Church History

A few miles up the Connecticut River on its west bank lies the river port of Essex. Catholic settlers there in the 1850s and 1860s were few, and their history at the beginning is bound closely to the of the Old Saybrook Catholic Community. In 1876 Essex is mentioned as a mission out of the now firmly established parish at Chester, St Joseph's. It was a Chester pastor, Rev. Andrew Harty, who bought an old Episcopalian church in Essex and made it in 1898 a suitable and attractive place for the Catholic to worship. For over 25 years this converted church served the growing Catholic community in Essex, but in 1925 it was destroyed by fire.

Rev. Francis Kuster was pastor in Chester at the time of the Essex fire and to him fell the task of rebuilding. Through the generosity of the family of Patrick Campbell, a New Yorker who for many years had made his summer residence the quaint Connecticut town, Father Kuster was given a new building site, land in Essex Village on which the foundations of a demolished inn still stood. Far from being considered ruins waiting only to be removed these foundations of the old Pettipaug Inn proved of some use in the building of the new church. Partially resting upon them, Our Lady of Sorrows church, second to bear the name and still only a mission church, was ready for dedication in November 1926.

Father Kuster's later years were marked by much illness. For long periods Rev. David O'Keefe, resident at the time of St John's School in Deep River, administered the Essex Mission. In 1936 Our Lady of Sorrows was granted full parish status, though by the way of exception its first pastor, Rev. Patrick Killeen, also served as chaplain at St John's and for several years early in his pastorate continued to reside there.

The second pastor of the parish was Father Francis Murphy. He replaced Father Killeen, and remained the pastor of the parish for 32 years, until his death, in January 2000. Father Bradley Pierce was the temporary administrator until May 16, 2000. Then the new pastor, Father Paul Gaumond, was assigned as the resident pastor. In the last few years the parish has been growing fast with many new families and serves almost 500 families.

(Source: Old Saybrook Deanery)

 

Previous Pastors

Father Patrick Killeen- Became the first pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in 1936.  Our Lady of Sorrows was granted full parish status, though by the way of exception. Fr. Killeen also served as chaplain at St John's and for several years early in his pastorate continued to reside there.

Father Francis Murphy -The second pastor of the parish was Father Francis Murphy. He replaced Father Killeen, and remained the pastor of the parish for 32 years, until his death, in January 2000.

Father Paul Gaumond –Became the third pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in May of 2000.  He served until his death, in December of 2012.

Current Pastor - Father Arul Rajan Peter

 

In Memory of Mary Beth Stebbins
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