Our Lady Queen of Peace History

BEFORE THE BUILDING – THE SPIRIT OF THE PLACE

       

There is no history of the first Catholics on the Boothbay peninsula – it was a most Protestant enclave. Life here was not easy and records show that it was very difficult to sustain a living for more than nine months out of a year. For anyone who chose to live here, the land was unforgiving but the ocean was plentiful and living off the water became a way of life. As a visiting missionary noted about his church location, Catholic churches in areas like ours were never given the opportunity to build in the best locations. He continued that Catholic churches were most often relegated to the “other side of the track.” History indicates the eastern side of Boothbay Harbor was the less desirable side in the olden days – pogey factories and laborers and seasonal artists colonies populated it.

From the very beginning of the Boothbay peninsula’s Catholicism, and until the present day, Our Lady Queen of Peace has enjoyed a mix of those from away and those who live here year-round. The congregation has always been made up of immigrants, artists, servants, fishermen, merchants and builders. Some of us call ourselves “summer people” which usually means we have two homes – one here and one someplace else where we spend the winter. The summer congregation, often filling the upper church, is comprised of a small handful of year-round communicants, a few more “summer people” and a vast majority of weekend travelers and visitors - a sea of changing faces.

Before the church was built, The Boothbay Register, Boothbay Harbor's weekly paper publishing since 1876, listed various local halls as Mass sites. Among these is the Knights of Pythias Opera House, now called The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor. Still in existence, The Opera House is a "must-see" to experience the whole of Our Lady's history: www.boothbayoperahouse.com, for more information.

 

Local families also offered their homes as Mass sites and the lore around one local home includes the story that a crucifix and a prayer to protect the home from damage from the elements was built into its walls. The names of those early families whose Catholicism eventually blossomed into Our Lady can be found in some of the windows in the upper church – Newcomb, Donaldson, McCabe. Add to those names those pictured in early First Communion photos – Carbone, Pinkham, Durfee, Luke, Arsenault, Peters, Granger, Brewer, Albe – and one sees the histories of those who still live and work and pray on the peninsula today.

In the twenty-first century Our Lady Queen of Peace is “clustered” with six other churches into one large parish. The seven churches are ministered to by Fr. Frank Murray, Pastor and Parochial Vicars Fr. Fredrick Morse and Fr. Normand Carpentier. The men travel among the church sites and must share an affinity with our first "pastor."

In our earliest years Our Lady was “clustered” with St. Patrick in Newcastle and St. Denis in North Whitefield, and served weekly according to Boothbay Register notices by the “pastor” assigned to us all. In 1916, Father Denis McCabe who resided in North Whitefield was serving North Whitefield, the Boothbay region and Newcastle. Today that distance is over a two hour round trip in a car on good roads, none of which were available to Father McCabe. Among the stories from the St. Denis archives is the tale of Father McCabe’s race horse, Willy. Legend has it that Willy was so fast at pulling Father’s carriage, that Father could say Mass on the third Sunday of every month at all three churches – St. Denis in North Whitefield, St. Patrick in Newcastle and Our Lady in Boothbay Harbor.

Probably a true story if all the Masses weren’t scheduled for 9am. Father McCabe’s relatives are remembered in one of the two original stained glass windows that have always flanked the upper sanctuary altar at OLQP.

When the land on which Our Lady stands was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland Maine in 1916 by Emma R. and Albert Lewis, four of the other seven current parish churches were already well-established communities: St. Patrick (Newcastle) was over a hundred years old; St. Mary (Bath) had survived sixty years; St. John (Brunswick) was almost thirty; St. Ambrose (Richmond) was just over 25. Our Lady welcomed worshippers in 1917, added the belfry and tower in 1924 and was dedicated by Bishop John Gregory Murray in 1926.

It’s hard to imagine Our Lady as anything but majestic and white but she was a weathered cedar shingled structure until the 1950s. A series of laborious and costly white paintings and stainings began in that era. The continued need to refurbish the exterior culminated in the decision to dress her in white siding in the 1970s. Her whiteness is considered one of her most alluring attributes in the Harbor's landscape.

A copy of the architect’s drawing for Our Lady hangs in the church hall signed by T.G. O’Connell. O’Connell is reputed to have produced some 600 civic and religious buildings and was the architect of record for the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Lewiston, Maine. Little is known about O’Connell except that when he closed his office in Boston in the 1950s he destroyed all his records and drawings. Our Lady’s design certainly had to be inspired by the love of and dependence on the waters around it. Her interior mimics the shape of a ship’s hull turned upside down. Built from the same materials as the famous wooden boats of the region, it is a tribute that today Our Lady sits regally just inside the harbor as a beacon for sailors.

 

 

Contemporary Views

Some say there is evidence a ship builder, a Captain whose last name might have been Cook, was the superintendent of the building project that took place between 1916 and 1924. Others who were children when the building was under construction remember Beatrice Campbell as the “force behind the building” and her husband, Ben, as the builder. Whoever was in charge, the building was dedicated in 1926 by Bishop John Gregory Murray and called “St. Mary’s Church” in The Boothbay Register’s listing of Mass times.

In the early years at the turn of this millennium, Archbishop George Pearce, SM. shared first hand accounts of growing up during the summers around the church here. He remembered the “big wooden box they built next to the ice pond as a hall to rent out” to raise money for building the church. There was an active summer art community on Mt. Pisgah beyond the ice pond and movies were shown in the hall to “pick up a few dollars to pay for the church.” In his book The Boothbay Harbor Region, 1906-1960 (page 188) Harold B. Clifford says that in the summer of 1924 “St. Christopher’s Hall was built and offered a season of movies and dancing.” Archbishop Pearce remembered that a Father Charrette, assistant to Father McCabe, had as an added responsibility, the splicing of the movies. This task, according to the Archbishop, was most distasteful to Father Charrette since his training had led him to believe that movies were the door to the devil’s den. The memory is vivid for Archbishop Pearce because his mother was the organist for the church and played the piano for the silent movies. He laughs as he recounts seeing men jumping from cliffs on the screen while his mother dramatically banged away on the piano.

THE EARLY YEARS
Our Lady Queen of Peace was made a parish in 1928, and Father Sullivan was named the first resident pastor. Archbishop Pearce’s mother was also the summer organist in the twenties so his tales include many memories of Father Sullivan’s devoted activities to raise the money to pay off the newly built church’s debt. After the Eucharist, “he took off his chasuble, picked up the collection box and did the whole church personally. Sometimes there even was a second collection!” laughs archbishop Pearce. Although the summer congregation was large, Our Lady was populated year-round by only twelve families. A small chapel was built in the basement to meet the needs of that small winter congregation.

Photo Credits this section:
OLQP – findelarue
Opera House – findelarue
Newcomb Windows – Father Dinga AS Parish Collection

McCabe Window - Father Dinga AS Parish Collection
Father McCabe – St. Denis Historical Committee
McCabe First Communion Picture – OLQP Archives
OLQP without tower circa 1924 – OLQP Archives
OLQP with tower circa 1926 – OLQP Archives
Architect O’Connell Drawing – OLQP Archives
Upper Church Sanctuary – Father Dinga As Parish Collection
Beatrice Campbell – from tombstone in video Our Lady Queen of Pieces
OLQP with “Big Box” – newspaper clipping – The Boothbay Register
Mrs. Pierce at the Organ – Higgins Collection used for video Our Lady Queen of Pieces
Father Sullivan – OLQP Archives

 

THE CHAPEL

Over the years the chapel has been refurbished and enlarged as the needs of our families and the rubrics of the Church changed. Services are still held in the chapel in the “cold” months every year – after Columbus Day and until Memorial Day. Unheated, the upstairs sanctuary is opened for the annual live nativity at Christmastime. The event is Our Lady’s contribution to the annual Harbor Lights Festival presented by the Boothbay Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

In 1936 when Jean Thompson was 12, she arrived on the peninsula with her mother. She remembers the chapel being “about the size of the altar in the present chapel. The area that is now our chapel (where the congregation sits) was just ledge and a crawl space. The altar was handmade – very plain. Pews holding 4 or 5 were on the left side, folding benches were on the right…(there) was a stove that was stoked by Lowell Newcomb about halfway through the Mass.” Sadly, pictures of these days in the chapel continue to elude us.

There are pictures from the chapel’s next redo in the 1950s. Jean’s account says “by that time we needed more room for worshippers. Father Manette and the men of the parish planned and had the chapel professionally built.” In addition to more room, it presented a pretty altar and pine-paneled walls. “A very peaceful place,” she adds.

Indeed, the church records reflect the details of that major renovation: Clifford Reny “supervised the rebuilding, made contacts and gave unstintingly of this time and labor without his help the work would not have been attempted not would it have been done on time and with minimum cost.”

Sitting in the chapel pews, one can thank those who have gone before us by reading the names in the windows who led the 1950s chapel renovations and more.

