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HISTORY OF ST. LUKE'S PARISH
(Information researched by Henry A. Raymond and is still in process. Much of the early history was taken from an account written by Father Donald C. Kelly found in an old newspaper - You will note as you look at many of the photos, that they come from newspapers, as these were the only ones I could acquire. Please E-Mail me email@example.com if you have any photos, articles or information that you feel would be pertinent to this History of St. Luke's Parish)
Click here to view St. Luke's Church as it appeared in 1953
Click here to view the interior of St. Luke's Church as it appeared prior to 1948
ST. LUKE CHURCH
St. Luke Roman Catholic Church was originally known as the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. Why or just when the name was later changed is not clear. The parish is centered in a typical Vermont village where farming in the early 60's was the chief occupation. Since that time, much of the farmland has either been combined with larger farms or made into building lots for homes of residents who are employed in surrounding towns and cities. No accurate records were kept in the beginning, so we must rely on the memory of several of the older members of the parish for our information as well as information researched in the Fairfax Town Records and researching through old newspapers.
Click here for a photo of Bishop Degoesbriand
In the year 1865 the congregation or parish consisted of about twenty families. They lived in the town of Westford and along the Fletcher Road as well as in Fairfax itself. Father Magloire Pigeon was given charge of the Catholic community in Fairfax in 1868. According to his letters, Bishop Louis DeGoesbriand intended to build a church in Fairfax as soon as there were enough families to support one financially. This, however, was not the case at the time that Father Pigeon was appointed, so it is assumed that one of the homes in the village was used for the saying of Mass for the Catholic members of the community.
A Burlington Free Press article dated November 19, 1870 stated that "A new Catholic Church is in the course of erection in Fairfax near the covered bridge. The frame is up and boarded." The Beers Atlas of 1871 shows the Roman Catholic Church to be located on what was then known as South Street, not far from the Lamoille River. The book entitled "Successful Vermonters by William H. Jeffrey" and published in 1907 stated that the Roman Catholic Church Building was constructed in 1872 under the direction of Father Magloire Pigeon. An article dated May 22, 1872, in the St. Albans Messenger stated that "operations are about to recommence on the partially built Catholic Church in Fairfax. Among other things it is to be raised up some four or five feet higher as its present location is thought to be to low." On November 6, 1872, the St. Albans Messenger also stated that Tuffield Provo had a leg broken in consequence from a fall from a staging upon the Catholic Church, on which he was at work.
Meanwhile, about 1872, the Oblate Fathers (later known as the Society of St. Edmund) gave a Mission to about 60 people, and at its conclusion, Bishop DeGoesbriand conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on a class of twelve including four adults. Things stayed this way for several years, but the Catholic population in Fairfax was growing steadily for those years until, on September 27, 1876, Bishop Louis DeGoesbriand for the sum of two hundred ($200) dollars, purchased the property, with the church building on it, from Orion W. Butler, who lived in Stowe and Ezra S. Butler, who lived in Fairfax. The deed specifically stated, "on which the Roman Catholic Church now stands". I have been unable to find anything in the Fairfax Town Records that shows exactly when the church was constructed or why it was constructed on land belonging to someone else. The church seated about 100 people and was placed under the patronage of St. Mary Magdalene.
MISSION PRIEST RODE THE CIRCUIT SAYING MASS ONCE A MONTH IN FAIRFAX
In those early days Mass was offered in Fairfax about once a month by priests living elsewhere and traveling to Fairfax for the Sunday Mass. On many Sundays, though, due to bad weather and bad roads, the priest found that he had to send word ahead that he could not come. ( The same priest was in charge of mission churches in Milton, South Hero, Alburg, and Isle LaMotte, as well as in Fairfax ).
The first recorded baptism in the new church was that of Augustine Messier, born and baptized on Christmas Day, 1878.
Father Francis Yvinec was the priest in charge until 1885, although Father Charles Prevost's name appears in the records from time to time. In 1885 and 1886, Father J. M. Coathuel took care of Fairfax while residing at the Cathedral in Burlington. On March 3, 1892, Bishop Louis DeGoesbriand purchased additional land for seven hundred ($700) dollars from Mark and Lucy Lock, which included a house and barn and was located south of the Roman Catholic Church on South Street. The Lock property is the same land now owned by Donald and Isabell Boutin in 1998. On April 18, 1896, Bishop DeGoesbriand, in consideration of ten ($10) dollars paid by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, sold both the property with the church on it and the property he had purchased from Mark and Lucy Lock to the Roman Catholic Diocese. Succeeding Father J. M. Coathuel was Father Peter Mathieu until 1895 when Father Prevost's name reappears. Priests from St. Mary's Parish in St. Albans appear in 1897 and 1898, including Father Daniel O'Sullivan and Father J. C. McLaughlin as well as Father Thomas Schaefer, in 1899 and 1900. From 1901 until 1905, the Fairfax parish was cared for by Father Theodule E. Blais.
Click here for a photo of Bishop John S. Michaud
On March 16, 1904, Bishop John S. Michaud, Agent for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, in consideration of four hundred fifty ($450) dollars, sold the property purchased from Mark & Lucy Lock in 1892 to Rollo A. Southard of Fairfax.
During these years many different people assisted at Mass in spite of great hardship, some of them traveling ten miles one way by horse and wagon or sled. There were others who had to travel many miles by foot to assist. There were other times when people arrived at church for Mass only to find that the priest had been unable to get there because of drifting snow or impassable, muddy roads. When the Pastor was unable to say Mass for the people, usually one of the older members of the congregation would lead the group in the recitation of the Rosary and other prayers.This being concluded, there would follow th customary visit among friends before the weary walk or ride back to their homes.
AS A MISSION THE CHURCH WAS ATTACHED TO VARIOUS PARENT PARISHES
The Fairfax parish has been the spiritual daughter of many mother parishes over the years. On August 17, 1893, it was attached to St. Ann's Church in Milton, when Father Peter Mathieu was named pastor there. This arrangement continued until 1897 when after the death of Father Mathieu, St. Mary's Parish in St. Albans adopted Fairfax with Father O'Sullivan visiting here once or twice each month to offer Mass.
A Burlington Free Press article dated September 24, 1904 stated, "Bishop Michaud made a parish of the two missions, St. Albans Bay and Fairfax. Rev. Robert DeVoy will have charge. He was formerly assistant at Holy Angels." For five years, Father Devoy traveled to Fairfax twice each month, a distance of 16 miles, one way. When the weather was good, he came by horse and buggy. When the weather was bad, he boarded the train in St. Albans and was met by George Rooney, who was my wife's grandfather, or another Fairfax parishioner at the East Georgia Station on Saturday afternoon and brought to Fairfax where he stayed over night at the home of George Rooney or Mrs. Mayo Despart. After Sunday Mass, he returned home to the rectory at St. Albans Bay.
