About Our Parish

The Roman Catholic Parish of Our Lady of the Assumption, founded in 1949, is a suburban, archdiocesan parish located in Marshfield, MA. The parish is a multi-ethnic, socially, culturally, and educationally diverse faith community.

Our History

Our Lady of the Assumption Church is Marshfield's oldest Catholic congregation, its youngest parish and its newest church.  The first mass in Green Harbor was celebrated in 1897.  Our Lady of the Assumption was established as a mission in 1919 and finally became a parish in 1949.

The beginning of Catholicism in this area goes back to the early 19th century when the Glassworks were established in Sandwich that brought in Irish-Catholic glass-blowers recruited from the Watertown Glassworks.  The records at the Sandwich Historical Society show that the first recorded Catholic services were in 1825.  The Catholic workers would not be deprived of their religious services so they petitioned Bishop Benedict Fenwick, second bishop of Boston, for a priest and a church.  After years of having mass celebrated in private homes, the first mass in a church was celebrated on September 19, 1830 at a church dedicated to St. Peter.  This church served all Catholics from Provincetown to Hanover.  From 1849-1872, missionary priests rode the area on horseback providing services in homes or public buildings.  The missionaries could baptize, marry, and hear confessions; but to receive First Communion and Confirmation, the families had to go to St. Peter's in Sandwich.  The Catholic population continued to grow.

The first Catholic mass was celebrated in Plymouth in 1813 by Boston's first bishop, John Cheverus, who had been invited by Judge Joshua Thomas for two of his Irish-Catholic employees who were threatening to return to Ireland if they had no religious services.  On July 4, 1873, the cornerstone was laid for St. Peter's in Plymouth which was dedicated in 1879.  Catholics from Plymouth to Marshfield and all towns in between had their church.

St. Joseph's in Kingston began as the church of the Visitation and was a mission out of Plymouth from 1876 until it was established in 1908 as a parish and called St. Joseph's by William Cardinal O'Connell.  This church was the parent church for Marshfield at Green Harbor field in the summer of 1897.  In winter, he would celebrate mass in the old Albert Inn on Beach Street or in the dining room of the Webster House on Careswell Street (where Mama Mia's is now).

Father Haberstroh covered the area by horse and buggy, later by automobile.  He tried to rent a building, used as a dance hall, on what was later called Assumption Road.  Unable to rent the building he bought it for $800 and in 1919 Our Lady of the Assumption Church was born.  Father Haberstroh served from 1908-1922.

Pastors to serve St. Joseph’s (of which Assumption was a mission) were Rev. James Courtney 1923-1936 (following Fr. Haberstroh), Rev. George Gately 1936-1939.  At this time, Holy Family in Duxbury and St. Ann's in Ocean Bluff were missions of St. Joseph's.  Rev. John Phelan was pastor from 1939-1943 and during his term, the great Ocean Bluff fire consumed St. Ann's on April 21, 1941.  Many parishioners attended Assumption until a new chapel was provided. (Now St. Ann's hall).

Rev. Lawrence Morrisroe was pastor from 1943-1946 and it was during his tenure that Richard Cardinal Cushing established separate parishes at Duxbury and Ocean Bluff independent of St. Joseph's.  Assumption continued as a mission until July 29, 1949 when it finally became a parish with Rev. Andrew Corbett as the first pastor.  The next day the house on the corner of Careswell and Beach Streets was rented as a temporary rectory; it was owned by the Bohn family.  At that time, there were about 38 families or 170 people who were "year round" attendants of mass.  The summer people were noted contributors to the small but growing parish.  Father Corbett served until the appointment of Rev. Francis P. Foley on May 3, 1954.  He saw the first anniversary celebration of the parish in 1950.

On May 3, 1959, Rev. Daniel F. Leahy was appointed pastor.  At that time, there were plans to build a new church and a rectory on land donated by the Flaherty family on March 30, 1959.  The family gave 70,000 square feet of land on Careswell and Canal Streets.  The planned church was to seat 600 people with possible expansion for 200 more.  It was hoped that below the church would be a hall...."the best hall in Marshfield" that would be available for parties winter and summer.  Those plans never materialized, although the rectory was built and continues in use to this day.

In 1970, Rev. James Mahoney served one day, August 3rd, as administrator.  On August 4, 1970, Rev. Phillip McConville was assigned to Our Lady of the Assumption as pastor.  It was during Father McConville's time that the expansion of the parish began with the coming of Route 3.  In the 1950s, many summer cottages were converted to all-year-round homes and the population of Green Harbor grew.

On June 23, 1981, Assumption Church burned to the ground and most of the parish hall was destroyed.  Fr. McConville celebrated morning mass in the yard beside the still smoldering and dripping ruins.  He began immediately to organize a rebuilding effort.  This was accomplished with astonishing swiftness. 

For the next year, daily mass was celebrated in the sunroom of the rectory.  Sunday and Holy Day masses were celebrated at Gov. Winslow School through the summer and fall until a complaint was lodged about "separation of church and state".  So, until the new church was built, mass was celebrated in a small store beside the Green Harbor Post Office.  (Some parishioners attended St. Ann's on a "turn-a-bout" of the 1941 fire).

The land given by the Flaherty family would now become the site of the new Assumption Church with additional land given by Father McConville and his sister Marie McCormack.  All of this land had once belonged to Colonel Fletcher Webster.  It was a wedding gift from his father, the great statesman Daniel Webster, a resident of Marshfield (1832-1852).  In the 1840s, Col. Webster's home was known as Careswell House and the lane now called Linden Avenue was its driveway lined with linden trees planted by Daniel Webster, some of which still stand.  The pond behind the church as created by several springs that fed it and it was filled with pink pond lilies.  The pond was held in place by a dam which was laid out by Daniel Webster as a half mile road connecting the house with twenty-five acres of woodlands   The estate was sold by Fletcher Webster in 1853 after his father's death.  It became a hotel and a stagecoach terminus.  The Webster house burned in 1943 and the land was subdivided.

So, it was that on this historic place rose the new Our Lady of the Assumption Church.  On August 14, 1983, the Feast of the Assumption, Humberto Cardinal Medieros dedicated the new church to Our Lady.

Rev. Philip McConville retired in 1992 and Rev. Donald Clifford became the new pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church.  Under Father Clifford's direction, many improvements have been made including the new kitchen that was installed and classrooms that were created downstairs in the function area.  The altar area has been expanded and fans and air-conditioning have been installed in the church.  The congregation continues to grow with the expansion of the entire South Shore.

Several priests have served as pastor/administrator of Our Lady since Father Clifford's retirement.  The current Administrator, Father Paul Aveni, arrived at Our Lady in April 2014 and continues to grow our parish.

Our Lady of the Assumption is in its second half-century with a congregation committed, pious, and dedicated, taking pride in being part of the oldest Catholic congregation in Marshfield in the youngest parish and newest church.

*Excerpts from an article by Joan Scalponeti, published in the Marshfield Mariner, August 10, 1983.

 

 

 

Our Parish

About Our Parish

Deeply committed to Jesus Christ, we endeavor to become a unified community of faith, worship, and service. We strive to be a warm, welcoming and caring parish in which the gifts and talents of all, young and old, are recognized and graciously used to nourish others.


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