 

 

 

 

 

In the archives of The Boothbay Register, a front page story from in the June 2, 1950, edition reports the drowning of a summer resident, John Davis. Although they would be considered “people from away,” the Davis family was very active at Our Lady and the memory of their son whom locals knew as “Jack” is celebrated throughout the Church. Davis family members -- including Jack’s mother and father, Mr. & Mrs. Edward S. Davis; Jack’s brother, Rev. Thomas Davis, who often said Mass at Our Lady; and two other brothers, Robert and E.S. Davis, Jr. -- generously provided, in all or in part, the following improvements: the church roof, the tabernacle safe on the main altar in the upper church, the sanctuary light stand, several staining and painting renovations to the shingled outside, the church basement enclosure, regilting of the outside crosses, the priests' sedilia, the baptismal font, kneeler payments, the Sacred Heart statue, 3 of the colored glass windows in the chapel (Davis, Fitzsimmons, Magee), and the chapel Stations of the Cross. The Stations were canonically erected in June of 1957 by Bishop Feeney.

After Vatican II, changes at the altar and parish growth demanded more and different space yet again. While the construction took place, the congregation moved into the parish hall for Masses. Records from the time indicate the pews were purchased from St. Mary in Wells and the Stations of the Cross were a gift from Pius X in Portland. The cost of the renovation came to $89,000. The chapel’s organ was a gift from Mr. & Mrs. Edward Geatens and Mr. & Mrs. Paul Gerrity. The Processional Cross, altar candle and two new ciboria were given by Phyllis Reny in memory of her husband, Clifford Reny, who had been so instrumental in the chapel’s 50s renovation. The pulpit was a gift of Mr. & Mrs. M. Ernest Menard in memory of their parents and a tapestry was given by Katherine (Kay) Hallinan in memory of her husband Richard. At the same time the upper church was gifted with a new organ, donated by George McEvoy, a bas-relief given in memory of Betty Geatens, a processional cross and green lecturn cover in memory of Irene Peters, acolyte candles by Ada De Pass and the sanctuary lamp by Maria Cartes Poore.

In the new millennium, a significant gift given in memory of Marie Pearce Higgins sparked another upgrade to the chapel altar. Designed by parishioner Robert Splaine and built under the guidance of Steve Malcom of The Knickerbocker Group, an elegantly conceived space with simple lines made a home for the tabernacle to be returned to the center of the congregation's sightline. The environment provides for tasteful, seasonal enhancements.

But we get ahead of the story.

 

Photo Credits this section:
Chapel Today – Father Dinga All Saints Collection
Chapel circa 1950s – OLQP Archives
Chapel Construction – OLQP Archives
Davis Clipping - Boothbay Register - Video Research "Pieces II"
Chapel circa 1980s – OLQP Archives

1930s & 40s
Rev. Martin O-Toole served as pastor for sixteen years during a time when both the peninsula and church’s year-round populations were growing. Perhaps the story that most explains Father O’Toole’s time at Our Lady can be “read” in the Prosper and Mary Gallant windows in the upper church.

Few people remember the Gallants and those who do remember them as quiet people of limited means. Research in county records uncovered that when Prosper passed, having been pre-deceased by his wife, he left the remains of his simple existence in the hands of Father O’Toole. His request included that he and Mary be remembered in perpetuity at Masses. Although there are no records showing who purchased the Gallant windows, and no indication that Prosper, Mary or any relative could afford such a tribute, the two do rest “in perpetuity” in the “Body and Blood” windows. Other stories about Father O’Toole in the diocese would lead one to believe he would - and did - orchestrate such a living and long-lasting prayer for the Gallants.

Our Lady's records report the formation of both the Catholic Women's Club and The Catholic Men's Club Under Father O'Toole's leadership and an increase in the numbers attending on-going catechetical classes. Among the ranks of those preparing for sacraments was (Therese) Marie (Peters) McLellan who in 2011 helped identify others in this picture. Marie is the tall pretty teenager, smiling from the back row.

Another Father O'Toole class picture captures some repeaters from the earlier image and some new faces of all ages. Bob Carbone helped identify members of his family as he pointed out the edge of his shoulder behind the stalwart visage of another young man. "I've always hid from cameras," he said. Bob's shoulder can almost be seen between the two boys on the far right.

Bob's grandparents came to Boothbay Harbor and opened Carbone's Food store in 1909 on the wharf in the town center. Three generations would own and run the store until Bob sold it in 1994. Over the last 100 years, five generations of Carbones have celebrated sacraments at Our Lady and mementos of those times are stored in a sister's barn upstate. "We never organized anything," says Bob.

"My mother wasn't Catholic," he begins, "but we always went to church. Dad was in the store all the time and couldn't get there, but he always made sure the kids went. We could walk back then." Carbone's was open from 6am to 10pm seven days a week. Bob says he remembers following the church's rule to fast before receiving and, after a long day at work in the store with his dad, he would get to church to serve on the altar with such hunger pangs. Once he recalls actually passing out on the altar from the hunger and the heat. "There were other times when I felt it coming on and I went out back," he said. Bob Carbone served Masses with both Father O'Toole and Father Manette. "I started serving when I was eight years old," he said. he also remembered the priests visiting his family at the store.

In The Boothbay Harbor Region 1906-1960 by Harold B. Clifford, (page 271) the "Maine Veteran Physical Rehabilitation Center" is reported open in 1944 "at Buzzell's, 23 men enrolled, first program of its kind in the country." By the 1950s according to Clifford (page 287), "the fine facility known as 'Walter Buzzell's' on the Damariscotta, with its salt-water swimming pool, tennis and handball courts, gymnasium, solarium, wide lawns and beautiful flower beds" was being considered for a family recreation center. But in the 1940s, the property was a camp for returning veterans and church records show that Father O'Toole was working with the men enrolled in the program there.

 

Photo Credits this section:
Gallant Windows – findelarue for Our Lady Queen of pieces video
Sacraments Class 1 – Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives
Sacraments Class 2 – Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives
1946 Postcard – Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives

 

1950s
The first entry in Our Lady's 1950s' record of gifts reads: Mass is being offered on the 27th of each month for the soul of John Davis, in whose memory the roof of the church presently standing, was donated as his posthumous gift by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Davis, Sr." The Davis family truly loved Our Lady through many memorial gifts in memory of their son and brother.

And so began the decade of repairs, expansions and renovations that always accompany active use of an historic building. The 1950s brought Father Manette to OLQP and, according Jean Thompson, the beginning of a larger and younger congregation. Writing her memories for the history of the church in 2011, Jean remembers larger and more active CCD classes.

 

According to Jean, a “Miss Renta Remy made a substantial donation to Father Manette to build a church hall with study rooms.” Records show that those donations were made over time and that the classrooms and hall were actually a project for the 1960s. From Jamaica, New York, Miss Remy was a professor (math) at Hunter College in NYC and a long time summer visitor whose beneficence is evidenced over decades. The Renata name is attached to repair on all the stained and colored glass, reinforcement of the belfry, payment on kneelers, the purchase of an electronic Baldwin organ and floor repair in the main sanctuary - all in the 1950s.

An undated history by Josephine Newcomb Carbone (a distant cousin of the Carbone market family) says that “If the church of Our Lady Queen of Peace today is devotional within and attractive from without, it is due in large part to Fr. Manette, to the generous and loyal spirit of its members of the Parish and to the generous contributions to the church, and the interest in the welfare of the parish by a number of summer residents and benefactors.”

The history continues: “The first thing that Father Manette did on his arrival was to mow the lawn so that he might find the church door, touch up the sanctuary to make it presentable, and to clean up the church grounds.” What follows then is a litany of years and what was accomplished in each:

“In 1953 the whole church was painted.
In 1954 (or ‘55) the carpet for the sanctuary in the big church was donated.
In 1955 the chapel was enlarged and remodeled.”

 

 

 

Here the author inserts this anecdote:
“During the time of the construction, Father Manette asked Father Davis (Rev. Thomas Davis, brother of John Davis) to go over and see the new chapel. Upon his return he remarked that it reminded him of the caves at Bethlehem. Now the chapel had its name – Bethlehem Chapel….” There is still a plaque in the chapel entry today marking the naming of the space.

The litany continues:
“In 1956 a new entrance was made for the front of the church when the road was reconstructed.
In 1957 the sanctuary was remodeled with new walls and newly varnished floor.
In 1958 the kitchen was remodeled in the (rectory).
In the spring of 1959 new (shingles were) put on the exterior of the church…..”
Into the early years of the 1960s, the list continues, cataloging all the continuing needs of a campus in use.

 

Photo Credits this section:
Father Manette – Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives
1957 Confirmation Class – Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives DFB
1954 Chapel Entrance - Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives
1956 Chapel Entrance - Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives
Chapel Details during Mass - Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives
Bethlehem Chapel Plaque – Powis
“Varnished Floor” Forty Hours Photo - Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives

 

1960s

 

In addition to the usual and customary repairs and renovations, the 1960s brought actual spotlights to the front of the church, the installation of a sound system in the main sanctuary and the addition of a concrete parking lot made possible with donations by “people from away.” But the most memorable event came in 1962 when someone “from away” focused all eyes on Our Lady Queen of Peace for one day.