Click here for a photo of Bishop Joseph J. Rice
About September 1, 1910, Father Devoy was named pastor at Sheldon Springs and was succeeded by Father Peter Boivin at St. Albans Bay and Fairfax. Father Boivin took care of Fairfax until 1918 when he was transferred to St. Teresa parish in Hyde Park. It was during the pastorate of Father Boivin that the first signs of growth were experienced in the Fairfax mission. About 1913, Father Boivin decided to enlarge the church and added the section which became the sanctuary and sacristy, increasing the seating capacity to accommodate 200 persons. The debt thus incurred was paid in full during the regime of Father J. A. Thompson who cared for Fairfax from the Cathedral in Burlington after the departure of Father Boivin from St. Albans Bay. It was previous to 1918, that the name of the church was changed from St. Mary Magdalene to St. Luke because the record books of 1918 bear the latter patron.
Although the photo below was not identified, it appears to be a photo of what later became Donald & Isabel Boutin's Store with a building to the right of it located on St. Luke Church property that may have been used as a shelter for horses by the parishioners of St. Luke while attending mass. You will notice the board fence, which for some reason was a requirement in the deed around the Church property. My thanks to Roger Boozan of Essex Junction for providing me with a copy of this photo.
Click here to see the property next to the Old St. Luke's Church back in the 1930's
WHEN PRIEST SHORTAGE BECAME ACUTE, CARE OF BOTH CHURCHES REVERTED TO BURLINGTON
St. Luke Mission was administered by Father Thompson from 1918 to 1923, when he was succeeded by Father Charles Regan who took up residence at St. Ann in Milton for a time and took care of Fairfax also. Later, because of a shortage of priests, the care of both Milton and Fairfax reverted to the Cathedral in Burlington until 1928. Both Father Regan and Father Harold Barrett administered to Catholics here during this period.
Click here for a photo of St. Luke's Church taken during the flood of 1927
In the fall of 1928, Bishop Joseph J. Rice reopened the parish in Milton and assigned Father Alfred H. Couture as pastor with Fairfax as a mission.
Click here for a photo of Father Alfred H. Couture
Father Couture began offering Sunday Mass weekly in St. Luke Church and spent many hours in religious instruction here, especially during the summer months in the 14 years of his pastorate. It fell to Father Couture to carry out the extensive repairs on the church that became necessary when the church was inundated and almost destroyed by the flood of 1927. During the flood, water from the Lamoille River filled the sanctuary to a height of nearly six feet. Toward the end of Father Couture's pastorate a 3 acre tract of land was purchased from Joseph and Cordelia St. Jock, December 17, 1940 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington on the main highway leading from Fairfax to Westford near the intersection of routes 104 and 128 and a cemetery was developed there. In 1942, William Wells, a former sexton of the church, was the first adult buried there. Steve Ratte stated that he had heard his grandfather, Joseph Ratte tell about making a wooden cross and installing it in the original cemetery. The Lavallee Family from Westford, who were long time parishioners of St. Luke, later provided the present monument located in the cemetery.
Click here for a photo of the Early Wooden Cross at St. Luke's Cemetery
Click here for a photo of the Blessing of the New Cross at St. Luke's Cemetery
Click here for a photo of Bishop Matthew F. Brady
When Bishop Matthew F. Brady became Bishop of Burlington in 1938, he began to establish new parishes and missions throughout the diocese. It was soon rumored that he was thinking of appointing a resident priest in Fairfax. During the years following World War I, more Catholic people had moved into Fairfax and surrounding territory. Most of these were French Canadians who bought farms in the rural areas outside of the villages of Fairfax and Westford. However, a shortage of priests in the diocese made the establishment of new parishes infeasible until the advent of Bishop Brady. When Father Couture went to Vergennes in 1942, he was succeeded by Father Charles Marcoux in Milton for a few months. He was soon followed by Father Edward Hebert in May 1943, as pastor of St. Ann Church in Milton.
THE DREAM WAS REALIZED IN 1943 WITH A RESIDENT PASTOR
Click here for a photo of Rev. Donald C. Kelly
On October 1, 1943, St. Luke's became a parish with a resident pastor when Bishop Matthew F. Brady appointed the Rev. Donald C. Kelly to come to Fairfax. Earlier that year the Rectory, located at 1166 Main Street (Corner of Main & Hunt Street) was purchased for the resident pastor whom parishioners hoped would soon be coming.
Click here for a photo of the original St. Luke's Rectory
With the naming of a pastor, the parishioners of St. Luke Church pledged their full cooperation and began organizing dinners, bazaars and other fundraising efforts to help defray the expense of necessary repairs to the church and the retirement of the newly-acquired debt on the rectory. A new liturgical altar was built, a new lighting system was installed as well as Stations of the Cross and a new baptismal font. The interior of the church was cleaned and painted. Furnishings for the rectory, heretofore almost entirely lacking, were purchased. Immediately after World War II, a new heating system was installed in both the church and rectory. These improvements were, for the most part done by the men and women of the parish who gave unselfishly of their time and money. Among the most skilled hands in these projects were those of Father Kelly who wielded a hammer and saw with the best of them. Exterior improvements were also made to the parish property and included painting of the church and rectory, repairs to the steeple, landscaping, and the enlargements of church parking facilities through the purchase of additional land.
It had been the hope of Bishop Brady that a new church be erected but war-time shortages, an already large debt, and a scarcity of funds forced a postponement of these plans. Meanwhile, the parish continued to grow with the advent of more French Canadian farmers following World War II, when two out of three farms sold in the area were bought by Catholics.
Click here for a photo of Father Donald Kelly when he left Fairfax
(The following information on Father Donald C. Kelly was taken from Father Philip J. Branon's Parish Bulletin of St. Rose of Lima Parish in South Hero, Vermont dated February 24, 1991)
Father Kelly, who retired in 1982 passed away February 19, 1991 in Rutland, Vermont. He had been living there for several years with his twin sister after having retired from his pastorate in Proctor, Vermont. Father Kelly was a native of Rutland, always rather fiercely proud of that background. Before ordination, he had worked for the Rutland Railroad and was ordained June 18, 1939 at the age of 32. Father Kelly spent his earlier priesthood in northern Vermont. He was Assistant at St. Mary's in St. Mary's in St. Albans from 1940 to 1943 under the late Msgr. Francis A. Welch. As a young priest he got along well with his pastor who was known as rather formidable. In 1943, Father Kelly became the First pastor of St. Luke Church in Fairfax. Prior to that time, St. Luke's had been a "Mission" Church, served by the pastor of St. Ann's in Milton.
