St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church
Essay by H. Rumble

The establishment of the church of St .Mary Immaculate in Richmond Hill took place in 1857, when the first Roman Catholic Church was opened in the spring of that year. Over five hundred persons braved the somewhat unfavorable weather to attend the memorable event. A report from the "Toronto Mirror" of that year reveals that friends of the congregation journeyed in carriages from as far away as Toronto, to evince their interest in the opening of the church. It is aid that the collection amounted to about $240 that Sunday.

In the years before, the district had been visited only occasionally by missionary priests from York. The first Roman Catholic church in York was erected in 1822, and the priests stationed there looked after the needs of the northern missions. A visiting priest would say the Mass and administer the sacrament in private homes. During the early years the Rev. Father Edward Gordon’s name stood out as one who worked unflinchingly in serving these outlying townships.

A request for permission to construct a church, and engage a resident clergyman was made to the second Bishop of Toronto, the Rt. Rev.Armand de Charbonnel in March 1852, one of the signers being Mr. Mathew Teefy, local postmaster, a man who had a great deal to do with the early development of Richmond Hill. The plan did not materialize at the time of the petition, but by November 1857, the Rev. Fr. McNulty wrote to his Bishop: "I have a new church finished in good state and well painted". Most of the work was done by the congregation; the pews wore made by hand, and then owned and occupied by the people who constructed them. The opening was an important event. At eleven о clock Fr. McNulty attired in his robes proceeded around the church attended by the choir and congregation. Miss Edmonds accompanied the choir with the melodeon. The church was described as being “a beautiful structure of convenient size”.

This first church was located on Mill St. between the High School and Lucas St. The present church on Yonge St. was erected under the guidance of the Rev. Patrick McMahon, in 1894. He was parish priest for fourteen years, until his death in I907. It is interesting to note that the first priest ordained from the parish was the Very Rev. John R. Teefy, С.S.B. Superior of St.Michaels College.

Rev. Father McGinn has, been in charge of the parish since 1942.

Personal note: The first church was located next to my grandmother's home on Mill St. Many devoted members of the church were her friends, although she was not of their faith. Some of these were Mrs. Mahony, Mrs.Riley, Mrs. Hennessey.

In my youth I played among piles of stones, all that was left at that time of the old Roman Catholic Church.
St. Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic Church
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