The election of John F. Kennedy, Jr. in 1960 caused Catholic celebrations all across America, but it was his visit to Our Lady Queen of Peace in 1962 that made memories that are still treasured by many on the peninsula decades later.

Josephine Carbone’s history reads: "On Sunday morning, August 12, 1962, we had one of our greatest honors. The then president, John F. Kennedy attended Mass here along with his sister Mrs. Peter Lawford. It is our contention he received the best possible reception. Everyone who was at the scene received a personal satisfaction. We enjoyed the visit because it gave us a day unlike any other. It cast a spell here that has lingered. It brought out our best, as such visits have done elsewhere. It was a day, surely not like any other in the region, which illuminated our times. It was a day well worth remembering.”

Parishioner Barbara Fossett was the only woman on the Harbor police force at the time and her memoires are still extremely vivid. She said she was pledged to total secrecy and could talk to no one about what was going on. For a week and a half she guided the Secret Service through strange and amazing places like “the freezer at the old coop, the crawl spaces at the Sea Pier. The president had a wrestler friend. Do you remember John Tunney?” she asked while being interviewed in 2011. “Tunney had an island and they all came from the island in a small boat.” She said it was her responsibility to contact the priest and that no one knew for sure where Kennedy would be worshipping. “Most people thought he was going to St. Pat up in Newcastle,” she said, “because it was old and all. But we knew he was coming here and it was exciting. His back was hurting him even then – you could tell by how he walked,” she added thoughtfully. The Kennedy visit is memorialized in two places in the main sanctuary today. A plaque on the rear wall, Queen of Peace side, pictures the president on the church steps, and the pew in which he sat is marked with another plaque.

Josephine Carbone's son, Tom, worked for United Press International at the time and submitted many pictures during the 1963 Kennedy visit to Maine. In addition to images of the President and his sister at Our Lady, Tom captured and submitted JFK arriving in Brunswick and enjoying a boat ride with Governor Muskie and Senator Ben Smith of Massachusetts. Because Tom was a stringer for UPI, he would not get personal credit for images of the president's visit. As a stringer, a photographer's images belonged to his or her employer. Even today, Tom's pictures reside in various collections and archives accessed by the media and researchers as they revisit Kennedy's days as president and, specifically, his visit to Maine. The pictures here were loaned to Our Lady for this history by Tom's widow, Debbie, and several are captioned "the old fashioned way" for submission.

In 1964, a gift of carillons - Schulmerick Americana Basilican Bells - was donated to Our Lady by a person “not of our faith” according to Josephine Carbone’s notes. Our Lady Queen of Peace was chosen as the recipient of the gift, says Carbone, after a “careful study of the region had been made, for being in the best of possible locations, up on a hill, near the water, and for the tower so that all the region would enjoy the music.” The carillon dedication recital was held on Sunday, July 12, 1964. Details about the carillon’s parts and operations are available in the OLQP archives and in the Our Lady Queen of Peace 1960s files at Boothbay Region Historical Society. The carillon was silenced in the 1970s. You will find its story in the 1970s section.

The first parish council was formed in 1967 made up of the pastor and six lay members - three elected and three chosen by Father Manette. Mr. Clifford Reny was elected the first president; Mr. Bernard Coady, vice president; Mrs. Leon Murray, secretary. The first undertaking of this council was the ambitious project of building that CCD building so desperately needed by the growing number of Catholic families in the community.

The project’s biggest benefactor, Renata Remy, died May 23, 1968. Church records of the time say “a Mass of requiem is offered each month” for her. The project would not be totally completed until the 1970s. Isabel Lewis opened her scrapbooks to provide a sampling of the 1960s young people at Our Lady.

The Shadis family came to the area in the late 1960s in a back-to-the earth movement. They settled in Wiscasset where Ray Shadis taught school while the family hunted for a coastal farm. A shingle that read "Liturgical Artist" at their Route One Wiscasset home stirred the curiosity of Father Henry Sims from St. Patrick who happened to be driving by one day and stopped. Father Sims was a member of the diocesan Arts Committee at the time but he was always on the lookout for interesting people to gather.

"We gravitated to St Pat because of that stop," recalls Shadis. In 1970 the family moved to their farm in Edgecomb where the "Liturgical Art" shingle caught the attention of Father Manette. "Father Manette went and spoke to Fr. Sims about sheep stealing," laughs Shadis. "Father Manette was quick to point out that Edgecomb was within his (Manette's and Our Lady's) boundaries. The 1960s were still a time when parishes had boundaries and flocks belonged to a particular church by virtue of those boundaries. Father Manette was one of those priests. He went to Father Sims and was quite clear about where we belonged - and so we began to worship at Our Lady."

"Let me saint Father Manette for you," Shadis continues. "Father Manette was this really old guy - a great sense of humor and candid up front to the point of rudeness (laughter) - a full blown saint. He had an accent that was like part down east but maybe Boston or something - his words had a lot of Ys in them." Shadis tries to mimic a Manette dialect to the delight of everyone listening.

Then this story blossoms:
"We had a family from Wiscasset who used to come to Mass. There were a bunch in the family - they did not have much. One day after Mass, their car wouldn't start. They had an old station wagon. And Father Manette said, 'Oh, why don't you just take my car.' When the head of the family replied that he wasn't sure when they would be getting back to return the car and Father Manette railed, 'I'm not loaning it to you. I'm giving it to you. Take my car!' And then the next day he called up to Leavitt's garage that used to be where the town hall is, and said, 'I need a car. Bring me a car. Six cylinder, plain car. And I'd like it this afternoon.' There was talk of options available on the cars available and he finally said,' I don't care. They're all junk. Just bring me a car.'"

Some of Father Manette's exchanges seem brusque in the retelling but Shadis assures us Father's intentions were never so. "Father Manette would stop saying Mass, trundle off into the sacristy and come out with a couple of chairs for late comers," he adds. "I can't swear that he ever interrupted the canon but maybe he did."

Shadis smiles continuously as he remembers Father Manette and says his family drifted back to Newcastle and St. Patrick as his children got older and involved at Lincoln Academy. That drift didn't occur, however, until Ray's liturgical art had its day at Our Lady.

 

Photo Credits this section:
1960s images of OLQP from the Harbor – Private Collection, Tom Carbone Family
All Kennedy Photos – Private Collection, Tom Carbone Family
Lincoln County Deputies – Private Collection news clipping, Barbara Fossett
Carillon Program - Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives DFB
Hall Construction - Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives DFB
1960s Sacramental Prep and Altar Boys – Private Collection, Isabelle Lewis
Neighborhood Mass – Private Collection, Jean Thompson
1969 Sanctuary – Our Lady Queen of Peace Archives DFB

 

1970s

 

The 1970s brought Our Lady to her fiftieth birthday. She had seen many changes to her physical plant and was about to see more as the Catholic Church in general was experiencing many changes brought on by Vatican II. According to an article from The Boothbay Register, September 7, 1978, outlining Our Lady’s fifty years on the peninsula, this was a time when “devotions and parish organizations which were meaningful to former generations of Catholics no longer were serving their intended purpose.” It was time to “deepen the sense of parish community and personal involvement by the parishioners.”

The Parish Council was reorganized. Six committees were named: Church Life, Worship & Spirituality, Religious Education, Social Action, Family Life & Youth, and Finance & Administration. The sanctuary of the church was completely renovated to bring it into conformity with the requirements of Vatican II liturgy reforms. Special Ministers of the Eucharist were trained and installed for the first time.

Ray Shadis, with his liturgical art training and experience, was engaged by Father Lee to design a Vatican II compliant worship space in the upper sanctuary. It was during this renovation that the two original stained glass windows that had hung above the altar in the apse were moved to their current homes as side altars. Vatican II guidelines directed tabernacles be moved to a Place of RESERVATION and a Place of REPOSE be created for the Holy Scripture. At Our Lady, the tabernacle assumed its Place of Repose under the moved Nativity window which had been donated in memory of the family of Thomas McCauley. The Holy Scriptures (a beautiful Dali Bible), took its Place of Repose under the moved Resurrection window which had been donated in memory of relatives of Father McCabe.

At the same time all of the filigree work was removed, again in keeping with the Vatican II guidelines that the worship space should reflect the culture of the community around it. It was a time to simplify. Ray says the inspiration for what was newly created for the apse came from a local oral history. He was told Our Lady's naming was originally to be "Our Lady, Queen of the Sea," but when World War I came along everything changed. As a reflection of the community's relationship to the ocean and directed by the oral history, Ray was commissioned to create a new altar piece. The result was the bas-relief medallion of "Our Lady, Queen of the Sea" now hanging in the entrance on the lower level. "High above the main altar would have been the traditional location for a rose window" says Shadis, explaining why the piece is round. The medallion is still called "the Big Blue Madonna" today.

