OUR HISTORY

The church of St. Bridget's parish was first opened and dedicated to the service of God in November of 1863.

 

Before that, Catholics in the Abington area were served by St. Mary's Parish of West Quincy, the first church erected south of Boston. Established in September 1842, St. Mary's included the towns of Braintree, Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate, Weymouth, Abington and the South Shore to Plymouth. In these years, Catholics of Abington (mostly resident in what is now Rockland) would gather in private homes to attend services. In 1853, St. Mary's Parish of Randolph was set off, which included Abington and Rockland.

 

The first pastor of St. Bridget's was Father Aaron Louis Roche, who, in 1856, was transferred from Immaculate Conception Church in Easton to become pastor of St. Mary's, Randolph. In the late 1850's, Father Roche served the Catholics of Abington by a monthly mass celebrated in the Town House, later called Lyceum Hall, which stood a few hundred feet west of the current church.

 

Father Roche bought the church's lot in April 1862, and construction began in September of that year. In November, 1863, the church was dedicated by Bishop McFarland of Hartford, CT, under the patronage of St. Bridget, patron saint of Ireland. Father Roche was pastor of the new church until his death in January, 1869; his monument in St. Patrick's cemetary is inscribed "Erected by a Grateful Parish".

 

Father Roche's successor, Rev. Michael Moran, served only until 1872; his service was notable for his success in paying off the church's entire debt. When Father Moran moved to St. Stephen's in Boston, he was succeeded as pastor by Rev. James C. Murphy. Father Murphy erected St. Peter's church in Plymouth, which at the time was a part of the Abington parish, and purchased land on Union Street in Rockland, for the purpose of building a new church.

 

Rev. William P. McQuaid was pastor from 1876 to 1887. During his term, Rockland's Holy Family Church was set aside as a new parish, and Whitman's Church of the Holy Ghost was built. Rev. John F. Murphy was pastor for a year, and was succeeded by Rev. George J. Patterson. During Father Patterson's term (1888-1897), he purchased the land for rectories in Abington and Whitman, and Whitman's Church of the Holy Ghost became an independent parish in 1897. 

 

 

During Rev. Patrick H. Billing's 20 years as pastor (1897-1917), the present rectory was built, in 1904. The altar is a memorial to the memory of Father Billings; it was erected by his successor, Father John H. Lyons (1917-1931). Father Lyons made many other improvements to the church building; he erected an oak screen at the rear of the church, installed a new lighting system and improved the interior decoration.

 

After the death of Father Lyons, the diocese changed its pastoral policy, and three pastors served terms of six years each: Father James H. Downey (1931-1937), Father Bernard S. O'Kane (1937-1943) and Father Peter J. Conlon (1943-1949) all served the parishioners of St. Bridget's faithfully, with Fathers O'Kane and Conlon providing leadership during the difficult days of World War II. After a brief tenure by Rev. Francis Egan (1949-1951), the Reverend Charles E. Riley became pastor, and was a beloved figure for all of his twenty-two years at St. Bridget's. During Father Riley's pastorate, the Parish Hall was built (1953), St. Bridget's school was opened (1961), and the convent for the Sisters of Divine Providence was opened (1966). Father Riley also redecorated the interior of St. Bridget's church, and cultivated the grounds, and helped the parish celebrate its centennial in 1963. Father Riley was elevated to Monsignor in 1966; he retired in 1973, the year of his 75th birthday.

 

During Father James W. McWade's pastorate (1973-1985), St. Bridget's reached an agreement with the Capuchin Friars to occupy St. Bridget's convent. The convent became the St. Lawrence Friary and the Friars continued to give spiritual assistance to the Parish until 1989. Reverend Michael L. Bowab was pastor briefly, from 1985 through 1987, and was succeeded by the Reverend Gerald J. Hickey until 1994 when Reverend Allan Butler became pastor. Our current pastor is Reverend James M. Mahoney who has served the Parish since June, 2006.

150th Anniversary Booklet
150th Pictures

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