St. Bonaventure's

 

St. Bonaventure's Parish

          The Church of St. Bonaventure's Parish began in 1838 with a 12 acre land donation made by Donald of Glenaladale, with additional land for a cemetery.  The first Church of St. Bonaventure's was built in 1838 and it was the first church built in the area after St. John the Evangelist.  The priest who supervised the construction of this church was Rev. James Brady.  This brand new church was considerably larger than the old wooden Chapel in Scotchfort, as it measured 60 feet by 40 feet.  St. Bonaventure's served the parish for almost 10 years before any changes were made.  In 1844 improvements were made to the church interior and new pews were installed.  Another major improvement was when Reverend Thomas Phelan had a tower built on to St. Bonaventure in 1864.  As the population of the Tracadie Mission, including Covehead and Corran Ban, continued to grow, they soon needed a bigger church.

            Thomas Phelan donated more land in 1887, approximately 2 acres.  The land donated was situated about 25 feet away from the first St. Bonaventure's Parish, across the road.  They began building the new church in 1887.  St. Bonaventure's was completed and opened in 1903, and still stands today.  The old church was then moved closer to the cemetery and converted into a church hall which served as a library, a temporary school and a social center.  The hall was also used to store unused caskets which became a spooky place of play for the children.  Moving the church and converting it into a hall cost approximately $1500.00.  The confessional from the first church was removed and installed into the current church.  This confessional was used for over 80 years but eventually it was taken apart, moved into storage and a new, more modern confessional replaced it.  In June of 1967 the hall, which was the original church, was destroyed by fire.  Years later the hall was replaced by a community center.

           

             The new St. Bonaventure's Church cost approximately $12,000 to build.  The architect who designed the Church was a man named Mr. Lemay from Quebec.  The builders of St. Bonaventure's Church were Francis Bradley of Kelly's Cross and Patrick and James Bradley of St. Teresa's.  Reverend P.J Hogan and P.E. McGuigan were the supervising priests at the time.  The stonework foundation was done by Samuel Arbing, who was one of the best around for his time.  Lemay chose a French Gothic revival style for the church which they portrayed through the ceilings, windows and doors.[6]  The original church was heated by three coal fueled furnaces and the coal had to be taken from the train station to the church by men of the Parish.  Dragging the coal from the station to the church was a hard job, so the new church was heated by electricity which was much more efficient.  There was even a switch installed in the parish house so the priest could turn on the heat in the morning.  When the new church was built, there was already an existing parish house that had been there for over a hundred years.  It still stands today as private residence down the road in Donaldston which would make it over 200 years old.  The new St. Bonaventure’s Church was much larger than the old church.  It measured 105 feet from the back of the semi-circular sanctuary to the front vestibule.  The width of the nave is 53 feet with the side chapel being 20 feet by 18 feet.  The new church was able to hold approximately 650 people.  The tower was 112 feet tall to the top of the cross and 14 square feet.  To honor this architectural and spiritual building a celebration was held on July 19, 1903 and the church was dedicated.

            The church stood for 15 years before any changes or updates were made.  In 1917 the steps at the front of the church were changed from wood to cement by Eddy Mullen.  Credit also goes to Eddy Mullen who was responsible for installing the bell in the new church which he did in 1920-1921. 

            The original cemetery began in 1841; however the first person, Mrs. McQuaid, who was buried there died in April, 1831.  The original cemetery occupied the plot of land closest to the road (Chapel Lane).  In 1928 the cemetery was expanded further away from the road toward the convent. 

            In 1922, the church organized the CWL which stands for the Catholic Women's League.  By 1977 there was a need for a new parish house and under the direction of Monsignor P.F. MacDonald a new, more efficient parish house was built.  The new parish house was completed in 1978 and currently inhabited by Father Lyndon Hogan.

 

The following is a list of recorded Priests who have served St. Bonaventure's:

 

Reverend James MacDonald                                      (1771-1785) (died 1785)

Reverend Angus Bernard

Reverend MacEachern (later Bishop MacEachern)          (1790-1835) (died 1835)

Reverend John MacDonald                                         (1835)

Reverend Charles MacDonald                                     (1835-1838)

Reverend James Brady                                              (1838-1851)

Reverend Pius MacPhee                                             (1854-1857)

Reverend Thomas Phelan                                           (1860-1887)

Reverend A.J. MacIntyre                                            (1887-1891)

Reverend Peter Curran                                               (1892-1895)

Reverend P.G. Hogan                                                (1895-1900)

Reverend P.D. MacGuigan                                          (1900-1913)

Reverend P. Duffy                                                     (1913-?)

Reverend J. Murphy                                                   (1918-?)

Reverend J.B. MacIntyre                                           (1913-1933) (died 1933)

Reverend John Sullivan                                              (1932)

Reverend George MacDonald                                      (1932-1933) 

Reverend Maurice MacDonald                                     (1933-1937)

Reverend Kenneth MacPherson                                   (1937-1944)

Reverend William Simpson                                         (1944-1946)

Reverend Kenneth MacPherson                                   (1946-1953)

Reverend Kenneth MacMillan                                      (1954-1967)

Reverend Van De Van                                              (1968-1975) (died 1985)

Reverend G Tingley                                                   (1975-1976)

Reverend Faber MacDonald                                         (1975-1976)

Reverend P.F. MacDonald                                         (1976-1985) (died 1986)

Reverend J.J. Dunphy                                                (1985-1989)

Reverend Vince Murnaghan                                         (1989-

Reverend Lou Murphy                                                 (19

Reverend Phil Callaghan                                             (19

Reverend Lyndon Hogan                                             (2004  - Present)[7]

 

*The Island Narratives Program would like to thank Father Lyndon Hogan for his assistance in completing this portion of the project.

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