 

Just as the Vatican II reforms were celebrated by some and mourned by others, so followed the popularity of the Carillon bells of the 1960s. From the church archives, a letter from Boothbay Harbor Town Manager, Clarence S. Wilkinson dated June 8, 1971, reads:
“Enclosed is a copy of a complaint delivered to the Board of Selectmen at their June 7th meeting. The Board has asked me to act as liaison in hope of a mutual understanding and solution. I am, therefore, respectfully requesting that the scheduled ringing of the chimes be reduced by one half which I feel should placate the objectors. We certainly do not wish to create a rift among our people over what may seem to you and me a puzzling attitude.”

The attached “complaint” is signed by 13 families. Above the signatures it reads:
“We the undersigned, wish to register a formal complaint regarding the mental anguish and infringement on our privacy that has been imposed upon us by the constant ringing of the bells on an exterior loud speaker by the Church located at Atlantic Avenue., Boothbay Harbor, Me.”

In the same OLQP archive folder is the editorial titled CHURCH CARILLONS DISCUSSED. The editorial says there was a recess called at the selectmen’s meeting so that “voters might discuss the discontinuance of the playing of the carillons and the floodlighting of the front of the church…on the harbor’s east side.”

Long story shortened, there was talk of a court order being issued and the church, once the neighbors’ concerns were registered, voluntarily stopped the bells and turned off the lights. Problems solved? Oh no. The Register’s editorial suggested readers express their views “by means of a Letter to the Editor…so that the Selectmen will have helpful thoughts on how some Region residents and summer visitors feel on the matter.”

Just as much as the neighbors were disturbed by the bells, letters poured in favoring reinstating both the bells and the lights, asking for some kind of compromise and/or thanking Father Lee, the pastor, for becoming a “peacemaker.” The letters represent both the majority who enjoyed the bells from a distance and the minority who lived “next door.”

“Compromise is impossible,” says one writer. “Playing the bells less frequently would do no good. Even once a day would be too much. The minority want no more of it, ever.”

“Many, many times as I was busy outside hanging clothes and playing with my children I heard the bells ring and as they rang I stopped to listen and I remembered God and His love for Us,” writes another. On the other hand, “I have no words to express the pleasure I have personally experienced in the last few weeks, to be able to hang laundry on the clothesline without a ear-shattering concert, to sleep late in the morning and not be blasted from my bed, the joy of opening windows to air a stale room…” writes another. “Silence is golden,” she concludes. Nuisance or nirvana, the bells were not turned on again. The lights, however, have continued to transfigure the edifice and make Our Lady a beacon for ships and boats entering the harbor.

Perhaps the best summation of what happened is reflected in this letter:
“To the Editor.
Now that the serenity and peace and quiet has been restored on Atlantic Avenue after the seven year siege of the battle of the bells. May we appeal to our canine lovers who own some of our friendly furred animals that go off on these marathon barking binges especially in the night time and early morning hours to show a little restraint and consideration….." If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Perhaps heaven had the last word? After all, God spelled backwards is Dog!

In 1971 the Parish Hall was completed. A picture from the 1974 wedding of Jay and Marie Warren shows the hall in the background as the bride makes her way down the lawn. “Remember the community dances?” asks Pat Wheeler during a discussion about the parish hall. She remembers so many people doing the bunny hop in the hall that Father Lee joked that the floor would surely cave if a special support was not installed.

In 1976, it became apparent that the church and the hall needed to be connected and what was called "the Annex" was built. Painting and re-shingling, rectory renovation, and the addition of the reconciliation room and baptistery in the lower church also happened in the 70s.

It was a time of faith sharing and community presence as Father Lee instituted the first Seder, the first Blessing of the Fleet and the first Blessing of Animals. The first Summer Fair added to those annual traditions still celebrated today. The decade ended as a new statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was installed in front of the church.

Photo Credits this section:
Sanctuary 1970s - Private Collection, Marie & Jay Warren
Card from 50th Anniversary - Private Collection, Jean Thompson
Training of Eucharistic Ministers - OLQP Archives DFB
Ray Shadis & Our Lady Queen of the Sea - Powis
Sanctuary, 50th Anniversary - OLQP Archives
Complaint Letter - OLQP Archives
Complaint Editorial News Clip from Boothbay Register - OLQP Archives
Newly Built Parish Hall - Private Collection, Marie & Jay Warren
Seder - OLQP Archives BRF
Blessing of Fleet - OLQP Archives DFB
Blessing of Animals - OLQP Archives DFB
Summer Fair - OLQP Archives
Installation of Our Lady's Statue - OLQP Archives
Our Lady Today - All Saints Photos by Father William Dinga
Our Lady Plaques - Powis

 

1980s

With all the growth and activity, the chapel again needed to be enlarged and the 1980 renovation discussed earlier took place. Records show that in 1981 a fire alarm system was installed monitoring the church, the parish hall and the rectory around the clock. Parishioner, Jay Warren who served as a volunteer fireman at the time, recounted how the church building was threatened by a blaze in the neighborhood at the freezer across the street and imagined the alarm system installation was in response to this disaster. 1984 and 85 construction and renovation focused on building the double garage and establishing our parking lot.

 

A most thoughtful gift of a chair lift on the steps leading to the upper sanctuary and parish hall was installed in the new annex. The lift was given in honor of Mrs. Marie Pearce who served Our Lady Queen of Peace as organist for more than half a century. She was delighted to take the first ride, most assuredly flabbergasted at the changes she had seen from the days when she accompanied the silent films in the "big box building next door" to now being lifted to the second floor of new construction on a moving chair. The lift was replaced in 1990 by the elevator system, "dedicated to our fellow members of God's family at Our Lady Queen of Peace and to Father Marcel Chouinard, in thanksgiving for all god's bountiful blessings on our family. Joan and Jim McTevia."

 

The 1983 records indicate the church donated a parcel of land across the street from the church to the Fishermen’s Memorial Fund and then quotes a price for Our Lady’s portion of the pavement costs. The entry belies the effort and emotion associated with what happened to this specific piece of property. For that, the files give up a Portland Press Herald newspaper clipping: one of Bill Caldwell’s “On Maine” columns dated October 1983. It is entitled ”Oars forever at rest” and reads in part as follows:

The simplest words and the plainest symbols are the most moving and eternal.

Millions have watched the state funeral of a president and the most moving sight of all are the empty boots, reversed in the stirrups, on a riderless horse. It is a symbol which spells final departure, irreversible loss with absolute finality.

Another symbol is the volley of shots fired at the grave of a soldier and the chilling sound of Taps blown on an unseen bugle.

Three short words on a gravestone, “Lost at sea”, evoke the loneliness of death, the smallness of man and the immensity of oceans. Walk among the headstones of a graveyard in any coastal town of Maine and you see those three small words cut in many a headstone.

See them in the meadow, among wildflowers, on the moss-covered, wind-worn grave markers on a Maine island; those three short words sound with greater majesty than the boom of a giant cathedral organ.

These simple words have a brotherhood with a simple symbol. Oars at rest in an empty dory.

This symbol is not so widely known as the symbol of the empty boots, reversed in the stirrups of a riderless horse. But the families of Maine fishermen have for hundreds of years known this symbol of thousands of loved men, last at sea in watery graves.

Soon, thanks to the fishermen of the Boothbay Harbor region, more people in Maine and the world will know the symbolism of oars at rest in an empty dory. A lasting monument to men lost at sea will be erected and blessed at 2pm on Sunday, October 16, at the shore of Boothbay Harbor.

The 20-ton granite block on which the monument will rest was moved into place a few days ago. The monument is an empty dory, cast in bronze. In it the long oars are forever at rest.

The monument will sit, overlooking the harbor, on ground given by the Roman Catholic diocese and the Boothbay Harbor Catholic church with the lovely name of Our Lady of Peace.

This is the landmark church known to every seaman making port in Boothbay Harbor. At night, its white, floodlit steeple is a beacon signifying home and safety. It is most fitting that this new memorial will be part of this special homecoming beacon for sailors and fishermen.

The bronze from which the dory is cast came from the sea. Fishermen from the Boothbay region and from Monhegan Island, collected more than 1,500 pounds of brass and bronze fittings from wrecks and old boats. John Tourtiilotte of Boothbay Harbor melted down the fittings at the J.F. Hodgkins foundry in Randolph, on the banks of the Kennebec River.

That family company, founded 90 years ago to make fittings for boats, cast the dory and the oars at rest.

The pattern was made by Sonny Hodgdon, whose family has been building boats around Boothbay Harbor for 150 years…….

It ....a memorial and a loving, respectful tribute to Maine fishermen lost at sea as well as a reminder for all who make it safely back to port.

