About Our Parish



The village of East Stoughton was growing, and by 1850 a large group of Catholics had chosen the village as their new home. Most of the early Catholics were Irish immigrants fleeing their homeland due to famine.  They found jobs both farming and working in the many shoe factories that existed within the village.   

The early settlers would travel to Quincy or Dedham to attend Mass.  Neighboring Randolph was also growing and in 1851 St. Mary Parish was established to serve the growing Catholic population.  

 Priests from St. Mary and other parishes in the area continued to visit the village and celebrate Mass in private homes and at Forest Hall located in the village center. These occasional Masses did not fulfill the religious zeal of the village Catholics. So a group of the village men, armed with picks and shovels, began the construction of a simple wooden church in the village center. On August 11, 1872, a glorious day, the new church was blessed and a dedicatory sermon was delivered by Bishop John Lynch of Charlestown, South Carolina.

The new church was administered by St. Mary Parish in Randolph under Rv. Michael Burns. Records show that later Rev. Thomas O’Brien was appointed Pastor of St. Mary and sometime later a Curate Rev. James J. Kelly was appointed to assist Fr. O’Brien.

In 1880 a parishioner, Andrew McCabe, purchased a parcel of land on East Spring Street for the “burial of Catholics” within the village. Mr. McCabe, who arrived in the United States from Ireland, at the age of fifteen, had become very successful in the shoe industry.  Many years later the parish would reimburse Mr. McCabe for his investment on their behalf.

In 1887 the village of East Stoughton and the Town of Holbrook were constituted into a new Parish with the Rev. James J. Kelly as Pastor.

Fr. Kelly took up residence in Holbrook which then became the parochial seat of the Parish.

Almost sixteen years after the dedication of St. Michael Church the long simmering dispute between the village of East Stoughton and Stoughton over water and representation was finally settled when the State Legislature granted East Stoughton independence. On February 21, 1888 the new Town of Avon was officially incorporated.

St. Michael Parish was well represented as at least six parishioners assumed positions within the new Town government.   Over the next twenty years the parish and town prospered and grew.  On February 25, 1908, then Archbishop William Henry O’Connell constituted St Michael Church as an independent parish.  At that time the parish was composed of 108 families numbering 604 parishioners. Rev. Edward J. Dolan was appointed Pastor, and within several months he purchased the former H. L. Blanchard estate on North Main Street as the parish residence.

The new parish thrived and soon became the focus of spiritual life for the Catholics of Avon.  The Holy Name Society, Ladies Sodality and the Catholic Order of Foresters were all active. They helped not only parishioners, but the community at large, as the challenges of World War I and the Depression overshadowed life within the town.

In 1922 Rev. Leo J. O’Neil serving as Pastor organized a celebration for the Golder Jubilee of the old wooden edifice in the town square. Fr. O’Neil would become one of the two longest serving pastors in the history of St. Michael Parish, serving from 1917 to 1931.  Later in 1931 Rev. William J. Foley would be appointed Pastor and also would serve for fourteen years.

In November 1947, over six hundred people gathered to celebrate the seventy fifth Anniversary of the Dedication of St Michael Church.  Archbishop Richard J. Cushing offered congratulations to the parish on its many accomplishments as a relatively “new” Parish, being just 39 years old.

St. Michael Church suffered a tragic loss in 1948 when Rev. Michael J. Norton passed away.  Fr. Norton had served as pastor since 1945 and had helped the parish through difficult days as the war ended.  Fr. Norton was succeeded by the Rev. Remi B. Schuver.  Fr. Schuver would see the parish grow three fold during his pastorate.    

For nearly two years St. Michael Parish served as host to Rev. Jerome Gallagher, SA.  He was overseeing the construction of the Chapel of Our Savior at the “new” Westgate Mall.  The chapel is still staffed by the Friars of the Atonement.

By 1960 the old wooden church in Goeres Square was bursting at the seams.  In order to accommodate all the parishioners five Masses were offered each week.  Fr. Schuver died in 1961 and is buried in St. Michael Cemetery.

