St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church is a church in Souris PEI, which has become one of the most notable buildings in the town. It is prominently visible upon entering the town.
The current church is a large Gothic Revival structure, built into a cruciform shape with a medium pitched roof. The exterior walls are built almost entirely of sandstone (Parks Canada), much of which was quarried in nearby St. Catherines, and Chepstow, at the bottom of Steele's Lane.
The first Roman Catholic church in Souris was built in 1838 by Thomas Stone and Michael Bagley. Land was bought from Francis Cheverie and parishioners assisted in preparations for the church by clearing the land of trees. The dimensions of the church were sixty-five by thirty-five feet. The priest in charge of this early church was Reverend John McDonald of Glenaladale, who offered the first mass in Souris Church in January 1839.
This church was destroyed by fire in June 1849, yet was rebuilt by November of that year with the building of a new parochial house in 1862 by Rev. James Phelan. This second church measured eighty by forty five feet, with a tower reaching one hundred feet high. The builder was Ronald Ban MacDonald.
By about 1882, the Souris parish numbered approximately 100 Catholic families. In 1901, under the guidance of Reverend Donald Francis MacDonald, plans were made for a new building to be constructed of Island stone to accomodate the growing parish, making use of plans made by Island architect William C. Harris. The tender read as follows:
"For the construction of a new ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH at SOURIS, P.E. ISLAND, DESIGNED BY MR. W.C. Harris, architect, to be built of stone or brick, about one hundred and eighty feet over all in length, and to seat almost nine hundred and fifty people."
Local contractors James MacEachern, Edward Duffy, and Bernard Creamer were chosen for the project (Parks Canada). A large number of community fundraisers were organized, and one popular one was a tea and picnic, which was advertised in The Guardian of 12 July 1902. The picnic and tea itself was held on Monday, 14 July 1902. Construction of the new church was completed in 1902, and the first mass held in the church was led by Rev. Ronald B. MacDonald.
Unfortunately a faulty flue caused this new church to burn in 1928, leaving only the exterior sandstone walls standing. John Marshall Hunter was hired to oversee the rebuilding of the church, and it was around the remaining walls that the current church came to be.
The interior of the church underwent extensive renovation in the 1950s, under supervision of Monsignor J.A. Murphy. The church's tower used to have a large spire, but it was destroyed in the 1928 fire and was replaced by its current truncated structure. The church can hold approximately 1200 people.
Extensive renovation work to the roof and tower took place in the spring of 2017.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church". Canada's Historic Places. Parks Canada. Web. 9 Feb 2013
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Tuck, Robert C. "Seeing Souris". The Island Magazine. 1984: 9-14. Print.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Island Lives. "St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church." UPEI. Web. Accessed 11 June 2013