Starting a new parish required much groundwork and details. A census of the territory had to be taken. Catechism classes had to be organized. All the details of a parish needed the new pastor's attention. Saint Luke Church was already there. He purchased land for a Catholic cemetery near the junction of routes 128 and 104. The trees he planted are now stately pines surrounding the cemetery. Father Kelly organized the parish well and put it on very good footing. A new parish and a pastor's first parish always hold a special place in the heart. So it was with him when he left Fairfax in 1953, after ten productive years.
From Fairfax, he went to Manchester as pastor of Saint Paul church there. Father Kelly went from the dairying area of Franklin County to a great recreational and vacation area. In Manchester he raised the funds for the new Saint Paul's Church which was built by his successor, Father James Murray. Father Kelly served Saint Paul's for twelve years.
In 1965, he went to St. Alphonsus' in Pittsford, for four years, then to Immaculate Heart of Mary in Rutland and St. Mary in Fairhaven for two years each. Father Kelly was named pastor of St. Dominic in Proctor in 1973 and served until he retired at 75 in 1982.
Father Kelly lived in retirement in Rutland. There, he was chaplain of Eden Park Nursing Home and McKerley Health Care Center. He helped parishes on weekends right up to his final rather brief illness. He enjoyed priestly work and the company of priests. Always a stickler for details, he was known for his self-discipline and dedication to the Church.
In Fairfax, he recently came back for a "former Pastors' night". He renewed memories of his first Parish, obviously enjoying meeting former parishioners, and reminiscing about "the good old times".
During these early years, religious instruction was restricted to a short class after Mass on Sunday and of a two week period of vacation school sessions during the summer. Later, under Father Kelly, classes were held weekly during the school year except during winter and early spring under the direction of the Sisters from Villa Barlow Convent in St. Albans. Many of us still remember Mother St. Suzzanne, the nun from Villa Barlow Convent, who was our catechism teacher when we made our first communion. The Sisters of the Holy Cross from Holy Angels in St. Albans and the Victorynoll Sisters from Burlington also taught in Fairfax on a weekly basis. Until 1948, Father Kelly conducted high school religion classes at Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax. After the McCollum case decision in 1948, high school classes were held in the Church on Monday evenings.When the Victorynoll Sisters left Burlington for Springfield, they were replaced in Fairfax by the Sisters of Providence from St. Louis Convent in Winooski.
FATHER JOSEPH P. SAWYER
Click here for a photo of Father Joseph P. Sawyer
Click here for a photo of Father Sawyer, Bishop Ryan and CYO officers of 1953
On March 12, 1953, Father Kelly was succeeded by Father Joseph P. Sawyer. Father Sawyer had served as the Pastor of the Bridport and Shoreham Churches for nearly seven years, having started his Pastorate there July 3, 1946. He was ordained to the Priesthood in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington, Vermont by Bishop Matthew F. Brady on June 7, 1941. His first appointment was to St. Augustine's Church in Montpelier where he served until August of 1943. Following that he was Chaplain of the Bishop DeGoesbriand Hospital for one month before being transferred to St. Mary's in St. Albans, Vermont. He was Assistant Priest at St. Mary's from September, 1943 until July, 1946.
Father Sawyer received his elementary schooling in the White River Junction Grammar School and graduated from Hartford High School. He attended St. Michael's College for two years, then spent two years in the Seminary of Philosophy in Montreal and four years in the Grand Seminary there.
While in Bridport he served first as the Moderator of the Rutland District of the National Council of Catholic Women and was Moderator, then, of the newly formed Addison County District.
He was also Addison County Moderator of the Catholic Youth Organization. He had shown a vital interest in the problems of the Addison County farmers. He had for several years been a member of the Forest Festival Week Celebration Committee, and a member of the large committee of the Green Pastures program. He was a member of the Bridport Grange, the C. J. Pomona Grange and the State Grange. He was an active member as well as Chaplain of the Bridport Fire Department which he helped to organize. He was on the Scout Committee for the Bridport Boy Scout Troop.
With the parish debt cleared, Father Sawyer set out to accumulate funds with which to build a new church. Although nearly blind, he compensated for his lack of sight by tremendous energy and a true zeal for souls. A born showman and entertainer, his highly organized and well-run parish bazaars and dinners attracted people from far and near. In 1956, the parish improvement fund was begun with a bequest from Father Alfred Couture of Vergennes who left $1,000 to the parish in his will. The fund was further swelled by a substantial bequest from Mrs. Bertha Spaulding of Fletcher and by the institution of a monthly collection for building purposes. By November 1959, the fund had reached $5,575.00.
Much of Father Sawyer's time was spent in the religious education of children. Nearly every new family brought in more children than adults so that by 1959, a total of more than 500 of 850 souls in the parish were not yet out of high school. These children required religious training and education and since classes in school were now out of the question, some 200 graded school children had to attend religion classes in five different groups in three separate locations in the church building itself.
Father Sawyer was named pastor of St. Francis of Assi Church in Windsor after six and one half years in Fairfax on November 25, 1959. In addition, he served as chaplain at the State Prison in that community. However, his ministry there was to be shortlived. In late October 1960, he suffered a heart attack and died on November 1, 1960
The following article appeared in the March 27, 1955 issue of Our Sunday Visitor.
FAIRFAX CHURCH IS REDECORATED
The interior of St. Luke Church of Fairfax has taken on a "new look" with the complete redecorating of the Church from the basement to the balcony. Louis Rocheleau of the Rocheleau Decorating Co. of Winooski recommended the color schemes that were followed throughout the Church.
The work was done by Wilson Howrigan and Francis Rooney, both parishioners of St. Luke's, together with the donated services of many parishioners of St. Luke Church.
"Painting Bees" were held on numerous evenings when as many as ten would be painting at the same time. Such freely donated services kept the cost of the decorating job within the budget of this small rural church.
At least two of the parishioners proved to have real artistic talent. One of these, Mrs. Wilson Howrigan, painted all the statues in the church.
Another, Mrs. Ralph McGue is touching up and refinishing a set of Stations of the Cross which were presented to St. Luke's from St. Francis Church in Windsor when a new set of Stations was installed there with their new church. These refinished Stations will be installed in St. Luke Church at a later date.
The ceiling of the main body of the church is peach in color with the walls in Nassau Green and the baseboard trip in Sandstone Buff. The white main altar stands out in bold relief because of a dark green sanctuary. The ceiling of the vestry is of light blue with the walls of peach.
The church hall has a ceiling of very light green with two toned side walls of a slightly darker green and Sandstone buff. New shelves have also been installed in the church hall.
