About Our Parish

The History of Saint Jerome Parish

The early beginnings of our present church go back almost 100 years. It began as a very small mission built on the corner of Neck and Lovell streets. The small church was built for only 100 parishioners. The first chapel was built in 1880 by Rev. Hugh P. Smyth who was then the pastor of Weymouth and the whole district of the South Shore as far down as Plymouth.

At the first Saint Jerome Church, Rev. Smyth found the work of attending to so many Catholics in such a large area most difficult. Consequently, East and North Weymouth were made separate parishes and Rev. Jeremiah E. Millerick was appointed the first pastor in 1882.

This first church building, the chapel, was a small wooden structure. The parish grew rapidly as many visitors came to North Weymouth for the summers.

The small chapel could not hold all those who wished to attend the services. Early residents remembered when the church was so crowded many people gathered outside listening to the Mass through the open windows because there was not enough room inside.

The old Saint Jerome Church was not opened until Saturday evening. This was to warm the church for Sunday services. A fire was lit on Saturday evening in an old furnace. During the night the building caught on fire and was entirely destroyed. This fire was on Palm Sunday, 1914.

After the chapel burned, the parishioners of Saint Jerome Church attended Immaculate Conception Church until the opening of the new church in North Weymouth.

The second Saint Jerome Church was blessed, August 29, 1915. At the time of the dedication Rev. Cornelius Riordan was then pastor of both Immaculate Conception parish and Saint Jerome Mission. However, Rev. James Allison was the priest who had planned and almost completed the new Saint Jerome Church. He died a short time before it was dedicated.

In 1928, Saint Jerome was established as a separate parish. On the death of Rev. Cornelius Riordan in 1928, who was then pastor of Immaculate Conception Church and of Saint Jerome Mission, the parish was set apart and Rev. Charles A. O'Brien was appointed the first pastor of Saint Jerome Church.

When Father O'Brien arrived at Saint Jerome he found a beautiful church exterior but some work had to be done to finish the interior. He also needed a rectory so he purchased a large house on Pearl Street and made that the rectory until he was able to erect the large beautiful white rectory many parishioners remember located on Bridge Street. This rectory was built in March 1935. Later it was sold and moved down Neck Street where it still stands.

The inside of the church was completely decorated and new electrical fixtures were installed. New Stations of the Cross were hung on the walls; a pipe organ was purchased and by Christmas of his first year Father O'Brien celebrated Midnight Mass in Saint Jerome Church.

Then Father O'Brien built the Saint Jerome Community House on Lovell Street, the site of the burned down Saint Jerome Chapel.

Father O'Brien died suddenly Christmas night in 1942. He was succeeded at Saint Jerome Church by Rev. Edward M. Hartigan.

The parish grew and soon there were five Masses on each Sunday. Father Hartigan purchased the former John Tower estate next to the church. This property runs through from Bridge Street to Lovell Street and was eventually used for the needs of a rapidly growing parish.

In 1951, a campaign to raise money to build a new parochial school was organized among 2500 members of Saint Jerome Church. Details were announced by Father Hartigan. The parish was growing considerably. Many new homes were being built.

Then Father Hartigan was appointed pastor of the Immaculate Conception parish in Everett, and in 1954, Rev. Francis A. Barry became pastor of Saint Jerome Church. He was blessed with a flourishing parish. During his time as pastor, Father Barry was instrumental in building a new church, school and rectory. The school, staffed by the Sisters of Notre Dame, became an important part of the spiritual development of the parish. There are now hundreds of graduates of this school.

The ground-breaking ceremonies for the new church were held in September, 1964. This, the present church of tan brick, was built on the site of the former rectory at the corner of Bridge and Neck streets. The new church is two stories; the main church seats 500 and the lower hall has a seating capacity of 700.

The old church was razed. The altar of the old Saint Jerome Church, the tabernacle, vestment cases, some pews, the large window over the altar, the crucifix in the baptistery were all donated to the new Carmelite Monastery established in the Fall River diocese.

The history of Saint Jerome Church is a large tapestry, woven with good deeds by many, many people. Devoted, dedicated priests, selfless, generous nuns and thoughtful, kind parishioners, each in their own way, contributed to the parish to make it better and more spiritually vibrant.

Excerpted from the 50th anniversary book of Saint Jerome Parish © 1978

 


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