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St. Francis Church
Established 1868

Irish immigrants had been gathering in Fair Haven well before the mid-19th century. Mostly impoverished laborers, they initially celebrated Mass at St. Patrick Church with its pastor, Father Matthew Hart. In 1864, he bought the centrally located Clark property on Ferry Street as a future church site.

 

St. Francis parish was born on October 4, 1868, when Bishop Francis P. McFarland appointed Father Patrick A. Gaynor as first pastor. A basement church was ready for dedication on October 4 to coincide with the pastor’s appointment. On August 1, 1869, the congregation, which by now was mounting to 1500 people, witnessed the dedication of their upper church.

Father Patrick Mulholland added to the parish plant in 1881 with the opening of a school, the cornerstone of which was blessed by Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon on July 10. The Sisters of Mercy staffed it until 1985. The School Sisters of Notre Dame served in the parish from 1987 to 1988. In 2020, the school was merged into All Saints Catholic Academy (ASCA) by the Archdiocese of Hartford.

 

In 2017, the church was merged with St. Rose of Lima Church to form our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, and is now home to a thriving Spanish community.

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