Rev. James T. Smith was appointed pastor to succeed Fr. Schuver.  Fr. Smith had served briefly as curate in 1954-55.  Within months of his arrival Fr. Smith had seen the need for new facilities for a growing parish community.  The beloved parish church in the square was showing its age and the parish had certainly outgrown the building.

By this time the liturgical changes of Vatican II were being implemented and Masses were being offered in English and the Altar had been moved to face the parishioners. These new liturgical norms would provide further challenges to the old church.  Soon it came clear that the new Church and a new Rectory could be built on the parish owned property on North Main Street.

Fr. Smith worked to include some part of the former church into the new edifice and was successful in having the marble altar face of the former main altar (featuring the Eucharistic lamb) worked into a side altar honoring the Blessed Mother.  That altar has since been moved to the center of the church and serves as the focal point of our Eucharistic celebration. 

Richard Cardinal Cushing dedicated the new church in 1964 with a standing room only attendance.  While complimenting the Parish for the beauty of their new church the Cardinal also announced his plan to build a Catholic hospital in Brockton.  That hospital was later named in his honor and is today Caritas Good Samaritan Hospital.

Fr. Smith also guided the parish through its greatest population increase as well as expansion of parish programs.  The clergy staff increased by an additional priest and the priests and seminarians of Glastonbury Monastery (now Glastonbury Abbey) continued to help minister to the parish.

Among the many parish organizations at that time were the Holy Name Society, Our Lady’s Sodality, the Catholic Youth Organization, C.C.D., Altar Guild, a Jr. C.Y.O. and the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus.

Fr. Smith along with Rev. James O. Eskeridge, Pastor of the Avon Baptist Church, began the Thanksgiving Eve Ecumenical Service which continued for over thirty years. Fr. Smith passed away in August of 1969 and was succeeded by Rev. A. Paul Gallivan.

Fr. Gallivan was an energetic leader, who not only influenced life within the parish, but became intricately involved in the community.  Through his efforts the Town of Avon created a Housing Authority. He was then elected to the Authority and became the first chairman. Through the efforts of the Housing Authority, Fellowship Circle Senior Housing Complex was constructed.

The liturgical changes of Vatican II brought about still more change during this period as we saw the altar rail disappear and still more changes to the form of Mass.  Certainly the church was alive and changing.  St. Michael Church was part of the Universal Church.                                         

Fr. Gallivan was appointed pastor of St. Clare Parish in Braintree in 1974 and was succeeded by Rev. Francis J. Mosley. Fr. Mosey served as pastor of St. Michael Church from 1974 until 1982. Fr Mosley will long be remembered for his ministry to the sick and elderly.

Over the years St Michael Parish has been served by many curates, assistants, and associates, call them by whatever term is appropriate for the time period.  These dedicated and devoted priests have assisted the respective Pastors in helping to build the strong and vibrant parish which exists today.  However we would be remiss in not singling out one priest whose ministry as an Associate Priest at St. Michael Parish spanned twelve years, the longest tenure of any of his contemporaries.

Fr. Joseph Donovan, a Stoughton native, was assigned to St. Michael Church just a few months before the death of Fr. Smith.  He served under three different Pastors and saw numerous changes.  Fr. Donovan was named Pastor of St. Margaret Parish, in Brockton in 1981.

Fr. Donovan entered God’s eternal kingdom in 2006 and in his bequeaths of earthy possessions left St. Michael Parish a sum of money.  That money was used to purchase the chimes which now grace our church and are dedicated to Fr. Donovan’s memory.

In 1982 Rev. William C. Kerivan became the second priest to have served St. Michael Parish as a curate and then return as Pastor.  Fr. Kerivan served as a curate at St. Michael Church in 1953-54.  As Pastor, Fr. Kerivan oversaw the many activities celebrating the 75thAnniversary of St. Michael Parish.  Due to health problems Fr. Kerivan sought help from the Archdiocese and in 1985 Rev. James D. Lyons was appointed Administrator of the Parish. Fr. Lyons remained at St. Michael Church for a little over a year while Fr. Kerivan recuperated.  Ultimately Fr. Kerivan was granted sick leave by the Archdiocese in 1987.

