The oldest operating Catholic church in New England is in Maine

Sep 07, 2018 983

Think of Catholicism in New England and Boston’s churches probably come to mind. Indeed, St. Leonard, one of the oldest Catholic churches in the US, was built in 1873 by Italian immigrants at the corner of Hanover and Prince Streets in Boston’s North End. But the oldest continuously operating Catholic church in the area is actually found in Newcastle, Maine, where in 1808 a community of Irish businessmen helped found St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church.

At the time, Catholicism was slowly but steadily building its presence in the “New World.” The site of New England’s diocese was Baltimore, where Bishop John Carroll acted as head of parishes across the eastern seabord including Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Coastal Maine was attracting migrants from Europe, especially Ireland, who contributed to a thriving timber and shipbuilding industry. Two Irishmen, James Kavanagh and Matthew Cottrill, established their businesses in the up and coming settlement of New Castle and helped build a worship space for fellow Catholics.

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