Click here for a photo of Father Sawyer's Annual Bazaar
Father Sawyer's most enjoyable fundraiser was "The Annual St. Luke's Bazaar". Even though there was a chairman assigned - the real success of each bazaar can be attributed to Father Sawyer. Father did not see well, but every booth was designed and located according to his specifications. He was unable to drive because of his vision impairment, but never missed a bazaar in any of the adjoining parishes (I probably should say any bazaar within driving distance). We all enjoyed driving his old Packard to whatever destination he had in mind and knew our stay at any bazaar would not be a short one. He had to try every game to insure that none of the good ones would be missed in St. Luke's next extravaganza.
Click here for a photo of one of Father Sawyer's Celebrity Guests at his Annual Bazaar
The above photo was taken at the time Father Sawyer, the second permanent pastor of St. Luke's left Fairfax. Pictured in the front row seated are Father Sawyer and his mother with Janice (Hogan) Hoben standing. In the second row are Judy Anderson, Teresa Parah, Grace Pigeon, and Sandy Pigeon. In the back two rows are Art Webb, Girard Caron, Phil Parah, Homer Raleigh, Mike Wright, Frances Montgomery, Tom Soules, Normand Lavallee, Senator Richard Soule I and Albert Rich.
FATHER FRANCIS HICKEY
Click here for a photo of Father Francis A. Hickey
With the departure of Father Sawyer for Windsor, Father Francis A. Hickey was named administrator of St. Luke's Parish on November 24, 1959. He came here from St. Mary's Parish in St. Albans where he had served as an assistant since 1957. Noting the serious need for catechetical facilities for the children of the parish, Father Hickey first looked into the possibility of providing facilities at the church. He was advised that it was not feasible to undertake major improvements on the church property because of lack of land and the poor conditions of the church building resulting from the 1927 flood. It was felt, however, that the church could serve adequately as a place of worship as long as needed.
In the spring of 1961, two tracts of land totaling 5 1/2 acres became available on the Huntville Road in Fairfax village. It was felt that this site would be ideal for a future relocation of the parish property and the land was purchased from its two owners, Roy Warren and Roma Laverdure for a total price of $3,000. Meanwhile, better financial conditions had resulted from increased parish revenue and projects so that $12,000 was in the building fund by early 1963.
With the permission of Bishop Robert F. Joyce and the Diocesan Building Commission, Father Hickey contracted with Ralph F. Branon, a South Burlington architect, for Mr. Branon to draw up plans for a parish catechetical center on the Huntville Road property. The building consisting of four classrooms, a boiler room, and toilet facilities on the ground floor with a large hall, kitchen and storage facilities on the first floor was put out for bid in July 1963. The first floor hall could also be subdivided into four additional classrooms. The successful bidder on the brick and cement block building 73 feet by 54 feet, was the Kenclif Construction Company of Burlington and construction was begun on September 3, 1963, at a total cost of $90,000. The Parish was substantially assisted by a gift of $10,000 from the Rural Missions Fund of the Burlington Diocese of Bishop Joyce. Earlier in 1963, the parishioners had subscribed to an offertory drive for funds so that the total debt on the completed building was $65,000. Construction was completed in late March, 1964, and was blessed by Bishop Joyce on April 9, 1964. On November 25, 1963, a cornerstone was blessed and laid in place by Father Hickey and the building was dedicated to the memory of Father Alfred Couture and Father Joseph Sawyer, former pastors both deceased at the time, and of President John F. Kennedy, who's funeral was held on that date.
Father Alfred Couture was Pastor of St. Luke's Church from 1928 to 1942, when it was a mission of St. Ann's Parish in Milton. It was his bequest of one thousand dollars in 1956 which initiated the fund to bring about future improvement of parish property. Father Couture died on March 25, 1956, as pastor of St. Peter's Church in Vergennes. Father Joseph Sawyer who had served as Pastor in Fairfax from 1953 to 1959 when he was transferred to St. Francis Parish in Windsor where he died on November 1, 1960 had worked diligently to establish and build up a Parish Improvement Fund which had culminated in the erection of the new Parish Catechetical Center. In dedicating the Center in honor of President Kennedy, Father Hickey stated that it was only fitting on the day of the presidential funeral to underline the interest and concern of President Kennedy in the education of youth, which is to be the prime purpose of the new Center.
In 1964, catechism classes were being taught by Sister Ladislaus and Sister Clotilde from St. Louis Convent in Winooski; Judith Contois from Winooski; Mrs. Dorothy King, Mrs. Carol Bessette, Mrs. Frances Montgomery and Mrs. Irene Warner, all parishioners of St. Luke. Teaching assistants, who took a CCD teacher training course in Burlington were Mariette Lavallee, Marie Roberge, Sandra Young, Mrs. Mary Boissoneault, John Palmer, Michael Pigeon and Robert Rooney. The freshman and sophomore high school classes were taught by Bernard Keefe and the junior and senior classes were taught by Father Hickey. Most of the children lived quite a distance from the church and neighborhood car pools were used to transport the children to class. Westford children came by bus furnished by Roland Pigeon, a parishioner and school bus driver in that area.
Click Here To View Photo Of Parish Executive Board In 1964
The Parish Executive Board was established in 1958. In 1964, the officers were: Philip F. Parah, president; Phyllis Soule, vice-president; Mrs. Mary Jane King, secretary; and Roger Lavallee, treasurer. Other members included; Mrs. Frances Montgomery, Mrs. Irene Warner, Mrs. Carol Bessette, Henry Raymond and Bernard Keefe.
Click HereTo View Photo Of Holy Name Society In 1964
The Holy Name Society, which was established in Fairfax on January 21, 1948 for the spiritual benefit of the men of the parish, was quite active in the 1960's with about 60 members. Holy Name men received Holy Communion together on the second Sunday of each month. Meetings were usually held after Mass on the Communion Sunday and twice each year, the members had a covered dish supper for members and their wives. Of course, the wives usually fixed the food and pretty much oversaw the whole event. One of the covered dish suppers was always held in January, which was the occasion for the reception of new members. In conjunction with the Sodality (this was the women's group) the Holy Name Society held a series of card parties during the winter months on Sunday Evenings. In the summer they worked together on the annual summer bazaar.
Click Here To View Photo Of St. Luke's Sodality In 1964
The earliest group in the parish which was established in 1943 was St. Luke's Sodality. This group was very active and in 1964 had approximately 70 members. They unselfishly gave of themselves in planning and carrying out a series of programs and activities through the years that made possible the many renovations to the old church and rectory as well as the construction of the new parish center. The members received Holy Communion together as a group on the first Sunday of every month. Meetings were held on the second Tuesday of the month. Officers of St. Luke's Sodality in 1964 were Joyce Barkyoumb, Secretary; Lillian Berthiaume, Vice-President; Maryann Raymond, President and Catherine Palmer, Treasurer.
