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St. Martin de Porres Church
Established 1942

St. Martin de Porres Parish grew out of New Haven’s Blessed Martin Center. The idea had originated in 1937 when the pastor of St. Brendan, Father John McLaughlin, organized the Blessed Martin de Porres Confraternity at his parish. The society consisted of black Catholics from the Cape Verde Islands.


When growth necessitated moving the meetings from St. Brendan to a former Dixwell Avenue police station in 1942, the official name of Blessed Martin de Porres Center was given. Father Peter L. Gerety, later Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, was appointed pastor. On May 16, 1943, the first Mass was offered at Blessed Martin Center.  Bishop Maurice F. McAuliffe presided at the liturgy. The center’s chapel was located in the basement.  A mission style church was later added to the building. On June 26, 1949, then Bishop Henry J. O’Brien dedicated the church.


In 1955, old St. Mary School was purchased. The building became the new Blessed Martin School under the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. St. Martin School closed in 1988.

St. Martin de Porres continues to be home to a thriving Black Catholic community in the heart of New Haven and a beacon of charity in the surrounding neighborhood community. 

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