Our Lady’s ecumenical spirit also spilled over into the founding of the Harbor’s Food Pantry in the mid 1980s. Inspired by the energy of parishioner Chet Johnson and supported by the parish council and Father Lee, Chet called a meeting to explore such a possibility. The first meeting of 14 clergy and lay people was held at the Boothbay Harbor Congregational Church on September 17, 1985. Rev. David Stinson generously offered space in the Murray House on the Congregational Church property and volunteers had it operational by October. Chet worked with town managers on administrative matters related to the Pantry’s clients and its success is still celebrated today.

Father Marcel Chouinard became Our Lady’s pastor in the late 1980s and in her April 2011 notes, Jean Thompson remembers him as a “busy, happy priest for us.” She adds, “He changed the Big Blue Madonna to the present altar piece.” Indeed, church records show the “Risen Christ” still with us in the upper sanctuary is listed in 1987 gifts to the parish “through donations.” To some this new installation affectionately became known as "Jumping Jesus."

The script for the parish 70th Anniversary celebration in 1998 recalled this story about the 1980s and Father Chouinard's pastorate:."..we took up singing in a big way. Even songs to instruct us in housekeeping protocol at the end of Mass (e.g. Kneelers up, windows down, etc)." Father Chouinard's joy extended to the continuation of the Blessing of the Animals and the institution of the first live nativity - with real animals, a real baby and real snow.

The late 1980s also ushered in the decision to put white vinyl siding on the church’s exterior. Maine Wide Enterprise completed the task to the tune of $35,420.

Photo Credits this section:
New Chapel Open House Newspaper Clip - OLQP Archives GREEN
New Chapel Entrance - OLQP Archives BRF
Marie Pierce - 2 images from OLQP Archives BRF
Fishermen's Memorial, horizontal - All Saints Collection by Fr. William Dinga
Fishermen's Memorial Construction - OLQP Archives BRF
Chouinard Blessing Fleet - OLQP Archives BRF
"Jumping Jesus" Detail from Image - All Saints Collection by Fr. William Dinga
Chouinard Blessing Animals - OLQP Archives
Live Nativity - OLQP Archives

 

1990s

May 1, 1990 marked the establishment of the Knights of Columbus Council 10356 at Our Lady Queen of Peace, named for the first resident pastor, Rev. John J. Sullivan. A Boothbay Register article by Robin Beck in the December 13th edition spoke to the Knights' founding both locally and internationally. "The Boothbay Harbor chapter boasts thirty-one members," she writes, "under the leadership of Grand Knight Anthony Squillante, Sr., himself a member for 44 years of local branches in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and finally Maine." The article continues, "Today the international Order is dedicated to the causes of the family, the defense of life, community service, and the Good News of the Gospel. On the occasion of the 108th Supreme Council's Annual Meeting, President George Bush praised the Knights...for their hours of hard work and compassion." The article says Bush called them "truly one of our shining stars" and then closes by saying, "The Boothbay region can now add this 'shining star' to its harbor lights."

Also in May of 1990 the Social Justice and Peace Committee at Our Lady Queen of Peace compiled the first ever Directory of Services for the Elder Citizens, the Disabled and Handicapped. In this age of computers and searches on the Internet one forgets how comforting a small booklet in your hand can be. Not just names and numbers but a summary of what each contact could be expected to deliver made this little book a local must have. The last copy was donated to the OLQP archives by Bill English in 2011 with the note that others soon copied the effort, with the State of Maine finally issuing a guide to the entire state.

The Decembers of the early 1990s still had the Live Nativity being staged outdoors, no matter the temperature. Live animals remained a part of the service until some "wise man" decided the caroling would be more appealing inside the church, even though it wasn't heated.

 

 

The spirit of Father Chouinard's love of music must have been the answer to a September 1991 Boothbay Register headline: "Why did the Russians pick Boothbay Harbor?" Although the article says the church was never blessed with the real answer, perhaps in the serendipity of it all no one thought to ask.

It was in the last week of August in 1991 that Our Lady was contacted by the nine member Russian Orthodox choir Eterna Muziko from St. Catherine Russian Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg, Russia. The choir had been at the Russian Orthodox community in Ellsworth. In the Register article, Vivienne Daniels ponders the "mystery regarding the reason Eterna Musica (sic) felt drawn to Boothbay Harbor, when they could have contacted 144 other parishes in Maine to offer their gift of religious music. In my heart," she continues, "I will always believe that this wonderful gesture of peace and friendship was a gift from our Blessed Mother, whose image as the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima visited our parish just one week before we received the telephone call from Ellsworth from the Russians." The choir performed a special concert on Sunday afternoon after they had raised their special voices during the weekend Masses in exchange for harbor hospitality.

To make the weekend even more meaningful, it was only days after the August coup in Russia which signaled the fall of the Communist government. The emotion filled celebration of friendship and music would bond the Our Lady choir and Eterna Muziko and make a reunion possible in 1993.

 

Father Chouinard completed his assignment at Our Lady in 1993 and the last of the resident pastors, Father Royal J. Parent moved in. It was Father Parent who stood for a photo with Our Lady's choir as the members prepared for a trip to tape "'The Sunday Mass' on WWOR-TV in New York" with Eterna Muziko, all of whom had emigrated to America and were living in New York.

Vivienne recalls the details of the adventure in an article she wrote for the Boothbay Register. After being surprised by seeing her former New Jersey pastor presiding at a TV Mass, she called him to share her discovery. While they were talking, Vivienne asked if the TV Mass "ever considered having a choir from out of state" and she was directed to the coordinator. "Delighted to learn that this sturdy group would be willing to travel from such a distance in the deepest of winter," writes Daniels, the coordinator skipped a long list of other choirs on the waiting list and scheduled Our Lady's group for January 29th. Vivienne called Eterna Muziko for the reunion performance and the article anticipates an exciting time together. "This small choir from Our Lady Queen of Peace in Boothbay Harbor typifies the dedication, enthusiasm and friendliness which has been a hallmark of this Parish since its founding almost 70 years ago," concludes the article, "and which warms and inspires the hearts of year round residents and summer visitors alike."

Father Parent was charmed by the locals and those from away, too. Jean Thompson remembers Father Parent as a “sort of folksy pastor” in notes from April of 2011. She writes that Father Parent wanted to take down the rectory and build a new one. In lieu of getting a new rectory, energy was turned to refurbishing the upper sanctuary, the pews being “removed, refinished and reinstalled making the upper church as it is today."

The Shadis family had made Father Parent's acquaintance in the 1970s when he was serving as the Maine CYO State Chaplain and was pastor at a French parish, St. Mary's at Eagle Lake. "The kids loved him," remembers Ray Shadis. "They called him 'Royal J. Pudding." The Splaine family tell stories of Father's silly jokes and his love of cards.

As an aside, Jean wrote that “All of our pastors up to and including Father Parent had pets: Fr. O’Toole – Chows; Fr. Manette – Irish setters; Father Lee – black cat; Father Chouinard – canaries.” Father Parent owned a Samoyed named Christmas. The pet earned her own coverage in The Church World September 15, 1994, article by Henry Gosselin about Father Parent and Our Lady Queen of Peace.

About the dog, the article says, “Several bus tours include a visit to the Catholic church and – surprisingly – one of the main attractions is Christmas. ‘If the dog is not outdoors when the bus arrives, the passengers ring the doorbell and ask to see her,’ says her master.” The article continues, “The animal understands English and French commands and even one word in German….’I wonder if another priest in Maine has a bilingual dog,’ Father Parent chuckles. ‘She can even say I love you. Of course it takes a little clairvoyance to decipher the words when one is not used to hearing her speak. To me, the words are very clear.’” As the article continues, the writer adds this closing sentence: “To the untrained ear, it sounds like a dog barking.”

This same article captures the Father Parent spirit:
A love of the summer visitors – “The summer people are so lively. So cosmopolitan. They come from all over the world….When a lay person come to me bringing greetings from the Church in a foreign country, it serves as a reminder that our church is functioning all over the world.”

The surprise of 1000 Motorcycles – Stoney’s Lobster Run connected Our Lady Queen of Peace with St. John in Brunswick long before the two churches were part of All Saints Parish . John H. “Stoney” Dionne put together Stoney’s Lobster Run as a fund raiser for Maine Children’s Cancer Programs in the early 1980s. The Dionnes have been St. John the Baptist members forever. Stoney went to school there and served as an altar boy. Part of the Stoney’s Run journey is a stop at a restaurant across the street from Our Lady and for a few hours that day, hundreds of cyclists rest on the church lawn, in the parking lot and along the streets in the area. Returning by boat on the Run’s afternoon, Father Parents was greeted with, “How about blessing the motorcycles?” As already noted, the annual blessing of the fishing fleet had been established by a previous pastor at Our Lady, so why not a blessing of these motorcycles? ”The motorcycles are a means of transportation, too,” Father Parent was reminded and he complied with an unofficial blessing.

