Pax Vobis

A History of the Diocese of Saint John - its Bishops and Parishes

by Rev. Dr. Michael McGowan

While walking through the City Market with Gramp, we met Billy Donnelly who was looking for a lift home to Barnesville. But he first needed to stop at 16 Richmond Street to pick up a parcel from Mrs. Dacey.

As we sat in the car and waited, I kept looking up at the high steeple on the big church at the top of Richmond Street. When Billy got back into the car, he noticed Cliff was leaning out the window and looking way up. He remarked. “In the early 1870's my Grandfather William McDade and some other fellows from out our way, worked on putting that 230-foot steeple on the church that was built in the 1850's.” He continued, “I think it was Bishop Connolly who chose this spot on Waterloo Street to build the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.”

From the 2004 publication Pax Vobis - A History of the Diocese of Saint John - its Bishops and Parishes by Rev. Dr. Michael McGowan, I have learned that Bishop Thomas Louis Connolly, the 2nd Bishop of Saint John was born in Cork, Ireland in 1815 and served from 1852 - 1859. The arrival in Saint John on September 11, 1852 of this distinguished figure with an outstanding personalty, vision and oratorical skills was well received. He was not only involved in the building of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception but was also instrumental in obtaining a large tract of land for the present day St. Mary’s Cemetery on Loch Lomond Road and also in the founding of a band of religious women, dedicated to care for the poor, young, and sick which was the beginning of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception.

Pax Vobis is a 126-page book filled with many photos in both black and white and colour of the churches in the Saint John Diocese with historical details of their establishment.

You will find information such as:
     St. Vincent de Paul  - “On a hill which now overlooks the small and thriving town of  Oromocto, St. Vincent de Paul Church has stood for over 80 years. It began as a mission of St. Ignatius Parish, Petersville in 1860, when Rev. Luke O’Regan became the resident pastor.”

    St. Patrick’s -“Mass was first celebrated in Stanley in 1836 by Rev. Michael McSweeney, the first missionary priest of Fredericton, in the large room of ‘The Tavern’ then kept by Mr. McGuire.”

    Sts. Peter and Paul - “The first bishop to visit Bartibogue was Bishop Joseph Octave Plesis of Quebec. In June 1813, he administered the sacrament of Confirmation to eight children.”

    St. Joseph’s - “The history of St. Joseph’s Parish really began in 1847 when Bishop William Dollard blessed Saint William’s Church in St. Martins. This was the main church and Father Andrew Barron, the first parish priest, also had mission churches at Black River, Upham, Little River, Loch Lomond and Saddleback.”

    Holy Rosary - “Holy Rosary Parish (St. Stephen) was established in the fall of 1887. Previously, Roman Catholics in the area belonged to St. Stephen’s Parish in Milltown, and before that were served by the parish priest of St. Andrew’s. There was, however, a Catholic school in the area of the present parish dating back to 1859.”

    “St. Gertrude’s Parish, one of the oldest and most historic parishes in the Diocese of Saint John, claims the distinction of having had the first Catholic Church in New Brunswick within its boundaries. A small chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist was erected near Woodstock in 1717 by Rev. Jean Loyard, a Jesuit priest, and was in regular use serving the Maliseets of the St. John River for some 50 years.”  
Pax Vobis - A History of the Diocese of Saint John - its Bishops and Parishes by Rev. Dr. Michael McGowan provides the family researcher with many interesting facts concerning the spiritual life of their Catholic ancestors and the individuals who nurtured their faith. For others, at home and away, it will serve as beautiful commemorative trip down memory lane.

Copies available

Pax Vobis”, the title of the publication meaning, ‘Peace Be With You’, is the motto on the Coat of Arms of the Diocese of Saint John.

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Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information to share with you. Please put "Yesteryear" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
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