1801.
The same John Murdock, his family, and his son-in-law, John Malcolm were also among the first settlers
in what would become known as Nelson-Miramichi. The Murdock house at Nelson was first used
as a chapel until one was built by him in 1796 on land donated by John Malcolm. This
chapel became known as "Malcolm's Chapel". In 1811 Father Huot, resident priest at Caraquet,
was authorized by Bishop Plessis of Quebec to "bless Malcolm's Chapel and celebrate
mass therein", and also announce that henceforth it and the parish would be placed
under the patronage of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland.
When Bishop Denaut, in 1803, made his only visit to the Maritime region, one of his stops was at Bartibog where
he noted there were 28 Gaelic and English speaking families at the Miramichi mission.
His successor, Bishop Plessis visited the Maritime region in 1811, l812, and 1815. On 11 June 1812, on his only visit
to the Miramichi, he sailed up the river where he spent ten days stopping at all the missions on the river until he reached Bartibog.
From Bartibog, he concluded his visit by sailing across the river to Baie St. Anne and on June 21 he sailed out of the
Miramichi Bay and down the New Brunswick coast to Richibouctou.
In his report about the faithful in Miramichi, he noted that there were about 40 families at the Miramichi mission.
Five of these were French speaking Acadian and the rest were Gaelic and English speaking Scots and Irish.
In 1812 Bishop Plessis received into his diocese an Irish Dominican,
Rev. Charles D. Ffrench, a convert to Catholicism. Father Ffrench
served for some time in Quebec city before being appointed in July of 1813 to
missionary work on the Miramichi with his headquarters in Bartibog.
At that time the Miramichi district consisted of five mission "stations":
Bartibog, Malcolm's Chapel, Burnt Church, Neguac, and Baie du Vin and had
been served by the resident priest of the parish of Caraquet.
After two years of ministry on the Miramichi, Rev. Ffrench extended the parish to include Saint John.
In 1816 without the approval of Bishop Plessis, Rev. Ffrench made Saint John his headquarters
instead of Miramichi. Rev. Ffrench was described as being energenic as well as headstrong.
At first he celebrated Mass in the City Court Room on Market Square.
A church was built soon afterwards, and at the suggestion of Bishop Plessis, who was in
Saint John during his 1815 visit to the Maritimes, it was dedicated to St. Malachy. It was opened for worship on 1 October 1815.
During his visit to Saint John, Bishop Plessis was critical of Rev. Ffrench for the amount
of time that he was spending in Saint John away from his parish in Miramichi. He was also critical
of the chapel that was being built in Saint John as he felt that it was four times larger than the size required
for the community. Rev. Ffrench was removed from his Miramichi ministry by Bishop Plessis in 1817.
While Bishop Plessis was in Saint John in 1815, the Catholic community requested that he appoint
a resident priest. A year later in 1816 Rev. Paul McQuade became resident priest of Saint John and
served there until 1819. He was succeeded at St. Malachy's by Rev. Joseph Morrisset, who remained
as parish priest for five years.
In his report about the faithful in Saint John during his 1815 visit, Bishop Plessis noted that there were 15 Catholic families at
the Saint John mission.
With the influx of Irish immigrants to New Brunswick the number of Catholics in the province rapidly increased
and the Miramichi mission expanded to include the South West Miramichi and its tributaries up to Boiestown and all of the
North West Miramichi and its tributaries.
The first resident priests appointed to Miramichi after Rev. Charles D. Ffrench were:
Rev. Joseph Morrisset (1816 - 1817), Rev. James Cook (1817 - 1823), Rev. J.B. Kelly (1820 - 1823),
Rev. William Dollard (1823 - 1833), Rev. Michael Egan (1833 - 1887) .
Rev. William Dollard was appointed resident priest of Miramichi in 1823 and served that region for ten years.
Rev. Dollard made Bartibogue his headquarters until 1826 at which time he moved to St. Patrick's
in Nelson and served the Miramichi region from there.
One of his first tasks was the construction of St. Patrick's church in Nelson which was started in 1824. The
church was built near the site of "Malcolm's Chapel" on ten acres of land which had been purchased in 1814 from John Malcolm by Rev.
Charles Ffrench. St. Patrick's church escaped the great Miramichi Fire of 1825 and construction was completed in 1826.
New Brunswick - Under The Diocese of Charlottetown
On 11 August 1829, Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) was created an Episcopal See,
with New Brunswick under its jurisdiction. The Rev. Bernard Angus MacEachern was appointed its first Bishop
on August 11, 1829. Bishop MacEachern died on April 23, 1835 and was succeeded as Bishop by Rev. Bernard Donald McDonald on February 21, 1837.
Rt. Rev. McDonald was Bishop of Charlottetown for 22 years until he died on December 30, 1859.