The St. Luke's CYO Group was started in 1945 and was made up of the high school students of the parish. In addition to the religious instruction they were given, frequent social activities, including dances and roller skating parties were held in conjunction with neighboring CYO groups. The CYO Group had about 75 members in 1964 and the officers were JoAnne Lavallee, president; Betty Barkyoumb, vice-president; Gail Berthiaume, secretary; and Michael Rooney, treasurer.
In 1964, the First Communion procedure was changed from children making their first communion in a group to reception of the sacrament, when sufficiently prepared, with his or her parents and family. Special notice was taken of the ceremony at Sunday Mass with parents taking a more active part in the religious event. I am not sure just how long this practice lasted, but the parish has since reverted to the First Communion Sunday for the group.
HOME MASS MAY BE WESTFORD FIRST
The following newspaper article, dated June 18, 1964, was given to me by Guy Roberge of Westford:
In accordance with Bishop Joyce's permission for Mass in the home of shut-ins and invalids, the sacrifice of the Mass was offered recently for Mrs. Cordelia Pouliot at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Odila Roberge. Most of her sixteen children and many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren assisted.
The Mass was offered by the Rev. Francis Hickey, pastor of St. Luke's Parish in Fairfax. Most of the 65 assistants at Mass also received Holy Communion. It is believed that this occasion marks the first time Mass was ever celebrated in Westford.
Click here for a photo of Father "Joe" Nugent saying a home mass
Click here for a photo of the 100th Birthday Celebration of Memere Lavallee
In looking back to the 40's, 50's and 60's, compared to today, many changes have taken place. Fairfax, Westford and Fletcher, once major farming communities are now comprised mainly of individuals with other occupations. Sunday was a day when you dressed in your so called "Sunday Best" to attend mass with women being required to wear hats and if you went to communion, fasting, which meant you could not even have a glass of water after midnight was required. My father, who was a farmer, limited his Sunday work to the necessities, which involved milking and the associated chores. On very rare occasions when weather had been poor and hay needed to be brought in, much against his better judgment, he would work in haying. My own job also did not require me to work on Sundays. Sunday was a day of rest, for everyone it seems except mother, who always had a special Sunday dinner. It was a day for seeing friends and family and doing the fun things instead of work. Today, for many, it is just another day at work, where Saturday night or Sunday Mass must be squeezed into the schedule some way. In a few situations, it is even necessary to ask for time off from work to attend Mass in a parish close to work. For others, it means attending Mass after working all night, hoping not to fall asleep during Father's Homily. Many stores and businesses are now open on Sunday. Also, in a high percentage of our parish families, both mother and father are in the workplace with many families being one parent families. Although, this may not be a part of the History of St. Luke's Parish, I felt it was important that we identify the changes in the makeup of St. Luke's Parishioners as we entered into the 70's.
ST. LUKE'S CHURCH RENOVATED
(Vermont Catholic Tribune - July 3, 1968)
Click here for a photo of the newly renovated sanctuary
Click here for a rare photo of the St. Luke's Choir Loft
Fairfax - The parishioners of St. Luke's Church are back in their own church for Sunday Masses following a five-week absence for renovations.
Included in the renewal program was the paneling of the church interior and sanctuary; a new side altar; the removal of the altar railing, pews re-varnished; stations painted; new sub-flooring and tile in church and balcony and carpeting laid in sanctuary and middle aisle.
All of the work was done by the parishioners themselves leaving only a total cost of $3,200 for the materials. Contributions of labor ranged from a minimum of two hours to a maximum of 150 by the men, women and high school students who took part.
Those unable to work during the renovations are invited and encouraged to make a financial contribution according to their ability so they may be a part of the project.
Click here for a photo of Father Hickey with his parents
The following obituary appeared in a local newspaper for Father Hickey:
ESSEX JUNCTION - The Rev. Francis A. Hickey, 50, pastor of Holy Family Parish here since September 1973, died early Friday morning May 31, 1974 at the Burlington Convalescent Center. He had served as pastor and assistant pastor of four other churches in the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Father Hickey was formerly executive secretary of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. He was especially interested in youth and community programs and participated in Marriage Encounter Programs throughout Vermont and helped to establish the movement in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Father Hickey was born in Keene, N.H., April 27, 1924. He spent his early life in Bellows Falls, and then moved to Greenfield, Mass. He was graduated from Turners Falls High School. He received his A.B. degree cum laude from Holy Cross College, Worcester, Mass., in 1944, and his degree in sacred theology from St. Paul's Seminary, University of Ottawa. He was ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington May 22, 1948, by the Most Rev. Bishop Edward F. Ryan. He said his first Mass at Holy Trinity Church in Greenfield, Mass., May 22, 1948. He served Vermont Catholic Charities from 1948 through 1951. He was assistant pastor at St. Peter's Parish, Vergennes, from 1951 to 1957, and assistant at St. Mary's, St. Albans, from 1957 to 1959. His first pastorate was at St. Luke's Church in Fairfax, from 1959 through 1968. He built St. Luke's Parish Center and renovated the church. He was pastor at St.Ralphael's,Poultney, from 1969 until he was assigned to Holy Family Church here. Father Hickey was assistant director of the Catholic Youth Organization from 1958 to 1962, and was director from 1962 through 1969. He was treasurer and a trustee of the Priests Benefit Fund from 1965 until his death. He was active in the Franklin County Development Association, also in Vermont Catholic Charities for many years. He also served in the Priests' Senate. He leaves his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Michael F. Hickey of Essex Junction; a brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Hickey of Manchester, Conn.; two nieces and one nephew, of Manchester,Conn. Funeral services will be held here Monday morning. The body will be brought to holy Family Church today at 4 p.m. and will lie in state there. A mass for parishioners of Holy Family will be offered at 8 tonight. There will be a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Monday. The body of Father Hickey will be moved to St. Raphael's Church in Poultney where it will lie in state Monday night until funeral mass at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Interment will be in the family lot in St. Dominic's Cemetery in Procter. The Diocesan Youth Council and Catholic Youth Organization will attend the funeral. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in Father Hickey's memory to the Priests Benefit Fund, Diocese of Burlington, care of Holy Family Rectory, 4 Prospect St., Essex Function, or to the local cancer society.
Following Father Francis Hickey, who was Pastor of St. Luke's from November 24, 1959 until September 17, 1968 was Father Joseph Nugent.
Click here for a photo of Father Joseph T. Nugent with Bishop Joyce
ST. LUKE'S PARISH OBSERVES SILVER JUBILEE
St. Luke's Parish celebrated its 25th anniversary on Sunday, September 29, 1968. Attending the event were Bishop Joyce, Msgr. Louis E. Gelineau, chancellor and vicar general, and several other members of the clergy.
During the 10:30 a.m. Mass, Bishop Joyce, assisted by the other priests, confirmed 45 boys, 34 girls and three adults. Following Confirmation was a dinner with Stephen Ratte acting as toastmaster.
