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St. Frances congregation will return to their church

UPDATE – St. Frances of Rome, Roman Catholic Church on Belleville Street in Wellington will re-open its doors Sunday, May 29th.

The first mass of the summer season follows the completion of major renovations to the roof, foundation and chapel. (see below)

Mass, beginning at 11:30 a.m. will be celebrated by the Archbishop of Kingston Brenden O’Brien, Father Thomas Thazhappally and other visiting priests with a reception to follow.

Members of the community are invited to attend the celebration.

-St. Gregory's Parish photo

-St. Gregory’s Parish photo

OCT. 3 – 2015 – A well-known landmark in Wellington is returning to take its place in the community.

“It’s through the good graces of the John M. and Bernice Parrott Foundation Inc. and the spirit of local parishioners the work was completed,” said Leo Finnegan, chair of the finance and property committee.

St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church, located at 65 Belleville Road, Wellington is one of the oldest churches in Prince Edward County. It was built in 1830 and Finngegan noted the interior of the church has changed little since it underwent repairs in 1931.

It is a Mission of St. Gregory’s in Picton.

A committee consisting of Father Thomas Thazhappally, is the Administrator of the Parish, and includes Wilf Buckle, Elizabeth Brown Davidson, Barbara Lyons, Chair of the parish pastoral council and Finnegan took on the task of rehabilitating the church.

Completion of the project means local parishioners and tourists will be able to attend mass in the beautiful old church on Sundays next summer.

The church has never had heat and hydro and it still does not today. It has been left pretty much as it was when some repairs are undertaken 85 years ago, but despite that, 50 to 60 families worshipped there every Sunday during the summer months – that is until the roof gave way last summer.

The work has been supervised by Ernie Margetson and performed by Doug Lester and his team from Quinte Insulators.

“Next summer, the St. Frances congregation will return to their own church for Mass. It’ll be a great day,” Finnegan said. “While St. Frances was unusable, parishioners continued their weekly worship through the generosity and invitation of Reverend Andrew Wilson at the St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Wellington.”

History of St. Frances of Rome
Historical content: Liz Brown Davidson
Historical source: Dan Stasko

The site has been a place of worship since 1668 when two priests came from Quebec at the invitation of the Cayuga Indians, part of the Iroquois Six Nation. After an arduous 26-day journey over dangerous rapids and portages through the deep woods up the Lachine, up the St. Lawrence River to the shores of the Bay of Quinte, the priests arrived. The exact whereabouts of this mission are unknown, though archeological evidence suggests it was just off the shore of Lake Consecon. The Sulpician priests ministered to at least three villages, Kente, Ganeraske (near present day Port Hope) and a village near Trenton until 1680. Although the Kente mission became an outpost for traders and explorers, it was largely unsuccessful as the natives left the area for better hunting grounds.

It took many years but by early 1830, the faithful returned to Prince Edward County. Tara Hall was deemed to the Roman Catholic Church as a boarding school. A nearby church, under the direction of the Recollet Fathers, consisted of a small white building with two rooms: one for the church, the other as a sacristy and classroom for men. Up until last year, regular Sunday Mass was held there for locals and visitors to the County during the summer months.

Over time, weather had ravaged the roof and thus, the interior had suffered damage that made the church unsafe for services this summer. It was the safety of the historic building that caused concern and ramped up efforts to repair this monument to the past. With the help of generous donors and under the leadership of Leo Finnegan, the expertise of local craftspeople and consultants, the committee sprang into action over the summer months. Completion of the repairs is nearing and the historic church will be ready to withstand the winter and for Mass to resume next summer.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere Else

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