In 1833 Rev. Dollard went to Fredericton as a missionary priest and upon the death of Rev. Michael McSweeney,
the first pastor of St. Dunstan's (1826 -1836), he was appointed
pastor of St. Dunstan's in 1836. Seven years later, as the first Bishop of New Brunswick, he established in
Fredericton the provinces's first episcopal seat.
Father Michael Egan was appointed resident priest of Miramichi in October 1833.
Making Nelson his headquarters, he served the area that included Miramichi Bay, the Miramichi River, and all its tributaries.
During his ministry, many churches were built throughout the parish under his supervision.
In 1836 a church was started at the "Forks" under his direction.
In the middle of winter, on 25 February 1837,
the "Church Of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel" at the Forks was dedicated by Rev. Michael Egan.
The first entry in the baptismal register recorded by Father Michael Egan, reads:"On
the twenty fifth day of February eighteen hundred and thirty seven. I have dedicated to the service of
God the Church at the forks under the patronage of the B. Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel by power given me
by the Rt. Rev. Bernard Donald McDonald as Bp. of this Diocese -----M. Egan"
The Church at the Forks was built on a hill overlooking that part of the river opposite to where the
Cains River flows into the Miramichi River. At that time the Church of "Our Lady of Mount Carmel"
served the Catholics living at the Forks and also all of those Catholics in the Upper-Miramichi area including the
communities of Blackville, Blissfield, Boiestown, and
the families living along the Cains River and the Bartholomew River.
Michael Whelan, the poet from Renous, composed
a poem about "The Forks and the Mount Carmel Church". Today, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is
the oldest Catholic Church in continous use in the Diocese of Saint John.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church was declared a Diocesan Marian Shrine, July 19, 1987 by Bishop Edward Troy.
In 1839 St. Michael's Church in Chatham was completed.
Saint Michael's Church was also built under the direction of Father
Michael Egan, in whose honour it was dedicated to
St. Michael. The Chatham Gleaner noted the opening of the completed church
for worship on March 17, 1839.
The Church in Chatham was built near the same area where Saint Michael's Basilica now stands.
St. Michael's was served by the missionary priest, Rev. Richard Veriker from 1840 to 1842. In 1843
Rev. John Shanahan became the first resident pastor of the parish of Chatham. In 1845 he was replaced
by Rev. John Sweeney who served as pastor until 1849. At that time Rev. Richard Veriker again returned
to St. Michael's, this time as pastor.
In 1841 a Chapel, St. Thomas The Apostle, was built in Red Bank on the Mi'kmag native reserve. The first entry in the
church records were made by Rev. Richard Veriker, missionary priest assisting Rev. Egan, in September 1841.
Rev. Michael Egan served the Miramichi for a period of 54 years, until his death on August 26 1887. Pastors who served Our Lady Of Mount Carmel after Rev. Michael Egan were:
Rev. William Morriscy 1868-1877 Rev. John Carter 1877-1884
Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald 1884-1887
Rev. M.M. O'Brien 1887-1889
Rev. Edward S. Murdock 1889-1896
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New Brunswick - A Separate Diocese
Thirteen years after the Diocese of Charlottetown was created, on September 30, 1842,
the province of New Brunswick was formed into a separate diocese and named the "Diocese of Saint John
in America". It was not until November 15, 1924 the name of the diocese was changed from "Diocese of Saint John in America" to "Diocese of Saint John, New Brunswick".
Its first bishop was
Dr. William Dollard (born November 29, 1789 in Ballytarina, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland; died 29
Aug., 1851), a man of apostolic virtue and a typical pioneer bishop. He made his
theological studies at Quebec, and was sent as a missionary by Bishop Plessis to Cape Breton,
and afterwards to Miramichi, and then Fredericton.
He was Vicar-General of the Diocese of
Charlottetown, and was consecrated bishop at Quebec. The official record
states that on 11 June 1843 he was consecrated Bishop and given the title "Bishop of Frederiction",
a title he retained even during his later residency in Saint John.
After Rev. William Dollard became bishop of New Brunswick, Rev. Michael Egan was appointed Vicar-General of the Diocese in 1861 and remained in that position until 1880.
Shortly after the death of Bishop Dollard, on September 15, 1851 construction of St. Bridget's in Renous was begun under the supervision
of Rev. Michael Egan. Father Egan served the Renous and upper-Miramichi area from St. Patrick's until 1868, at which time Rev. William Morriscy
was appointed Pastor of the Church at Renous. The upper-Miramichi area was then served by Father Morriscy from St. Bridget's parish.
In 1853 a second church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul was built in Bartibog at Moody's Point to replace the original chapel at Bartibog that was destroyed by fire.