Father Donald C. Kelly, the first resident pastor of St. Luke's, was called upon to say a few words. Bishop Joyce outlined the parish progress which has been accomplished over the past 25 years under the pastorship of Father Kelly, Father Joseph Sawyer, deceased, and Father Francis Hickey. Presently serving as pastor is Father Joseph T. Nugent who assumed the duties in September.
Thanks to Steve & Pauline Ratte who gave me the following obituary published in the Burlington Free Press on Friday, February 13, 1987.
ESSEX JUNCTION - The Rev. Joseph T. ("Father Joe") Nugent, 61, pastor of Holy Family Church in Essex Junction, died Thursday, February 12, 1987 at the Fanny Allen Hospital after a long illness. He was born June 30, 1925 in Rutland, the son of Edward M. and Helen (Mahoney) Nugent and ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1951, he celebrated his 35th anniversary as a priest of God on April 11th of last year. At that time he published a prayer card for friends and parishioners which included the words: "the clarity and care with which we have loved others will speak with vitality of the great gift of life we have been for each other."
Father Nugent received his primary education in Rutland, and attended St. Thomas Junior Seminary in Bloomfield, Conn. He graduated from St. John's Major Seminary in Boston, and was subsequently ordained at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop Edward F. Ryan. During his priestly life, Father Nugent served the Diocese of Burlington in numerous roles and offices. He was a parochial vicar at St. Raphael's in Poultney; St. Charles' in Bellows Falls; St. Stephen's in Winooski; St. Mary's in Middlebury and St. John Vianney's in South Burlington. He also acted as administrator at St. Anne's in Milton, and was a pastor at St. John the Apostle's in Johnson, and St. Luke's in Fairfax. He was pastor at Holy Family from 1974 until his death.
Always active in diocesan affairs, Father Nugent was a founder of the Priests' Senate, a director of communications for the diocese, originator of the monthly television Mass, vice-chancellor of the diocese and chaplain to the Knights of Columbus. He also held a lieutenant colonel's commission in the Vermont Air National Guard where he was chaplain for nearly 20 years.
In addition to his Church family, father Nugent cherished two other families: his blood relatives and his close friends. He will be remembered by each of them in a special way. He always believed that his mission in life was caring for people. To all who crossed his path, he will be remembered as a singularly loyal, generous and loving man. He will also be happily remembered for his love of Ireland and her culture. It manifested itself in his journeys back to the "Old Sod," and his love of Irish song, dance, customs and sayings.
He was fond of extending the Irish blessing: "May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand."
Father Nugent is survived by two brothers, William of Buffalo, N.Y., and Frank of Prescott, Ariz.; three sisters, Margaret of Medway, Mass., and Mary Nugent and Helen Gallagher, both of Rutland. He was predeceased by his brother Edward. He also leaves numerous beloved nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at Holy Family Church in Essex Junction. Friends may call today at the Corbin and Palmer Funeral Home in Essex Junction, from 7 to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. On Sunday at 4 p.m., Father Nugent will be received at Holy Family Church, where he will lie in state until the funeral on Monday.
Prayers will be offered at 7 p.m. Sunday. Interment will be at the family lot in Calvary Cemetery, Rutland.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the "Tree of Life" permanent endowment fund, Fanny Allen Hospital Foundation, Fanny Allen Hospital, Winooski, Vt., 05404. Arrangements are by Corbin and Palmer, and Jim and Steve Minor of Minor Funeral Home.
FATHER RAYMOND GIROUX
Click here for a photo of Father Raymond Giroux with his mother
ST. LUKE'S CELEBRATES 100TH ANNIVERSARY
(Vermont Catholic Tribune - November 12, 1976)
Click here for a photo of the 100th Anniversary Mass of St. Luke Catholic Church
A celebration was held in Fairfax on October 26th to commemorate the 100th anniversary of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church. A proclamation from Governor Thomas Salmon declaring the 26th as a day of joy and celebration for Fairfax Catholics and their friends was read in Church by the Rev. Raymond A. Giroux, pastor.
Guest homelist, Father James Ryan of Burlington recounted the history of St. Luke's, beginning with the day land was purchased in Fairfax by Bishop Louis de Goesbriand for the construction of a Church. Father Ryan spoke at a concelebrated Mass offered by seven priests presided over by Monsignor Walter Charland of St. Albans, Dean of the Franklin-Grande Isle Counties area.
A United States Flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in October was presented to the Church by Senator Patrick Leahy. Similarly, a flag of the State of Vermont flown over the State Capitol was presented by Governor Salmon. These presentations were made by eighth grade students who brought them to the altar during the Offertory procession.
The Rev. Lewis Drew, pastor of the United Church of Fairfax, spoke on behalf of his congregation and offered well wishes and prayers of the Protestant Christian Community. A reception followed in the Parish Center.
St. Luke Church was constructed in October, 1876 (my information indicates that construction was completed sometime in 1872) and continued its mission status until the appointment of its first resident pastor in 1943.
FATHER WILLIAM MORGAN
Click here for a photo of Father William Morgan with his mother
Father Morgan served St. Luke's Parish from June 29, 1977 until June 18, 1986. As you read down through the History of St. Luke's Church, a very prominent fact stands out. The parishioners of St. Luke's were very involved in every aspect of building, renovating and maintaining St. Luke Church. Father Morgan had the unenviable task of convincing the parishioners to abandon the church due to structural problems. To save on heating expenses, daily mass was usually said in an upstairs room at the rectory. In a letter sent to me by Father Morgan on December 8, 1998, he stated that he was happy that the conversion from the old St. Luke's Church to the Parish Center went as well as it did considering the emotional element. Father Morgan was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on April 26, 1928. His father, Frances A. Morgan was an accountant and his mother Jennie was a clerk for the Motor Vehicle Department. He attended high school in Malden, Massachusetts then St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts for eight years. His calling to the priesthood occurred during his junior high school years when he was influenced by the spirit of the Maryknoll Missionaries who spoke at a Communion Breakfast. Father Morgan, has always enjoyed hiking, skiing, fishing and sailing and according to his recent letter of December 8, 1998, still enjoys these same relaxing sports.
DEACON PROGRAM AT ST. LUKE'S
The order of Deacon began soon after the founding of Christ's Church, but gradually fell into disuse. In the course of time it became a stepping stone to the priesthood. The Second Vatican Council decided to permit the restoration of the Permanent Diaconate. It was to be a sacred order in its own right once again, and not a temporary experience for seminarians studying for the priesthood.
The Diaconate was reinstated in our Diocese in 1977, with the first ordination on June 22, 1980. Robert Marriott was the first Deacon at St. Luke's after his ordination on June 27, 1982. A year later, Steve Ratte joined Bob as a Deacon at St. Luke's after his ordination on June 25, 1983.
