A Brief History of our Parish
Roman Catholics settled in the Warren area as
early as 1840. Their spiritual needs were served by
visiting priests who occasionally celebrated Mass on Croade
Street. St. Mary of the Bay Church, the first Roman Catholic
parish established in Warren, officially began in 1851 when a
small chapel was built and the first pastor, Reverend Hilary
Tucker was named.
In 1881, during the pastorate of Reverend
Michael McCallion, St. Mary’s Chapel, the parish rectory and a
third building owned by the parish was destroyed by fire.
The pastor and parish made plans to rebuild and the new church
was completed and dedicated in 1883.
During a four-year term as pastor, beginning
in 1892, Reverend James Fogarty supervised the building of St.
Mary’s Institute. This building, located next to the rectory,
served as a parish social center for many years.
In 1904, Reverend Austin Dowling was
appointed pastor of St. Mary of the Bay. Father Dowling
was later named Bishop of Des Moines before being appointed
Archbishop of St Paul.
During the extensive pastorate of Reverend
James FitzSimon, many repairs and improvements were made to the
parish buildings. When Reverend George Archambault became
pastor in 1946, he directed the purchase of land and a building
for use as a convent. He made the initial plans for building a
parochial school with the Sisters of Mercy as teachers.
Unfortunately, his dream for a parochial school never
In 1951, St Mary of the Bay Church celebrated
its 100th Anniversary with a town-wide celebration
and centennial banquet.
In June 1967, with Reverend David J Coffey
as pastor, Bishop McVinney approved plans for the construction
of a new church for St. Mary of the Bay as well as a parish
School of Religion. This was to be the first School of
Religion established in the Diocese of Providence. On July 19,
1970, the new and third Church of St Mary of the Bay was
consecrated and dedicated to the honor and glory of God under
the patronage of His Most Holy Mother.
During the pastorate of Reverend Bertrand L
Theroux, beginning in 1988, it was found that the church steeple
need to be removed to prevent further damage from an on-going
leak problem. In 1989, the large convent on Main Street was
closed and a smaller convent built on church property near Water
Street was built for the Sister of Mercy in residence. Also,
during his pastorate, Father Theroux and the parishioners of St.
Mary of the Bay formulated plans to renovate and modernize the
church sanctuary. This extensive interior renovation was
completed and a dedication ceremony was held in 1998. The
former convent on Main Street is still owned by the parish and
is currently a group home operated by the North American Family
Institute serving the needs of at-risk adolescent girls.
With his appointment as pastor in 2000,
Reverend Peter J Gower and the parishioners of St. Mary of the
Bay began the exciting task of planning for the parish’s 150th
Jubilee in 2001. The year 2001 was a time of great celebration
as the parish recommitted itself to carrying on the work of
Jesus Christ in the new millennium.
The parish continues its spiritual growth.
In 2006, the parish became a Stewardship parish. With the
establishment of the Pastoral Stewardship Council, the spirit of
stewardship began to permeate all parish ministries and
activities. Each year more and more parishioners are
coming forward to share their time, talent and treasure to
further build up the Kingdom of God.