St. Patrick’s, Mount St. Patrick

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The roots of this parish in the Diocese of Pembroke go back to 1843 when Father John McNulty of County Mayo, Ireland, followed the Irish settlers to Mount St. Patrick. From his headquarters here, this devoted missionary established missions at Eganville, Osceola, Douglas, Renfrew and Lake Clear.

At this time the parish fell within the boundaries of the Diocese of Kingston. Father McNulty received from the government a lot of one hundred acres of land known as Lot 1 on Concession 14 in the Township of Brougham. In 1847 the Diocese of Bytown, now the Archdiocese of Ottawa was formed and St. Patrick’s Parish became a part of the Diocese. It remained that way for 51 years until, in 1898, the Diocese of Pembroke was formed and St. Patrick’s became a parish in that Diocese, becoming the oldest parish in the Diocese.

In 1869, Fr. John McCormac, who, like so many of the pioneers, came from Limerick supervised the construction of a new church, built from fieldstone. In 1870, Father McCormac blessed the spring, known as the Holy Well. In 1876, Archbishop Duhamel, of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, again blessed this well. The well is under the patronage of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Father J.J. Collins came in 1877 and did much to foster good relations among all religious denominations. In 1877, Father P.S. Dowdall began a building program, enlarging St. Patrick’s Church and establishing missions at Esmonde and Griffith. He was succeeded by Father P.T. Ryan, who later became Bishop Ryan.

Father John Ryan was appointed parish priest in 1902 and he supervised the building of a rectory.

In 1914, Father John Harrington arrived. He was instrumental in bringing the Sisters of St. Joseph to the parish in 1916. In 1929, Father Harrington directed the renovations that were to place St. Patrick’s among the most beautiful churches in rural Canada.

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The renovations included the building of a sacristy, the enlargement of the sanctuary, new floors, new pews, stained glass windows, new paintings, a pipe organ, steam heating, and a new metal roof. Total cost was about $50, 000. M>j. Sulphur of Renfrew was the contractor. The organ was a Casavant organ and the painting of the sanctuary and ceiling was done in fresco style by Prof. Guido Nincheri of Italy. He was born in Florence and obtained his diploma in painting and architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts. He introduced fresco painting to Canada in 1926 and decorated three churches in Montreal, but St. Patrick’s was the first church in Ontario to be done by fresco. This method of painting is done immediately after the plaster is applied to the walls and is still wet. Painting done this way never changes after it is dried out. If it becomes soiled it can be easily cleaned by washing with cold water and it will appear as fresh as it was when first applied.

Father T.J. Brady served the parish from 1944 to 1965 and endeared himself to all by his homespun industry and friendly disposition.

Father Roy Valiquette was parish priest from 1985 to 1995. He was a noted historian and has provided the parish with an excellent history of the church’s stained glass windows.

A new rectory was built and was blessed by Bishop Brendan O’Brien in March 1995.

Also in 1995, Father Patrick Blake was appointed. In addition to his parochial work Father Blake is well-known for his hockey career with the Flying Fathers. This hockey team traveled across Canada and abroad raising money for charities.

This article was transcribed from the “St. Patrick’s Parish” brochure available at the parish.

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