FAIRFAX CHURCH DEDICATED
(Vermont Catholic Tribune - October 19, 1982)
Some 235 members of St. Luke's Parish in Fairfax crowded into the 215-seat church for the October 10th dedication. The bricked structure replaces the former church that was discovered three years ago to have severe structural damage. The new church does contain six stained glass windows, including one of St. Luke, and pews taken from the old church.
Click here for a photo of Father Morgan, Bishop Marshall & Father Giroux
ST. LUKE'S ANNUAL TURKEY DINNER
Click here for a photo of Rita Bessette working at the Annual Turkey Dinner
In the forty-five years that I have lived in Fairfax, there is only one year that this dinner was not held. I am told that this started back in 1943 as a fund raiser for the parish and in speaking with Carol (Gaboury) Boissoneault last year who was in charge of the homemade rolls, she told me they were still using the recipe handed down through the years. This annual dinner, all homemade by the parishioners of the parish, has become such a success, that attendance has been limited to reservation only.
FATHER JOSEPH T. SULLIVAN
Click here for a photo of Father Joseph T. Sullivan
Father Joseph T. Sullivan was born January 27, 1926 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Rufus J. and Anna (Milos) Sullivan. His father Rufus served in WW1 and was a bookkeeper while his mother was a homemaker. He attended public schools in Springfield, Westfield, and Ware, Massachusetts. His high school, college, and post-graduate education was in La Salette Seminaries in Hartford and Bloomfield, Ct., Altamont, N.Y., Milford, Iowa and Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Father Sullivan was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood on May 1, 1952 in St. Peter's Church in Lowell, Massachusetts. He taught at La Salette Seminary (H.S.) from 1952-54 and his Parish Assignments were St. Francis de Sales, Phoenicia, N.Y. 1954-1955, St. Stanislaus, Nashua, N.H. (three months), Our Lady of Sorrows, Hartford, Ct. 1955-60, Our Lady of La Salette, Rainham, Essex, England 1960-62, St. James, Danielson, Ct. 1963-65, Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, St. Joseph, Burlington, Vt. 1965-70, Sts. Donatian and Rogatian, Randolph, Vt. 1970-74, Communication Director, Diocese of Burlington (radio, television, film and press) 1974-88, and lastly at St. Luke, Fairfax, Vt. 1986-1996.
Father Sullivan retired in 1996, and continues to assist in various parishes along with his position as diocesan Director For Evangelization which he has held since 1979. He is also spending his retirement years enjoying his hobbies of tennis, jogging, carpentry, travel and writing. Father has published three books, Exploring The Sunday Gospel (Liguori Publications), Good Morning, Lord (Twenty Third Publications), Good Night, Lord (Twenty Third Publications).
During the writing of this History of St. Luke's Parish, I sent a letter to Father Sullivan and asked him if he could tell me how his decision came about to become a priest. He explained to me that it was a gradual thing. He entered the seminary in his first year of high school and as the years went along he came to the decision. The bottom line, however, was that he believed that becoming a priest was the best way for him to save his soul, although, he observed, there are other pursuits and careers in which people, presumably, would be attaining life's ultimate goal.
The following is a quote from his letter to me on September 25, 1998:
"I am grateful for the privilege of having served at St. Luke's. Christ said that he came not to be served, but to serve. It is a blessing to have assisted the good parishioners in Fairfax, Fletcher, and Westford for the ten years I spent as pastor. We journey through life side by side with Jesus. He unites us in a family of faith. There are many reasons to be thankful for the participation and involvement of our parishioners.
It is very pleasing to see that we continue to support the good works of Sister Cecile's Mission. I believe that our monthly checks and annual lawn and bake sales were initiated about ten years ago. This provides us with a sense of mission as well as a sense of accomplishment. If all our parishioners had the opportunity to observe the poverty in the Dominican Republic, and the excellent work of Religious Hospitalers of St. Joseph are doing, they would be truly inspired."
In September of 1986, the Katherine Hoben Fund was established. The monies contributed were to be used to construct a ramp for the handicapped at St. Luke's Church. Katherine passed away earlier in the month and was a lifetime resident of Fairfax and an active parishioner who had also served as housekeeper at the rectory during the pastorate of Father Raymond Giroux.
In 1987, parishioners at St. Luke's made contributions for 24 inch outdoor statues for an outside Christmas crèche. Each statue was purchased in memory of a loved one. A plaque with names and the particular statues was attached to the stable during advent and an outdoor rustic stable was built to proportion and constructed by Wendall Nolan.
Also, in 1987, St. Luke's parish adopted into its care the foreign mission of San Jose de Ocoa in the Dominican Republic. Sister Cecile Smith, a native of Richford, Vermont and a Religious Hospitaller of St. Joseph had been working in San Jose de Ocoa for 15 years. Six percent of the parish's ordinary income as well as individual contributions and revenue from an annual lawn and bake sale were sent to this charity. This practice continued throughout Father Sullivan's Pastorate at St. Luke's and is still continuing under Father Feltz's Pastorate in 1998.
On April 30, 1988, St. Luke's Parish requested permission to sell its present rectory at 1166 Main Street in Fairfax and build a new rectory near the church. The consulters and the Bishop replied in the negative and even after being petitioned for reconsideration on September 14, 1988 replied that "In their judgment," the Bishop said, "it is inopportune to sell a very substantial rectory in Fairfax and build another near the church which would cost more than the sale price." The market value of the old rectory, at that time, was estimated at $119,000-$124,000. The proposed rectory was estimated at $149,000.
In 1989, St. Luke's parish acquired a new set of Stations of the Cross in February. The Stations originally hung in Holy Family Church in Essex Junction. They were given to Father Philip Branon of St. Rose of Lima Church in South Hero by Father Leo Gingras and had hung in the basement of St. Rose Church as aids to the religious education classes. Father Sullivan blessed the new Stations and erected them canonically. These Stations are larger than the previous ones. They are graphic and portray the scenes of the Way of the Cross more realistically.
In September, 1989, having received the approval of the diocesan authorities, a ramp for the handicapped was constructed by J & L Foundations. The ramp begins at the rear door of St. Luke's Church and travels back and forth close to the building for a distance of 72 feet. This complies with state regulations of one inch per foot in slant elevation. The cost was $16,863. On Sunday, November 19, 1989, the new ramp for the handicapped was blessed by Father Sullivan immediately after the 11 a.m. Mass. Maryann (Hoben) Raymond, daughter of Katherine Hoben and Henry Raymond, Maryann's husband, cut the tape, symbolically opening the new access.
On October 26, 1989, the church driveways and parking lot were paved by the Roy Yandow Company of St. Albans, Vermont at a cost of $15,500. The black asphalt was also extended over the front sidewalks leading to the Church entrance. The soil on the church site is clay. The paving is expected to remedy the ongoing and ever-recurring pot holes. It should also facilitate snow removal in the winter months.