Perhaps Jean Thompson’s “folksy” moniker can be best experienced with other tidbits from this Church World article. Father Parent seems anxious to share the stage in the interview and reveals a particular appreciation of his parishioners:
*About his housekeeper, Jane Harnedy – She “is a talented artist whose paintings are often featured in shows around the state…"
*About Jane’s husband, Jim – “The Vision 2000 report which he authored was one of the finest reports the Diocesan office received.”
*About Grace Rowe – “We also have a very caring person who ministers to shut ins….She made arrangements for Father Lubey of Washington to conduct a healing liturgy on the feast of the Assumption.”
*About Ed Donohoe – He “is a whiz at computers. He handles the publication of our parish bulletin and is helpful in many ways.”
*About Vivienne Daniels – “She is clever in making (the organ) sound like an entire orchestra through the use of tapes which she accompanies on the organ…Vivienne is one of several gifted parishioners.”

The Church World article concludes: “As he gazes at the busy harbor from his living room window – watching sailboats and cabin cruisers vying with lobster boats, ferries and draggers – the pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace smiles: ‘I didn’t ask for this assignment – but I’m truly happy here!’”

Jimmy Dean of pork sausage fame and his wife, Donna, also loved being here. As his boat came and went in the harbor, he let it be known he was one of those people who missed the chimes that had been silenced in the 1970s. Matching contributions from parishioners and friends of Our Lady Queen of Peace, the Deans provided a grant that restored the sound of chimes, marking the passing of prayer times ring again in the harbor.

Father Parent left Our Lady in the Catholic Church’s Jubilee year of 2000, marking the end of permanent priestly residence here and welcoming the challenges of a new era of sharing. Since Father Parent’s departure, the rectory has served as the church office, a holiday gathering space and a guest house for visiting religious.

Photo Credits this section:
Knights of Columbus Charter Collage - Powis
Social Justice and Peace Booklet from Bill English - OLQP Archives
Live Nativity - 2 images from OLQP Archives LN
Chouinard/Group from Church World Clipping - Barbara Fossett Private Collection, Photo by Arnold Cowley
"Why Did the Russians Pick Boothbay Harbor" Church World clipping - Barbara Fossett Private Collection, Photo by Arnold Cowley
Choir to New York Boothbay Register Clipping - Barbara Fossett Private Collection, Photo by John Edwards
Upper Sanctuary from the altar - All Saints Collection by Fr. William Dinga
Church World Article and Pictures - OLQP Archives, Henry Gosselin author and photographer
Father Parent with Brig General Richard Harrison
Father Parent with Harbor as backdrop
Father Parent Blessing Motorcycles
Grace Rowe and Father Lubey - Rowe Family Private Collection
Jimmy Dean Plaque - Powis
Rectory Open House - Winter Newsletter for Summer People Archives

 

THE NEW MILLENNIUM
Father Raymond Picard, who made his home at St. Patrick in Newcastle, was named administrator at Our Lady in 2000. Balancing the responsibilities of two churches, Father Ray welcomed the assistance of visiting priests and increased lay activities. Summer “Liturgy of the Word for Children” welcomed returning summer youngsters and the Lombardo family took the reins of a combined Our Lady/St. Patrick RCIA program. In response to requirements set by “Protecting God’s Children,” Martha Barrett and Steve Malcom replaced doors and added windows to meeting rooms in the parish hall.

 

 

For several years, Easter meant experimenting under Diane Howe's direction with pisanky - Ukrainian wax- resist egg decorating. Advent brought families together in the parish hall to build Advent wreaths. Valentine's Day celebrated sweethearts of all ages, and the chance to be "Irish" around St. Patrick's Day gathered the faithful for an Irish breakfast and storytelling.

In a post 9/11 world, Our Lady Queen of Peace celebrated her 75th anniversary much in the same way she began her life on the peninsula – with a shared priest and a small group of local Catholics who loved their faith enough to worship and play, forgive and pray, even under the most difficult circumstances. For the anniversary Mass, Wilma Tatlock collected symbolic gifts for the altar - pieces that reflected the community in and beyond Our Lady's walls. Photographer Robert Mitchell was engaged to capture the events of the celebration.

 

Empty nesters enjoyed evenings coordinated by Roger and Wanda Nolin who shepherded a monthly gathering of the “Family Group” inspired by the international program developed by Passionist Father Peter McGrath of Australia.

A hunger for better communication with summer parishioners during the winter months was fed by the production and distribution of a “Winter Newsletter for Summer People.” Features in the newsletter included a letter from Father Picard and/or the president of the parish council and lots of pictures of church activities and faces. Its pages are the source for many of the images in this decade's history.

Joan Gray championed the idea of a church library and called together a committee that organized the space, searched catalogs for building the collection, and even hosted library luncheons as fund raisers. A continuing call for library print and financial donations spurred the creation of a Readers Group that focused on building the library’s offerings with selections that have inspired the Catholic faith over the centuries, volumes written by “traditionally” Catholic writers, and books being discussed in the contemporary Catholic setting of the time. These donations can still be found in the library complete with discussion notes and signatures of those who read, discussed and donated the books. Discussions were often spirited as people in the group came from both Opus Dei and Dorothy Day inclinations, united in their love of Catholicism.

Jane Cowley must have been the one inspired to open the still popular church store -- no one remembers anyone but her at the helm in the beginning. Pictured here on the far right with Wanda Nolin and Chris Splaine, she is holding the perennial favorite Our Lady Queen of Peace cookbook as Wanda offers that OLQP ornament "only available in the Our Lady Queen of Peace Store after Mass."

Tony Squillante and Tom Fogarty welcomed a new backdrop and banners for the annual lighted Nativity on the church's front steps. The statues found a home at Our Lady in Father Chouinard's day, according to Squillante, one of the founding members of the Knights of Columbus here. As the story goes, Tony and Father Chouinard were traveling north on Back River Road when Father spotted a large nativity scene "in the Oakes' front yard." He made Tony stop the car so he could find out where such a display could be found and when "Sears" was the answer, Father bought a set for the church. Although Tony has passed, the installation of the nativity is still a Knights activity with Tom Fogarty always to be found in the lead. Like many places in the Boothbay Harbor environs, the artwork of Jim Taliana made us look again at something we thought was familiar. His backdrop and banners -- Faith, Peace, Love - hugged our beloved Nativity characters with a new found appreciation.

In memory of a beloved parishioner whose family has been at the center of Our Lady’s stories from the very beginning, Marie Pearce Higgins (1925-2005), a significant financial gift was given specifically for the purpose of returning the tabernacle in the chapel to "front and center." Marie had been very active in her last year – the Year of the Eucharist – in a relentless effort to get Our Lady's tabernacle’s placement some attention. She encouraged an approach to the parish council with collected newspaper clippings addressing the tabernacle placement in chapels and sanctuaries around the country. She wrote letters to anyone who would listen. As we all know, tabernacles everywhere had been moved in response to Vatican II interpretations. A clipping from The National Catholic Register attached to a letter to “All parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Peace (undated) in the Our Lady archives was Marie’s call to action. It begins: "Albert Mora said his midtown Manhattan parish was transformed after Father George Rutler became its pastor – but not because the priest is renowned as an eloquent speaker. The transformation came from a simple change: The tabernacle was returned to the center of the church.”

The memorial gift made, plans began. Bob Splaine took on the task of a new design for the tabernacle’s new placement and Steve Malcom’s company, The Knickerbocker Group, did the actual installation. With every season the Splaines can be found making the necessary changes on the altar to reflect the celebrants’ visions of the liturgical seasons and moods.

Father Picard was reassigned in 2005 and Father Alfred Irving came to lead the flock as administrator. In 2009, Our Lady found a new family as one of the churches in All Saints Parish. Now being one of seven "children," Our Lady bought into the new parish motto: We believe and we share. Many of the activities and responsibilities that had been local were melded into the new paradigm. More information on All Saints Parish can be found on the HOMEPAGE.

The Boothbay peninsula as a whole is a caring and interesting gathering of people. Laughingly one will say that we may not like you very much, but if you or your family are in need we will certainly step up to help you out. The annual set up of the church's collection of SANTONS is a metaphor for all the various walks of life that pass through and by Our Lady's doors. The collection was an anonymous donation and Jim Taliana's creativity manifested itself again, giving the beautiful little figurines a noble home. Santons are a French tradition - little statues of people outside of the time of the Nativity who - like us - are showing that Jesus comes through how we live our lives. They make up an extended Nativity scene, inspiring stories and catechesis for everyone.

And "everyone" benefits from the social justice and peace efforts that flourish around the harbor. Tom and Elaine Fogarty energize the Catholic piece of those efforts on the Our Lady campus. The beginning of the new millennium's second decade finds them organizing a free Christmas dinner each year. In addition to a great meal, the Christmas dinner is a way to address that "being alone" on any holiday should be a choice, not a result of loneliness. Our local, life-size "santons" make their way to Our Lady's table and all are invited. Similarly, every Monday lunch is Our Lady’s Warm Space offering – a warm lunch and warm fellowship year-round. The Fogarty’s are able to turn donations of food and the willingness of a group of cooking and serving volunteers into wholesome meals and special hospitality. They even offer to pick up anyone who needs a ride.