Dr. William Dollard's successor was Right Rev. Thomas Louis Connolly (born at Cork, Ireland), who, after
receiving his preliminary education at Cork became a novice in the Capuchin
Order, and was sent to Rome to complete his studies. He was ordained in the
cathedral at Lyons in 1838, and for the next four years was stationed at the
Capuchin Church, Dublin. In 1842 he volunteered for the Foreign Missions, and
his services were accepted by the Right Rev. William Walsh (who afterwards
became Archbishop of Halifax).
Consecrated Bishop on 15 August 1852, Dr. Connolly arrived
in Saint John, his episcopal city on 11 September of the same year. One of the first duties
he undertook was the building of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; but it was not until Midnight Mass, Christmas
1855, that the building was ready for Divine service
In June 1854 there was an outbreak of cholera in Saint John which did not abate until after the middle of
August. It is estimated that 600 Catholics died of it; as a consequence, about
150 orphans were thrown on the bishop's hands. To care for them, he organized
a diocesan sisterhood known as the Sisters of Charity. On 8 April 1859 Dr. Connolly was
promoted to Halifax in succession to Archbishop Walsh.
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New Brunswick - Divided Into Two Dioceses -
The Diocese of Chatham and The Diocese of Saint John
The Diocese of Saint John in America
A division was made of the Diocese of Saint John in America by papal decree on May 8, 1860;
the southern portion (the present See of Saint John) being assigned to Right Rev. John Sweeny
(born in 1821 at Clones, Co. Monaghan, Ireland; died 25 March, 1901).
The diocese included
the following counties: Albert, Carleton, Charlotte, Kings, Queens, St. John, Sunbury,
Westmorland, York, and a portion of Kent.
John Sweeny had emigrated with his parents in 1828; He was ordained in September 1844,
and was first assigned to the diocese Saint John in America, whence he went from time to time throughout the
country on missions. His next labours were as pastor at Chatham and then Barachois.
He was vicar-general successively under Bishops Dollard and Connolly,
and administrator of the diocese on both occasions when the see was vacant.
On 15 April, 1860, he was elevated to the episcopate; and in 1870 he went
to Rome to attend the Vatican Council.
Under him the cathedral was completed; it was consecrated on 16 July, 1885.
Bishop Sweeny was noted for his wisdom, tact, and administrative abilities.
The Catholic settlement of Johnville, Carleton County, was established
by him, and grew into a flourishing colony under his encouragement. In the
summer of 1899 he applied to Rome for a coadjutor, and on 30 September 1901 Rev. Timothy Casey,
pastor of St. Dunstan's Church, Fredericton, was appointed Coadjutor Bishop. In January 1901,
Bishop Sweeny retired to St. Patrick's Industrial School, Silver Falls and was succeeded by Bishop
Timothy Casey on 25 March 1901.
On 8 May, 1860, the Diocese of Saint John in America was divided, and the Diocese of
Chatham created. The Diocese of Chatham comprised the northern half of the
Province of New Brunswick, i.e., the counties of Gloucester, Madawaska,
Northumberland, Restigouche, Victoria, and the part of Kent north of the
Richibucto River. This territory formerly belonged to the Diocese of Saint John in America, itself
originally a portion of the Diocese of Quebec.
The Rev. James Rogers (born July 11, 1826, at Mount Charles, County Donegal,
Ireland, the son of John Rogers and Mary Britten) was appointed the first bishop on 8 May 1860
and consecrated 15 August in the same year. Before he was five years old his parents emigrated to Nova Scotia.
While still in his teens, James's father died and he became the protege of Father Thomas Connolly,
later Bishop of Saint John and Archbishop of Halifax. It was under his direction that James Rogers
received most of his theological training before completing them at the Grand Seminary in Montreal.
He spent fours years at various parishes in Nova Scotia before being sent to Bermuda in May 1856 to administer to the penal
colony there. After two years he was recalled to Nova Scotia and became secretary to Archbishop Connolly in Halifax.
On his arrival at Chatham on 21 August 1860, Bishop
Rogers found only seven priests to attend an immense stretch of country. Fr. Joseph Paquet of Caraquet Fr. Michael Melloy
of Bathurst Fr. John Mooney of Shippegan Fr. Fernand Gauvereau of Tracadie
Fr Joseph Pelletier of Kouchibouquac Fr. Hugh McGuirk of St. Basile and
Fr. Michael Egan of Nelson
episcopate of forty-two years a wonderful improvement was witnessed,
and when he resigned, 7 August, 1902, he left a diocese of 47 parishes and 51 priests.
He died 22 March, 1903.
A parish was canonically established in Newcastle in 1862 and named St. Mary's in honour of the Blessed Virgin. The parish
records were opened in July 1862 by Father Egan. Construction of St. Mary's church was started in 1865, but it was ten years
before the church was completed. On Pentecost Sunday, June 13th 1875, St. Mary's was opened and blessed by Bishop Rogers. Rev.
Patrick W. Dixon, who had been appointed parish priest in 1871, was celebrant of the Mass.
