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St. Bartholomew Church 1878-2009

Parish History
Stations of the Cross
Parish History
Photo Gallery
The Organ
Father Dyer
Pastors & Vocations

Prior to 1850, the Catholics of Palmer were tended to by Rev. John D. Brady and Rev. James A. Strain of Chicopee Massachusetts. In 1850 Rev. William E. Blenkinsop suceeded Rev. Strain and was then assigned to Springfield, Massachusetts. Throughout 1851 and 1852 Rev. Blenkinsop could only visit Palmer about twice a month because he also attended to several other towns in Western Massachusetts.
In 1854 Gamaliel Collins Esq. purchased the old Congregation Meeting House (Pictured Below) at a cost of $500.00. This building still stands accross from the Thorndike Post Office on Church Street in Thorndike.  The church was concecrated in 1855 by Bishop Fitzpatrick of Boston.  Rev. Blenkinsop was suceeded by Father Healy who resided in Ware, Massachusetts.  During Healey's tenure he remodeled the old Congregational and now Catholic Church and built St. Patrick's Church in Monson, Massachusetts.
In the mid to late 1860's Father Lasco took charge of area parishes for about six months and died after becoming ill. He was suceeded by Father Moyse, who was suceeded by Rev. Anthony J. Rossi who remained in service until 1869 until he was transfered to the Boston Diocese to care to St. George's Parish in Saxonville, MA.  Father Mollinari was stationed at Palmer for just a few months before the arrival of Father F.J. Lynch in 1869.


Father F.J. Lynch became Pastor of the Palmer area in 1869 and assisted in establishing three "English speaking parishes." Father Lynch was ordained in 1865 after studying at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore Maryland.  He was in residence during the outbreak of the Civil War and was present when the city was overcome by Union Troops.
In 1876, through the efforts of Father Lynch, the first Catholic Church was erected in Thorndike called St. Mary's Church (Pictured below [Now St. Mary's Episcopal Church]) It was constructed at a cost of $2,300 and was able to seat 700 parishoners.


Until around July of 1878 Catholics in Palmer worshipped at St. Mary's Church. The population of Palmer and its villages split the area into three parishes.  St. Mary's of Thorndike, St. Thomas of Palmer, and St. Bartholomew of Bondsville.


St. Thomas' Church (The original church pictured above, the rectory pictured is still present) was completed in 1878 for about $4,000.  The building had a seating capacity of 250 people but was expanded begining in August of 1888 to seat 600 people.  The church was re-dedicated on March 24th, 1889.



St. Bartholomew Parish was organized in 1878 by Father Lynch, the building being erected throughout 1878 and 1879 at a cost of $3,000. Land for the church was provided by the Boston Duck Company which was a textile mill and largest employer in Bondsville. The seating capacity was 500 people and the first mass was celebrated on Christmas Day of 1879. The first pastor was Father Bartholomew McKeany, which is why the parish was named St. Bartholomew's.  The church was not officially dedicated by the Bishop of Springfield until 1884.  At the time, St. Bartholomew served approximately 800 Irish Parishoners, 300 Polish, and 200 French.


The exterior of St. Bartholomew prior to 1912, notice the absence of the monument erected in 1912 at the middle of the intersection.


St. Anne's Parish of Three Rivers which was organized in the early 1880's, had a French mission church built on Main Street Bondsville (pictured above) in 1889 to serve the French population of Bondsville.  This building stands two buildings in from the intersection infront of St. Bartholomew's, a green and white residence.


Seen above are the 1934 telephone book listings for all of the Catholic Churches in Palmer and its villages.


The interior of St. Bartholomew's prior to the Vatican II changes.


The Sanctuary in 1967.


A wedding in 1967.


A bride walking out to her horse and buggy limosine.



O.A. Parent's store across the street from St. Bartholomew Church at the corner of Main and State Streets. This building is now a private residence.


J.F. Hanifin Shoeing and Jobbing (Blacksmith) located directly behind St. Bartholomew Church. This building no longer exists.