Rev. Paul E. Curran was appointed Administrator succeeding Fr. Lyons in November of 1986 and was appointed Pastor in 1987. Fr. Curran served as Pastor until 1995 and will be remembered for the strengthening of bonds between our neighbors at the Avon Baptist Church and St. Michael Parish.

In October of 1995, Rev. John W. McElroy was appointed Pastor of St. Michael Parish.  A former Military Chaplain, Fr. McElroy brought a new “style” to homilies during Mass.  His ever present jokes or stories became a point of discussion throughout the Parish as parishioners looked forward to new material each week.  Fr. McElroy also began a series of needed repairs to the Parish facilities.

Fr. McElroy retired October 2000 and was succeeded by Rev. C. Paul Rouse.  Fr. Rouse brought his love for music to the Sunday Liturgy.  Although his pastorate at St. Michael Parish was short we are indeed indebted to him for his leadership and ministry.

Rev. Louis Palmieri was appointed Pastor of St. Michael Parish on September 29, 2003.  Most parishioners will not forget the evening of his installation as Pastor as we were hit with a very early winter crippling blizzard. Shortly after Fr. Palmieri began his pastorate the Archdiocese of Boston began the process of Parish Reconfiguration.  It was a period of great anxiety for all Catholics within the Archdiocese.  Through prayer and faith St. Michael Parish remained to continue our mission as a vibrant Catholic community.

During his pastorate Fr. Palmieri improved the facilities along with the dignity and beauty of our worship space.  In 2006 the Parish was fortunate to acquire stained glass windows which previously had served St. Joseph Church in Salem, MA.  Through the generosity of many benefactors the windows were installed in our church.  These magnificent additions to the Church have enhanced the facility beyond words.

On June 29, 2008, His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap., incorporated St. Casmir Parish of Brockton into St. Michael Parish. This action took place after consultation with parishioners of St Casmir Parish who chose to join St. Michael Parish over other parishes. The energy and spiritual dedication of these parishioners has been extraordinary and a sincere blessing to Parish. During this same year, the parish conducted a celebration of the 100th anniversary of St. Michael Parish as an independent parish.

St. Michael Church has again been enhanced with many furnishings of St. Casmir Church.  Our worship space has been dignified by the presence of their beautiful statues and stained glass.

In 2010 Rev. Thomas Boudreau was appointed Pastor of St. Michael Parish replacing Fr. Palmieri who was appointed Pastor of Holy Family Parish in Amesbury.  During Fr. Boudreau’s pastorate St. Michael Parish and St. Joseph Parish entered a collaborative between the two parishes. Shortly after this Cardinal O’Malley appointed Fr. Boudreau, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in addition to his pastorate at St. Michael Parish.

The history of St. Michael Parish spans many years and throughout those years one thing has remained constant.  The faith of our parishioners has not been lost, but in fact has been tried and strengthened.  The parish has been served by many fine Priests, Sisters, and Brothers.  For all of their efforts on our behalf, we thank them.  Their presence amongst us has broadened our knowledge and love of Our Lord.



This History is based upon works of former historians of St Michael Parish, Robert F. Doyle and William A. Clark.  Information was also obtained from the late Rev. Joseph Donavan.  Historical notes also draw upon “A History of Avon, Massachusetts 1720-1988” by William F. Hanna.  Historical research was also performed by the author, Frank Hegarty.

We have built upon the foundation that our forebears passed to us.  Now let us go forward to insure that we leave this Church stronger and more vibrant for the generations that will follow us.

Please remember the Priests, Sisters, and Brothers who have served here at St. Michael Parish in your prayers.  To those who have entered eternal life, may God grant you eternal rest!

To those who still labor in Gods vineyard, Thank You for your ministry to us.

















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