Early in 1990, the old garage (used solely for storage) next to the parish rectory was dismantled and removed.
In 1990, the parish re-purchased the 1.8 acres of land adjacent to the church parking lot. The parcel had been sold to the Town of Fairfax. The Town intended to build a fire station there, but as details developed, the station was constructed on the opposite side of Route 104 on land sold to the town by Robert Young. The parish had sold the land for $9,000, and was able to buy it back at the same price.
In the fall of 1990, the parish contracted with J. A. Roberts of St. Albans to paint the interior of the church. From a dark brown, the walls became white. Muffi Sterling was hired to make new blue drapes and blue accessories for the tabernacle area. Chair cushions for the chairs in the sanctuary were covered with matching blue.
In addition to the renewal and refurbishing of the church, a new altar was donated anonymously in memory of Myron Jones and William Holmes. New white Mass vestments were donated by John and Mary McDevitt in memory of Mary's mother, Marion Ponto. New red Mass vestments were donated by Tim and Jeannette Wills in memory of Jeannette's father, Leo P. Guelpa. New green vestments were donated by John and Betty Collins in memory of their fathers, Owen Collins and Harold Shepardson. A new benediction veil and stole were donated by Michael and Agnes Hibbs. A new benediction cope was donated anonymously.
Bishop John A. Marshall blessed the new altar and preached at the church Sunday, January 20, 1991. Parishioners were pleased and grateful, not only to have Bishop Marshall for the special Mass, but also that the bishop graced the occasion by participating in the luncheon that followed.
During the succeeding months and into 1991, parishioners volunteered to paint the classrooms in the lower church.
A complete roster of parish family names was published as well as the photos of 108 families by a representative of the National Directory Service for Catholic Parishes in Cleveland, Tennessee on May 24, 25, 26, 1991 and distributed on November 9, 1991. Mary McDevitt was our chairperson and chief organizer.
A Knights of Columbus council was organized and chartered in St. Luke's Parish in 1992. Named after the parish's first resident pastor, The Donald C. Kelly Council #10830 formally received its charter from State Deputy, Bob Ose, on June 28, 1992.
On Sunday, December 6, 1992, eleven women were formally installed as members of the newly-formed parish women's group.
After a meeting of several parishioners in the summer of 1992, it was recommended that a monument to the unborn be erected on church grounds. The parish contracted with Densmore Monuments of Burlington. A rose-colored stone monument depicting the Holy Family was blessed October 25, 1992. It reads, IN MEMORY OF THE CHILDREN WHOSE LIVES WERE TAKEN WHILE AWAITING BIRTH. BLESSED IS THE FRUIT OF YOUR WOMB (Luke 1:42). The monument was given in memory of Mary Ratte who passed away June 6, 1992. It is a gift to the parish by the Steve Ratte family.
In 1996, final approval was received to build a new rectory located on the Huntville Road property near the church. The old rectory was sold within a very short time and it was necessary for Father Joseph Sullivan, then Pastor of St. Luke's Parish, to establish a temporary residence in a house owned by Marcel LeClair on Route 104 while the new rectory was being built. Father Sullivan moved into the new rectory on May 28, 1996 and Mst Rev. Kenneth A. Angell, bishop of Burlington blessed the newly constructed rectory on June 8, 1996.
Bishop Angell blesses the newly constructed rectory at St. Luke's Parish, Fairfax
FATHER JOHN G. FELTZ
(Assigned to St. Luke's October 1, 1996)
Click here for a photo of Father John G. Feltz
Father John G. Feltz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 25, 1946. He attended Catholic grade school, high school, Catholic College and was sent away to Rome for his studies at the English Pontifical Beda. He was ordained for the Diocese of Burlington which is the whole State of Vermont. He wanted to function as a priest in a smaller parish setting in a smaller diocese, and thus, applied for Vermont. He has been a priest since November of 1973. Out of those 24 years he has been a Pastor 14 years. His first assignment as a Pastor was following a Pastor who had died. The first Parish, the Pastor had been dead six months and there had been a variety of administrators. The second Parish, he had replaced a Pastor who was there nine years, starting his tenth. He had just celebrated his 25th anniversary to the priesthood and was killed in a car accident the next day. Father Feltz came in within a month after this tragic accident.
He has been involved in a variety of projects to help his own growth in becoming a better priest. So, instead of going away to Rome or to Notre Dame to do what they call a refresher course, he went to St. Michael's College in Winooski and plugged into the area of counseling. Father Feltz also was able to update his Theology, the tools that he needs to be a good effective priest. For about eight years, he has been a Chaplain for the Civil Air Patrol, which is an auxiliary branch of the Air Force. The majority of his work in the area has been working with young cadets. He has also been a Dean, a Dean is like a supervisor on a local level representing the Bishop and that was from 1989 to 1995. He is now a Chaplain with the United States Army National Guard in Vermont (Forward Support Unit). The Guard's work is not only once a month being at drill and making services available, but counseling, thus the reason why he worked on his doctorate. Again, to help him be a better priest, a better Pastor, a better chaplain, fine tuning his skills.
He was a Pastor of three churches located in Hardwick, Vermont. Up until about five years ago, it was only one church, St. Norbert's, but because of the shortage, he has acquired a Parish which had a Mission and thus the three churches. He had St. Norbert's in Hardwick with about 330 households, St. Michael's in Greensboro Bend which has about 98 households and Our Lady of Fatima in Craftsbury which has about 48 households. To get the total number of people you would multiply by 2.5. In merging and trying to bring together these different worshipping churches (communities), it has also given him a deeper insight into the area of Pastor Counseling because there is a certain process of grieving. (Not having their own local priest, but also a change of going to from a parish now even though we no longer use the term "to a mission church" status), some people still think now they are no longer autonomous, but they have to rely upon the mother church or the church where the Pastor resides and thus in their tands, they consider themselves a mission church. Some of the areas that he enjoys are watching musicals, golf (when he is able to get a chance to get out) and the reading of murder mysteries or novels.
In October of 1996, Father was asked to become Pastor of Fairfax and Georgia. These two churches have 800 families (520 Fairfax and 280 Georgia).
In April of 1997 Father received his Doctorate of Ministry, Pastoral Counseling. He really enjoys not only his priesthood, but also many of his real nice and neat parishioners. He is now working on his Doctorate in Psychology. Father Feltz remained the pastor at St. Luke's until June 21, 2000 when he was assigned to St. Mark's Parish on North Avenue in Burlington, Vermont
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Steve & Pauline Ratte, Theresa Raymond and Donna Varrichione for their interest and help in compiling this History of St. Luke's Parish.