The establishment of St. Patrick Parish dates back to 1887, as shared by Father Henry Joyner, then pastor of Assumption Parish in Grand Falls. The Limestone mission was initiated by Fr. J. J. O’Leary, who served as the pastor of Grand Falls from 1870 to 1889. The first mass in the original St. Patrick church, later destroyed by a fire in 1953, was celebrated by Fr. Raymond Pennafort, O.F.M. on March 3, 1923, after obtaining approval from Bishop Chiasson of Chatham on February 26, 1923, for the Franciscans to assume control of the Limestone Siding mission.
A church was constructed a decade after the establishment of the mission, in 1897. A photograph of this original church is displayed in the parish hall. This church succumbed to a fire in 1948.
The parish administration was under the jurisdiction of the pastors of Grand Falls for many years. In 1922, negotiations began to transfer the parish of Limestone Siding to the Franciscans, initiated by Father Thomas Albert, the Grand Falls pastor from 1921-1924, through a letter to Fr. Hugolin Lemay, O.F.M., Superior at the Maliseet Indian Reserve.
Consequent correspondence between Bishop Chiasson, Father Albert, and Father Jean-Joseph Deguire O.F.M. expressed a shared desire for the Franciscans to assume responsibility for the Limestone Siding mission. By February 1923, the Franciscans had provisionally accepted the mission, and they remained in charge until Father Lionel Beaulieu’s departure on August 27, 1978. Father Lionel passed away on August 29, 1985.
Father Raymond Pennafort is believed to have celebrated the first mass on March 3, 1923, commuting from Maliseet by boat or over ice. He resided temporarily in the rectory adjacent to the church and was among the Franciscans who served in the New Brunswick missions from 1921 to 1942.
The parish suffered a significant loss on June 6, 1948, when a fire destroyed St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and the church hall. Sunday masses were held in Jim McCarthy’s barn starting from June 17, 1948, while plans for a new church were promptly initiated. The first mass in the new church’s basement was celebrated on the first Sunday of Advent, November 28, 1949. Bishop J.-Roméo Gagnon blessed the new church on September 29, 1953, with the completion of the church by Father Berard Nobert later that year.
After Father Lionel Beaulieu O.F.M. replaced him, Father Berard continued to serve at Saint Patrick until his death on February 3, 1975, and is interred in the parish cemetery at Saint Patrick’s. Father Lionel was the last Franciscan to reside in the parish until 1989 when Father Norman Thibodeau briefly occupied the rectory. In 1978, Father Lionel was succeeded by Father Ovide Tanguay, who also served as the pastor of the Parish of Our Lady of Mercy at Aroostook, NB. Father Ovide eventually returned to Montreal due to health issues. Between 1978 and 1986, various priests took over the pastoral care of the parish.
The pastoral care of the parish was assumed by several priests, including Father Norman Thibodeau, who served as the pastor of the Indian Reserve at Maliseet, and Father Roméo Cormier. Father Léo Grégoire, I.V.D., who was already responsible for the Parish of Plaster Rock and the Red Rapids mission, expanded his duties to include pastoral care at Saint Patrick’s.
In July 1986, Msgr. George Travers took over as the parish priest. Msgr. Travers was a retired Brigadier General and Chaplain General from the Canadian Armed Forces, and hailed from Baker Brook. However, due to a serious illness, he relinquished his pastoral duties in late November 1988. He was succeeded by Father Léo Grégoire, I.V.D. Sadly, Msgr. Travers passed away in March 1996.
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