GRAND RIVER -- A special Mass at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Grand River this Sunday, May 25, will celebrate the church’s 175th anniversary. Bishop Richard Grecco will preside over the 2 p.m. Mass with parish priest Fr. Albin Arsenault.
Journal-Pioneer Staff. May 22, 2014
Often referred to as one of the most beautiful church properties in Prince Edward Island, St. Patrick’s was built on a hill overlooking the Grand River.
According to an article by Rev. J.B. Reilly in the Sacred Heart Messenger in December, 1947, the Grand River church has the distinction of being the first church in Canada to be dedicated to St. Patrick.
“This honor belongs to Grand River, PEI where in 1790, a band of immigrants from the highlands of Scotland, mainly the Islands of Barra, erected a log church to accommodate 20 families, dedicated to the Apostle of Aire,” he wrote.
While the parish dates back to the 1790s, construction of the present church was started in 1836 with the actual dedication of the church to St. Patrick occurring on March 17, 1839. In 1890, William Critchlow Harris, designed the present church, which is constructed around the original church.
Doug MacDougall, Chair of the parish’s heritage committee, noted that while St. Patrick’s is a small parish with just over 50 families, there is a tremendous outpouring of support as the church is a focal point of the community. “There is a great sense of community and parish spirit associated with the church,” he revealed. Since 1993, there have been ongoing projects to restore and embellish some of the historic architecture of the church. Recently, the interior was painted and hard wood floors restored in the sanctuary.
Common surnames in the parish over the generations have included Gillis, McIntyre, McLellan, Cameron, McDonald, Brown, MacKinnon. Praught, MacDougall, Trainor and McGuire.
Following the anniversary Mass, there will be a brief ceremony in the Pioneer Cemetery, followed by fellowship in the parish hall. Parishioners, former parishioners and all interested people are welcome.