History of the St. Augustine Parish

Welcome! We are proud of our little parish in the Blackstone Valley and would like to share some of our pride and heritage with you.

Back in 1848, Millville was a Missionary station. Practicing Catholics either walked the 4-mile round-trip to Blackstone to hear Mass, or they awaited the once-every-3-month arrival of Rev. James Fitton in Millville.

In 1879, Fr. William Power of Blackstone had the foresight to realize that, with its growing Catholic population, Millville had need of its own church. He arranged for the use of the T.T. Smith Hall on the corner of Central and Bow Streets, Millville. In 1880, Fr. power obtained our present site, and the original St. Augustine Romanesque style church was built.

Rev. Michael Kettridge was appointed to St. Augustine in 1884 and set our Parish on an even keel by liquidating a $2500 debt on the existing property and by building a new rectory.

In 1888, improvements and renovations were made to St. Augustine Church, including the addition of electric lights! Property on the east side of the church was purchased, and a substantial stone wall was built around its entirety. Our first full-time sexton was also employed.

A gift was made of a new church bell in 1893, and this was placed in St. Augustine tower.

From 1902 until 1968, St. Augustine continued to grow and prosper. During this time our parish was served by Fathers James Prendegast, John Leonard, John McLaughlan, Daniel McDermott, Francis Swift, Thomas O'Rourke, John Finneran, and James Clifford.

On Thursday morning, February 27, 1969, a fire razed St. Augustine Church to the ground. Although the church was lost, the parish was not, and Mass continued to be said in the old Millville Town Hall.

Through strength of purpose and parish spirit, fund raising and pledges amounting to over $150,000 allowed our present St. Augustine to be built. Our beautiful new church opened its doors on November 8, 1970.

In 1971, Fr. Andrew Sullivan joined the St. Augustine family. Through his frugal management, substantial funds were saved for future needs.

In 1990 Fr. Sullivan retired and Fr. Roland Chenier came to St. Augustine. As our parish continued to grow over the years, many unfulfilled needs became more obvious over time, most important of which was a parish meeting spot. Up until this time, religious education was conducted at the old Longfellow School; parish groups met in the Rectory or in private homes; large functions were held at Town Hall or at local halls.

Under the guidance of Father Chenier, fund-raising and pledging was again underway in 1991, this time to raise enough money which, when added to what had been previously saved by Father Sullivan, could be used to build this much needed new center. The fund-raising drive was a success, and in June 1993, St. Augustine's own parish center became a reality.

Fr. Jean-Paul Gagnon came to us in November of 1995, soon after our church marked its 25th anniversary. The church now needed a new roof, as did the rectory. The parking lot and church grounds needed attention as did the carpeting inside the church and the rectory windows. Fr. Gagnon and the parishioners met the challenge and undertook the current Millennium Pledge Drive to address the parish needs while continuing to reduce the parish debt.

Following Fr. Gagnon, Deacon William Lucier was named Parish Administrator until December 2003 when Fr. Maurice Gilbert became the Priest Administrator of St. Augustine.

Here at St. Augustine, our faith and our works are fully alive!