In 1872, on the Mi'kmag Reserve of Eel Ground, a chapel named St. Anne's was designated a mission church by Rev. William Morriscy.
In 1874 St. Joachim's church was built in the mission of Boiestown and was also dedicated by Rev. William Morriscy.
In 1877 St. Andrew's church was built in the mission of Black Brook which is now known as
Loggieville. Rev. William Morriscy, parish priest of St. Peter and St. Paul's, Bartibog (1877 - 1908), who had been ministering
to the faithful at Black Brook, formally dedicated the new building to St. Andrew and announced
that it would be a mission church of Bartibog. Rev. J.L. MacDonald a native of Black Brook was appointed its
first resident priest.
The Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Barnaby River was built in 1884. Rev. Edward Patrick Wallace
was appointed its first parish priest on July 19, 1891.
In 1890 St. Raphael's church was built in the
mission of Blackville. Rev. S.J. Crumley was appointed parish priest in 1897 and served as such
until 1929 when he was replaced by Rev. A.A. MacKinnon (1929 - 1950).
In 1893 the Holy Name Of Mary
church was built in the mission of Blissfield.
On June 1st 1897 Bishop Rogers said mass in a new church named St. Edward's that was erected in the mission of Chelmsford.
On 11 February 1900 Thomas Francis Barry was ordained
Bishop of Chatham. He held the title of Coadjutor Bishop.
In 1901 Bishop Rogers celebrated a mass at St. Samuel's Church marking the opening of that church in the mission of Douglastown.
Upon the resignation of Bishop Rogers, the Rev. Thomas Francis Barry (born March 3,
1841, at Pokemouche, N.B., the son of Thomas Barry and Mary Hammond),
consecrated titular Bishop of Thugga and Coadjutor of Chatham
succeeded to the See of Chatham on 7 August 1902.
Shortly after taking possession of the see of Chatham, Bishop Barry undertook the
construction of St. Michael's cathedral. The basement of the new cathedral was
opened for Sunday and daily service on June 9, 1907. From that date forward
the new buiding became the church for the parish and the cathedral for the diocese.
For several years (1909 - 1922) the basement of the cathedral continued to be used
while the unfinished nave and sanctuary - bare stone walls and exposed rafters -
awaited thirteen years before being the beautiful graceful interior much as it exists today
In 1909 a church named Our Lady of Good Counsel was constructed in the mission of Millerton.
On 11 June 1914 Louis James O'Leary was ordained
Bishop of Chatham. He held the title of Auxiliary Bishop. Bishop O'Leary was appointed Bishop of Charlottetown
on 10 September 1920. He succeeded his brother, Henry Joseph O'Leary who had been promoted to Archbishop of Edmonton
on 7 September 1920. Born in Richibucto, N.B., they were the sons of Henry O'Leary and Mary O'Leary (sister of Father William O'Leary).
Most Rev. Patrice Alexandre Chiasson, D.D., (born November 26, 1867 at Grand Etang,
Cape Breton, N.S.) was ordained Bishop of the Diocese of Golfe St-Laurent (Hauterive / Baie-Comeau), P.Q. on 18 October 1917
and was appointed Bishop of Chatham on 9 September 1920.
To Bishop Chiasson, D.D., C.J.M.,
fell the task of supervising and completing the finished interior of St. Michael's with its stately
pillars and lofty vault to the magnificent altar of polished white Italian marble. The work on
the interior of the cathedral was completed in 1922.
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New Brunswick - The French Acadian Influence
On February 22, 1936 the Archdiocese of Moncton was created by Papal Decree from
parishes of both the diocese of Chatham and the diocese of Saint John. Two years later, in
May 1938, the Episcopal See was transferred from Chatham to Bathurst and that town
became the Diocesan See.
On 16 December 1944 the Diocese of Bathurst was divided, and the Diocese of
Edmundston was created using the counties of the north-western part of New Brunswick.
In 1959 all the Miramichi area parishes in the Diocese of Bathurst were
moved back to the Diocese of Saint John, back to where they had been prior to 1860.
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Broderic, Rev. B.M. The Catholic Church in the Maritimes B.M. Broderick.
English, Earl J. Nelson and its Neighbours: 300 years on the Miramichi - 2nd Edition Earl J. English 2002.
Hamilton, W.D.OLD NORTH ESK On the Miramichi W.D. Hamilton 1979.
Hynes, Rev. Leo J. The Catholic Irish in New Brunswick Leo J. Hynes 1992.
Jennings, John Tending The Flock New Ireland Press 1998.
McAllister, Edith St. Mary's in Newcastle 1862 - 1984 Newcastle Printing Ltd. 1984.
Archival Material, St. Michael's Museum, Miramichi, N.B.
Catholic Church In North America, http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/
Catholic Encyclodedia, http://www.newadvent.org/