St. John the Baptist Church History

St. John the Baptist Church History

At its best, history is a living reality. The history of Saint John the Baptist Parish is a very interesting one because it, too, is a living history. It makes captivating reading. It is the history of a parish which had real growing pains, serious problems of adjusting to changing times and social situations. Any community of persons that can look back on more than 100 years of history - and you realize that in 1977 we celebrated the centennial anniversary of our parish - can expect to look back on a span of ups and downs, achievements and setbacks, successes and failures. That’s what real human history is all about.

In their very early history, the Catholics of Brunswick were served by priests from Augusta and Whitfield. In 1855 Brunswick became a mission of Bath and in that period Father Peter McLaughlin came to say Mass once a month in the home of John Dolan on Elm Street. Religious services were later held in a hall at the Varney mill. A former Protestant church was bought in 1866 and Mass was said there until 1883.
The French-Canadians of Brunswick expressed a desire for a French Canadian priest to serve them as pastor. In 1877 the Rev. J.H. Noieux was assigned to Brunswick as its first resident Catholic pastor and the old Protestant church was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Saint John the Baptist parish was born on January 1, 1877.

Father Noiseux was succeeded by Rev. James Gorman who served Saint John’s for twelve years and brought a new church to Brunswick. The new church was solemnly blessed by Bishop James Healy of Portland on the feast of Saint John the Baptist, July 24, 1886. Father M. Sekenger followed Father Gorman and served the parish for nineteen years.
It was at this stage in the history of the parish that Bishop Walsh entrusted the care of the parish to the Marist Fathers. Father Theophile Remy, S. M. was the first Marist pastor of Saint John’s and Father Alfred St. Martin came with him as the first Marist curate. Father Remy arrived on the 14th of August in 1911. Less than a year later, on April 12, 1912, Saint John’s church was destroyed by fire.

People and priests showed their mettle by building bigger and better on the ashes of the old. The solemn blessing of the new church on February 27, 1927 in the pastorship of Father Etienne Vinas, S. M. represented the crowning point of fifty years of history for Saint John the Baptist parish.

The ensuing fifty years of history have reflected the process of growth and change that have marked the development of the Church in the periods now labeled as pre-Vatican II, Vatican II, and post-Vatican II. Under the leadership of Fathers Chambard, Andre, Dauphin, Carteron, Soucy, Cote, Brunelle, and Hall our parish has kept pace with the developments in the Church at large and in the diocese of Portland. There are very few people today who would risk predicting the future beyond a very few years, but a close reading of history can give confidence about moving into the future. The evident ability of the people of Saint John’s to live out their community history through quite radical changes in country and church argues well enough for their capacity to move into the second century of their history with the confidence of being guided and sustained as a part of the People of God on their pilgrimage to His Kingdom.

Written by Rev. Emile Guilmette, S. M., Pastor of Saint John the Baptist, January, 1973

In 2005 Bishop Richard J. Malone's Pastoral Letter "Telling Anew the Story of Jesus Christ set the stage for the former parishes of Cluster 15 to plan a new future together. After much work, communication, compromise, and planning the historical day of July 1, 2009 happened. More than 200 years of parish histories came together. On this date, St. John the Baptist Parish became part of the new All Saints Parish comprised of St. John the Baptist Church, St. Mary Church, St.Charles Church, St. Ambrose Church, St. Patrick Church, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, and St. Katharine Drexel Summer Chapel.