Jesuit Parish Mission at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Fair Haven, CT, August 1884

FAIR HAVEN, CONN.—Fair Haven was till very recently a separate town, but now, it forms part of New Haven. Hew Haven is one of the most important cities in the State, as it is one of the handsomest cities in the whole country. The private residences are especially beautiful, and the streets are shaded with lofty elms. From the numbers of these trees, New Haven is often called the “City of Elms.” Yale College, one of the oldest institutions in the city, is one of the great ornaments and attractions of this city. It is said, that its scientific course holds the first place among all the colleges and universities in the States.

There are six Catholic Churches in the city, all having large congregations. This is most remarkable, when we remember, that Fr. Fitton, one of the pioneers of Catholicity in New England, undertook to build a church for the Catholics in the place, no one would sell him the land. When by some stratagem he succeeded in purchasing a site, the Protestant carpenters all refused to work for him. Not very many years have elapsed, and now the Catholics of New Haven number nearly one half of the population. They have not only large and well finished churches, but excellent parochial schools attached to all their churches. Here I think I am safe in saying, that the priests of Connecticut take a more lively interest in religious education than any others in New England. Not only do they erect schools, but they seem to follow up their working.

Fr. Mulholland is the Pastor of St. Francis Church, in which Frs. Maguire and Macdonald opened the first mission of the season on the 31st of August. The mission lasted but one week. As the mission was asked only for the men, of whom we were told there were about 1,000 in the Parish, we did not suppose we would have very laborious work. To our surprise, we found we were supposed to attend to the women and children as well. With the mission set in the warmest spell of the season, with the intense heat, poor ventilation and the church packed even into the sanctuary, the work was most oppressive and it was with great difficulty the Fathers were able to bring the mission to a close. With scarcely any assistance from the priests of the House, 1,800 Confessions were heard , and 2,000 received Holy Communion. Many went to Communion a second time on account of the Triduo previous to the 8th of September.

Fr. Mulholland has a beautiful Parochial School under charge of the Sisters of Mercy. He devotes much of his time and attention to it, and though open only a couple of years, it has already done much good. One thing we could not help noticing: it was the excellent discipline and behavior of the children. The manner in which the Sisters brought them in and out of the church was admirable. Though about 700 in number they pass by the church to and from school without the least noise, whilst the majority of them enter the church morning and evening to make a visit to Our Lord. I have never anywhere seen children that gave such satisfaction as the children of Fair Haven.

Rev. Bernard Maguire, S.J., “Missionary Labors of Father Maguire and Companions, From Aug. 31st to Dec. 22nd, 1884,” Woodstock Letters, Vol. XIV, No. 1 (1885): 113-114.

NOTE: Father Bernard Maguire, S.J. (1818-1886) was born in Ireland and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1824, settling in Maryland. In 1837 he joined the Jesuits and was ordained in 1850. Assigned to Georgetown College (now university), Washington, D.C., he served as president of the college from 1852 to 1858 and again from 1866 to 1870. From 1870 until his death in 1886, he preached missions throughout the United States, including the one described above.  

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