Photo Credits this section:
Father Picard - WNSP Archives
Visiting Priests - from WNSP December YEAR
Pisanky, Advent Wreaths, Valentines, St. Patrick Breakfast - WNSP Various
75th Anniversary Sanctuary - OLQP Archives, Robert Mitchell, Photographer
75th Anniversary Altar - WNSP MONTH YEAR
Family Group - WNSP Various
Winter Newsletter for Summer People Collection - WNSP Archives
Lee and Joan Gray - WNSP Archives
Store Ladies: Wanda Nolin, Chris Splaine, Jane Cowley - WNSP Archives
Updated Nativity - WNSP January 2004
Marie Higgins and brother, Archbishop George Pearce - WNSP Archives
Chapel, Tabernacle Moved - All Saints Parish Collection, Father William Dinga, Photographer
Santons - OLQP Archives

VOCATIONS
An Archbishop, Minister General, Diocesan Priest & Seminarian Pearce, Higgins, Daniels, Cartwright


Our Lady isn't sure how many churches can claim such an august group of vocations. This final part of Our Lady's history is dedicated to religious calling, hearkening back to where it all began with the "spirit of the place."

The Seminarian

Come to the water...says Isaiah. For Steve Cartwright coming to the water has always been a part of his life.

Born at St. Andrews Hospital on the water in Boothbay Harbor, June 18, 1979, Steve began life with a congenital disorder that caused breathing problems. At the age of five the condition required removal of the lower lobe of his left lung and pulmonary therapy for the next five years. Remarkable that by the age of ten Steve had become a renowned competitive swimmer, attracting attention from coaches all around the state. By high school he held six Maine United States Swimming Records and had been listed in Who's Who In High School Sports for four consecutive years. A February 27, 1997 article in The Boothbay Register written by Kevin Burnham filled a full page with a look at the seventeen year old's accomplishments to date. The article is entitled "Steve Cartwright: A Decade of Drive In Pursuit Of Excellence."

 

Steve's parents, Lynn and Bob Cartwright, told the paper about Steve's first passion -- for God. The article says:

At age seven, Steve would drape his blanket over his shoulders, stand behind a TV table -- his altar -- and play "priest" saying Mass to a congregation of stuffed animals. When he turned nine he surprised his father on Father's Day with the announcement that he was now an altar boy.... He turned the [house] attic into a church, which he named Our Lady of the Rosary....Father Marcel was his "Bishop" and would occasionally inspect his church to make sure everything was up to par....Steve says his calling to the priesthood came when he was 10. His parents concur...."He definitely got the call. In junior high, he wanted to go to a pre-seminarian high school but we told him that he should live life and grow a little more and that the seminary would always be there for him," said Lynn.

Her comments were prophetic. Steve attended Boothbay Region High School and John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor to swim under the leadership of a well-known coach. He attended St. John's University in Jamaica, NY under a full scholarship awarded for his swimming and, with an eye on the priesthood, continued his education at St. Bonaventure University and Catholic University of America. Steve graduated in 2001 with a degree in philosophy intending to continue to study for the Diocese of Portland, Maine at CUA and Theological College. However, it wasn't until 2010 that Steve returned to the seminary, this time at St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia under the auspices of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina.

A most successful career as Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Head Coach at Georgetown University had happened in those intervening years. "During Cartwright's tenure at Georgetown," the press release announcing his Georgetown resignation says, "the Hoyas experienced tremendous success both in the pool and in the classroom. Since his arrival on the Hilltop, 34 school records have been broken and more than 50 percent of the times listed in the all-time top 10 list were recorded. The Collegiate Swimming Association of America has awarded academic All-American honors to team members for 36 consecutive semesters."

Returning to the 1997 Boothbay Register story, Steve, then 17 years old, was planning his future as a priest. "I do want to come back to Maine to work," he said.

On the morning of June 13, in front of a large, proud and faith-filled gathering of family and friends, Cartwright was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Robert P. Deeley at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. "God has led you here; He has created you for this moment," the bishop told Cartwright. "Your ordination is the culmination of several years of careful discernment, some side trips when, one might say, you were swimming outside the priestly lane, much fervent prayer, hard work, and, of course, the generous outpouring of God's grace that brings you to this day with an open heart and a security that Jesus has guided this journey."

A day after his ordination on June14,  Father Cartwright's Mass of Thanksgiving was held on at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church -  the church where he was baptized ("Right there," Cartwright said, pointing to the floor in front of the altar) and made his first Communion and served on the altar at the ordination of Father Joe Daniels ("Right there," he repeated.). "This is home," Cartwright said, gesturing to indicate the OLQP sanctuary. He looked very much at home on the altar.

During the Mass, Father Cartwright also recognized some of the special people in his life who fostered and furthered his vocation, including the family with whom he lived after moving from Boothbay Harbor to Bangor to join a swim club during high school.

"They always made sure I went to Mass on Sunday. They always made sure my faith life was vibrant," he said.

He presented the family with the altar cross used during the Mass.

Father Cartwright also paid tribute to his father, who passed away in 2008, saying he was a great man and role model.

"I was ordained to the diaconate on Father's Day. I was ordained to the priesthood on his birthday. Tell me he doesn't have something to do with this," he said.

And most especially, he thanked his mother, who sat in the front row during the Mass.  He said that, during his childhood, she supported his vocation by making vestments for him and providing him NECCO Wafers when he was "playing Mass" at home, and later, during a time when he had pushed his faith aside, she continued to pray that he would come back to the Lord.

"You never stopped praying, and you never stopped reminding me of His presence in my life," he told her, fighting back tears.

 

Bishop Deeley assigned Father Cartwright, effective July 1, 2015, to serve as parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Parish (Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Lewiston; Holy Cross Church, Lewiston; Holy Family Church, Lewiston).

 

The Diocesan Priest

When Father Joseph Daniels was assigned to the Waterville area in 2010, an article in the community's paper, The Morning Sentinel, noted his "booming, deep voice during Mass, especially when he sings." Father Joe's mother, Vivienne Daniels, said he sang before he talked - "Winchester Cathedral" in fact, when he was two years old.

The Daniels family made their year-round home in Boothbay Harbor in 1988, a place Father Joe had first visited at the age of 1 in 1964. His Ordination and first Mass both took place at Our Lady Queen of Peace in 1990. The journey between 1964 and 1990 is summed up in The Morning Sentinel article: "Originally from New Jersey, Daniels said his formative years were in Scotch Plains, NJ where he was a member of St. Bartholomew the Apostle Parish and graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School."

Father Joe and his family were summer people before settling here. Joe Daniels was a Charter Member of Lincoln Arts as a high school student and along with his brothers worked for the McCarthy's at Smugglers' Cove during their summers. The relationship with the McCarthy's fueled Father Joe's vocation educationally, financially and socially.

Entering college interested in political science, he graduated college deciding to become a priest. "It seemed my life had been building to that point and that commitment." Father Joe says a close cousin, Andrew Jensen, was a priest and from childhood through adolescence was a great role model.

Father Joe's education took him to “Saint Joseph University in Philadelphia, receiving both his college and major seminary formation at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ where he received a bachelor's degree in history in 1985 and a master of divinity in pastoral ministry in 1990." Father Daniels' first pastoral experience with the Diocese of Portland came in 1987 at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston when as a seminarian he was a pastoral intern there. After being accepted as a seminarian by the Diocese of Portland, Father Joe served a pastoral internship in Houlton, was ordained to the diaconate in January of 1990 and, as previously mentioned, ordained a priest at OLQP that very same year - on August 23rd. It was a special day for everyone on the peninsula. "Everyone had watched him grow up," said his mother. "We had been summer residents since he was a baby and before his Ordination, the two florists in town called and asked about the appropriate colors for the event. When the time came, every lamp post and power pole had blue and gold balloons on them."

The McCarthy's turned Smugglers' Cove into the Ordination weekend hospitality center and members of Lincoln Arts and Southport Methodist Church hosted the reception in Our Lady's hall after Joe's first Mass. With a very proud smile his mom adds, "Everyone was excited for him. Everybody on the peninsula was excited to have an ordination here."

Father Joe graduated from Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge MA with an advanced graduate degree in Sacred Theology in 2003 while pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Bridgton, ME. He was assigned as Parochial Vicar of Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston in 2008, as Pastor of Christ the King Parish in 2010, and Pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in 2010. Since May of 2011 Father has served as the Vicar Forane (a priest with supervisory duties over a number of parishes) for Eastern Cumberland, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Eastern Somerset, and Waldo Counties. "Sounds like a storm warning for the Boothbay peninsula," said a reader noting the latest geography on Father Joe's resume. His days must often seem as unpredictable as the weather.

