St. James the Greater
The First Church
The land for the church was purchased in November of 1858 and the Venerable Louis De Goesbriand, first bishop of Burlington noted: "On October 3, 1859 a small frame church, 24 feet by 36 feet, has been erected at Island Pond by Father Ephraim Germaine of Compton, Canada." Three years later, Father John Baptist Chartier, pastor of Coaticook, took steps to enlarge the mission church, increasing its size to 70 feet by 38 feet and added a church bell.
Reverend Joseph-Eusebe Amedee Dufresne was first mentioned as the new assistant to Father Chartier in November of 1869 and is recorded as the fist resident pastor from 1871 util 1874 in October. In 1876 Island Pond was ministered by the pastor and curates of Newport, the Reverend Patrick McKenna and later appointed the newly-ordained priest at pastor of St. James the Greator in Island Pond. he is responsible for the first parish rectory. In January 1884, the twenty-seven year old newly-ordained Reverend Sleophas Damas Trottier was named pastor and remained for 32 years. Father Tottier's first objective was to open a school and convent. Two years later fie sisters of the Presentation of the Mary Order arrived from St. Hyacinth. The convent was blessed on August 26th, 1886 and 203 pupils attended school the first year. The busy community entered the final years of the nineteenth century in a golden era with great promise for the coming years. This optimism was reflected in the church itself with the need of a new and larger building. The present rectory had been built around 1890.
Present Church Built
The sold church was moved and the present one was constructed and is a tribute to its builders. The cornerstone was laid in 1898 and sits at 58 feet by 115 feet. It was built in the Roman style, with metallic ceiling, handsomely frescoed, with stained-glass windows and three altars. It cost twelve thousand dollars (fourteen, when furnished) and was solemnly dedicated by Bishop La Roque of Sherbrooke, Canada on February 8 1899. A large number of priests were present to dedicate this spiritual home of nearly seven hundred souls. The stained-glass windows are like strong shafts holding up our great church, and they visibly represent those who gave generously to make this beautiful building possible. What a joy it must have been to the Catholic pioneers present on that day to see their little first church now replaced by this beautiful cathedral-like edifice which today still dominates a high point on Christian Hill.
In 1951, the Reverend John L. Gorman became pastor. This kindly red-headed Irish priest, with years of missionary service in British East Africa, soon became everyone's friend in the community. During his ten-year administration the convent was painted and the church redecorated with the addition of new kneelers, a sanctuary carpet, and the refacing of the main altar with Vermont marble. The Papal and American flags were also permanently installed in the sanctuary. Due to the declining enrollment and the shortage of sisters, the high school was closed in 1955, but the parish did finance the bussing of students to Sacred Heart School in Newport.
In 1968, Father Donald A. Brunei became pastor and his arrival came just as many local railway men were transferred with the closing of local shops. This called for a realistic approach on the school. Because of pressure from the State Fire Marshal and the Diocesan School Board, plus the fact that the sisters could no longer staff it, the school was sadly closed in June of 1969. However in February 1969 Fr. Brunei was elected to the Town of Brighton Board of School Directors, becoming the first Catholic priest to be so honored locally and was a leader in the realization of Brighton Elementary School which opened in the fall of 1971.
The extensive renovations of the church in 1969, which began with a much needed modern heating system, saw the removal of the old altar rail and moving of the main altar toward the congregation. The large crucifix, given at a mission at the turn of the century, was refurbished and mounted on the center back wall of the sanctuary. The color scheme, in off white with an Alaskan blue ceiling and wall accents, gives a sense of peace and tranquility. The additional new lighting and statues makes the church truly a work of art.
- Excerpts from "Centennial Anniversary" by John Carbonneau
Saturday - 4:00 pm
Sunday - 10:10 am
Wednesday - 5:15 pm
Saturday - 3:30-4:00 pm
*all masses will be held in the
chapel across the street during the winter season from Christmas until Easter