Fourth Oldest Church
An Abbreviated History of
St. Brendan’s Roman Catholic Church
St. Brendan’s history is a colorful and rich tale of the efforts of a small but devoted Catholic Congregation looking for a spiritual home. St. Brendan’s first church on Cooper Hill was built late in 1891 thanks to the guiding force of Father George M. Marshall.
Prior to that time, priests from Lancaster, “by horseback and team did their utmost to reach and minister to the northern regions: of the Coos region. Services were held once or twice a month and usually celebrated in private homes. These early traveling priests would often come to Colebrook on Saturday, staying over at the homes of the parishioners, in order to say Mass on Sunday. The priests were also available for baptisms marriages and funerals. They also made visits to families located in the more remote regions, especially if some of the parishioners were unable due to illness or age, to come into Colebrook for the Mass.
By 1891, when construction probably began on Cooper Hill, there were still only about 15 Catholic families in Colebrook, granting that the average size of families in those days was considerably larger than those of today, the project of building their own church was an awesome task of “some heroic proportions. The first parishioners of St. Brendan’s turned their strong backs and muscles to doing as much of the work as possible themselves, and apparently got the church up in a few months.”
It was not until 1953 when our Bishop considered that there were enough families in Colebrook to require the service of a full-time pastor the first resident pastor being Rev. Albert Gagnon. St. Brendan’s, in June of 1953, was constituted a separate parish and grew rapidly in numbers and in Mass attendance.
Ground was broken in May 1955 for the new church on Pleasant Street. As in the early years, many parishioners donated their time, skills and labor to assist in the various phases of construction and finishing work. Heating and plumbing were done by Trefle Hebert, the electrical work by Arnold Boucher, and the painting by Norman Gadwah. The bell in the steeple is the same one that was used in the former church. The new church was dedicated October 23rd of 1955.
The building is eighty-seven feet by thirty-six feet in total dimensions exclusive of porches and vestibules. It resembled in many ways its predecessor on Cooper Hill. All the statutory from the old church was transferred and remains in the new church. The new church has a seating capacity for over 340 persons.
We are grateful to have had the dedicated services of the following priests:
Rev. John Holahan —- Aug. 1888 – Feb. 1891
Rev. George F. Marshall —- Feb. 1891 – Aug. 1895
Rev. Joseph Desmond —- Aug. 1895 – Jan. 1899
Rev. H.E. Lennon —- Jan. 1899 – Sept. 1904
Rev. J. Jutras —- Sept. 1904 – Oct. 1910
Rev. N.J. Cavanaugh —- Oct. 1910 – Oct. 1913
Rev. W.L. Dee —- Oct. 1913 – July 1916
Rev. L.P. Routhier —- July 1916 – Sept. 1930
Rev. Charles E. Bourque —- Sept. 1930 – May 1934
Rev. E.L. Bussiere —- May 1934 – March 1937
Rev. J.F.E. Belanger —- March 1937 – May 1940
Rev. Andre J. Brunelle —- May 1940 – Jan. 1945
Rev. Leo J. Poulin —- Jan. 1945 – May 1954
Rev. Albert Gagnon —- June 1953 – Sept. 1963
Rev. Rodrique Gallant —- Sept. 1963 – Sept. 1967
Rev. Gregoire Dumont —- Sept. 1967 – April 1970
Rev. Albert Bellefeuille —- April 1970 – Sept. 2007
Rev. Craig Cheney —- Sept. 2007 – To present
Source: The Colebrook Cookbook, revised Bicentennial Edition
Provided by Marie Gorman
Picture provided by Roxanne Herres