With the new parish paradigm, priests are expected to multi-task even beyond geographical borders. In addition to his parish duties, Father Joe is a facilitator in the program providing academic formation for permanent diaconate candidates and other diocesan master's degree students, and is a full member of the Society of Christian Ethics which means an annual meeting trip outside of Maine. When he travels, his conveyance of choice would be a train. "The whole family loves trains and train travel," shares his mother. "It's so relaxing….gives us a chance to talk."

In August of 2014 Father Joe was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Farmington and St. Rose of Lima Parish in Jay, and in January of 2015 Bishop Robert Deely added the duties of interim director of the Diaconate for the diocese of Portland to his responsibilities.

On a personal note, Father Joe has always been attached to dogs. "I found it remarkable in recent years," said Father Joe in the Morning Sentinel article, "[that] if you are a priest and a dog owner, how many people that connects you to." His most recent buddy is a recued Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Literature about the breed says Duck Tollers are working animals and are happiest when they have a job to do.

Sounds like a match made in heaven - no pun intended.

 

The Minister General
Franciscan Friar of the Third Order Regular

"We are who we are before God and nothing else" reads the quote from St. Francis of Assisi on the ordination prayer card belonging to Michael J. Higgins, TOR. Michael's mother, Marie Pearce Higgins, always told the story of wanting one of her five boys to have a religious calling and how her mother had identified which of her children would hear the call. Father Michael remembers it this way:

Mom told me that the story originated when she was talking to her mother, my Grandma Pearce, when my brother Richard and I were in our early teens. When she told my Grandma that she hoped that one of us would become a priest or religious my Grandma replied, "Well, choose the one who is least likely to become one. That's what I did with George." My mother laughed and said, "Michael?" --- and they both laughed. Since you are also writing about George this may fit into your work. Apparently George had a reputation for being the practical joker or prankster in the family.

And according to Marie's additional stories, young Michael could also boast a prankster/jokester reputation. God works in mysterious ways. Of course. "George" became an archbishop; Michael a Minister General.

Michael was born in 1951 in Boston. His father was career Navy so Michael claims cities in Massachusetts, Virginia, California, Georgia and even Naples, Italy, as places where he "grew up," but his middle school and high school years were spent in Framingham, Massachusetts. For a young boy, he had seen a lot of this country and the world. He entered the U.S. Army shortly after his high school graduation and served in Viet Nam in the early 70s. "As you can see," he writes, " I celebrated my 20th birthday in Viet Nam."

"My first recollection of visiting Boothbay Harbor," he says, " was when my Dad was transferred from Georgia to Massachusetts in 1958." Michael would have been seven years old. "At that time we started a family tradition (or ritual) of spending at least a couple weeks of vacation at "Gram's House" on Spruce Point. Most of the time this meant that we all (my parents and five boys) stayed in the 'Little House' - or 'The Shack,' as we called it."

When Michael's dad, Dick Higgins, retired from the Navy in 1972 from his last assignment at Brunswick Naval Air Station, the family completed a house on Pinkham Cove Road and Michael's mom and dad and three younger brothers moved to Boothbay Harbor full time. Although Michael had been on his own since 1969, he never lived in Maine year-round, but because his parents had finally settled here he considered Boothbay Harbor "home."

Father Michael received his BA in Psychology(1977) from Framingham State College, a Master of Divinity from University of Toronto: St. Michael's College (1983), a Master of Sacred Theology from University of Toronto: Regis College (1984), a Master of Arts in Formative Spirituality from Duquesne University (1987), a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Pontifico Ateneo Antonianum in Rome, Italy (1999) and a Ph.D in Higher Education Administration from Capella University, in Minneapolis, Minnesota (2007).

Other life passages are noted in Father Michael's "Religious History" on his Curriculum Vitae which reads:
Novitiate June 1979-June 1980
Profession of Simple Vows June 15, 1980
Profession of Solemn Vows June 8, 1984
Ordination to the Deaconate October 27, 1984
Ordination to the Priesthood June 1, 1985

Two facts not on this list are
1. The ordaining bishop when Father Michael was ordained was his uncle, Archbishop George Pearce, and,
2. Father Michael's first Mass was celebrated on June 8, 1985, at Our Lady Queen of Peace. "So after I was ordained by my Uncle George in 1985 it seemed natural to celebrate my 'First Mass' at my 'hometown church' of Our Lady Queen of Peace," he writes. Since his Ordination and that "First Mass," Father Michael's vocation has given him opportunities to study and learn, lead and teach, listen and guide all over the world. In 2006 he was elected to the post of Minister General of the Third Order Regular Franciscans by the friars in the order, the top position in the TOR hierarchy. He completed his term in May of 2013.  Part of his heart and history are always in Boothbay Harbor and, over the years, he has offered Franciscans to help lead our worship. His own homilies are fresh and full of encouragement for the continual conversion so readily practiced by the TOR.

Father Michael's life and experiences bring special insights to his prayer. His visits "home" and his homilies bring back to Our Lady Dick and Marie's son, Donald's brother, Julie's uncle, Janet's cousin, the genuine friend, that guy who worked on Cabbage Island, and the priest - who Michael is "before God and nothing else."

March 2016 update on Father Michael -- Click to view

The Archbishop

S.M. - the Society of Mary - The Marist Fathers

The Most Reverend George H. Pearce, S.M., D.D was a youngster when he first came to Boothbay Harbor with his parents. His artist aunt had been the first in the family to discover this paradise while visiting one of the artist colonies. She soon summoned the family to join her. Born in 1921, his tales of running under the church when it was being finished and the stories of his mother's organ playing for Masses and for movies in the 'big box" next door have given us a first-hand experience of life at Our Lady in the 1920s and 30s. He continued to visit the peninsula as long as his health allowed, always making home visits and saying Mass.

Archbishop Pearce was born in Boston. He was educated at St. Columbkille Elementary School in Brighton, MA, and studied for the priesthood at Maryvale Preparatory Seminary in Bedford, MA and at Marist College and Seminary in Framingham, MA. He was ordained to the Priesthood by Archbishop Cushing in 1947, and was ordained a bishop in 1956. He became the first Bishop of Apia (Samoa) in 1966, was named Archbishop of Suva (Fiji) in 1967. He also served as Interim Administrator of the Diocese of Agana (Guam) for six months in 1969. He retired as Archbishop of Suva in 1976 and moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he led a Marian prayer group and assisted the Archbishop of Providence until he moved into a home. He was a council Father for the Second Vatican Council.

Archbishop Pearce's stories, along with those shared in concert with his sister Marie Pearce Higgins, are the heart of Our Lady's early years research. His recounting of the pogey factories, visiting priests saying Masses in homes, his own family finding a place to build first on Mt. Pisgah and then on the water near Spruce Point, coming to the harbor on big paddlewheels, the art community, Father Sullivan's relentless collections, Mrs. Sackabasian's ear-popping soprano - in short, the "spirit of the place." Before his health curtailed his visits, he would have been the first to introduce you to the Land Trust trails, visiting at least one every day for a walk and prayer. To accompany him on a visit to the sick was to know the presence of the Lord in the bringing. He always embodied a very special joy that might have been captured best during one homily's reflection on Philippians 4:4. After comments about the scripture Archbishop George held up four fingers on each hand, thumbs folded over the palms. "It's so easy to remember," he said, his fingers moving up and down like they were scratching the air. "Philippians 4:4" he repeated with the biggest smile and a chuckle. "It's so easy." The passage reads, "Rejoice always. I say, rejoice."

The memories of Our Lady Queen of Peace in this history began with and now end with the stories of Archbishop George Pearce. Our Lady Queen of Peace collects new stories every day, welcoming all persons as they add their name and love and dedication to the works of her prayer.

Photo Credits this section:
Seminarian Steven Cartwright - Official Photo
Cartwright Story, Boothbay Register February 27, 1997
Cartwright as an Altar Boy - Cartwright Private Collection
Rev. Joe Daniels - Official Photo
Images from Father Daniel's Ordination - Daniels Private Collection
Father Michael Higgins, TOR - Official Photo
Higgins Ordination Prayer Card - WNSP Archives
Archbishop George Pearce, S.M., DD - Official Photo

 

Priests Assigned to Our Lady Queen of Peace

  Mission Years  
    Rev. Dennis McCabe  
  In Residence  
1928-1933   Rev. John J. Sullivan, Pastor  
1933-1949   Rev. C. Martin O'Toole, Pastor  
1949-1971   Rev. Francis A. Manette, Pastor  
1971-1985   Rev. Thomas M. Lee, Pastor  
1985-1993   Rev. Marcel G. Chouinard, Pastor  
1993-2000   Rev. Royal J. Parent, Pastor  
  Shared Leadership  
2000-2005   Rev. Raymond Picard, Administrator  
2005-2009   Rev. Fred Irving  
  All Saints Parish: 2009-Present  
    Rev. Frank Murray, Pastor  
    Rev. Fred Morse, Parochial Vicar  
    Rev. Normand Carpentier, Parochial Vicar  

Page Updated November 2012