Fonds - Holy Apostles Parish (Renews, Newfoundland) fonds

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Holy Apostles Parish (Renews, Newfoundland) fonds

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  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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Renews Parish

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on correspondence in the fonds

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Dates of creation area


  • 1884-1982, predominant 1951-1970 (Creation)
    Holy Apostles Parish (Renews, N.L. : Catholic)

Physical description area

Physical description

6 cm of textual records
6 photographs: b&w

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Administrative history

The year that Holy Apostles Parish was established is commonly accepted as being 1835. Some say, however, that the actual establishment date is in the 1870's. In the early 1980's, a questionnaire was sent out by the Archdiocesan Archives to different parishes to be answered by the current parish priest. The response from Holy Trinity Parish indicated that, except for a three year period (1832-1835), the area from Cappahayden to Brigus South came under Ferryland Parish until the year 1870 when the new parish of Renews-Fermeuse was created and it's first pastor, Rev. J .J. Walsh, was appointed. As well, the response to the questionnaire from the parish in question, Holy Apostles Parish, states that the Parish was established in 1874. Most other sources seem to agree, however, on the 1835 date.

Holy Apostles Parish included the communities of Port Kirwin, Fermeuse, Kingman's Cove, Renews, Cappahayden and Chance Cove. In the later part of the nineteenth century, however, the whole population of Chance Cove moved to Massachusetts. Chance Cover is now a provincial park. Prior to 1835, these communities were all part of Holy Trinity Parish, Ferryland. In 1853 the Presentation Sisters headed by Mother Bernard Kirwin, established a convent in Port Kirwin. Originally the parish center for Holy Apostles Parish was at Fermeuse. In 1867, however, the parish center was moved to Renews. As well, the Presentation Sisters moved from Port Kirwin to Renews in 1876. In 1998, Holy Apostles Parish, along with Holy Trinity Parish and Immaculate Conception Parish, Cape Broyle, was canonically suppressed in order to form the new Holy Family Parish.

While Rev. James Murphy is noted as the first parish priest of Holy Apostles Parish, earlier, another priest, Rev. Fitzsimmons, is said to have celebrated mass at the "Mass Rock" in Renews. The Mass Rock, also called Midnight Rock, is where masses were said in secret before religious freedom was granted to Roman Catholics in Newfoundland. In 1927, a grotto was erected at Mass Rock. Rev. Fitzsimmons is also credited with building the first church in Renews, sometime before 1816. Another church is also believed to have existed but the year and locality are unknown. The present church at Renews was built in 1884.

Before Holy Apostles Parish was created Rev. James Duffy was there as a curate and he built the first church at Fermeuse which was a one-room structure with no pews. In 1922, a new church was built at Fermeuse; The first church in Port Kirwin was built by Rev. Murphy and he dedicated it to the Immaculate Conception. The exact date of this church is not known but it is believed to have been erected sometime near the 1850's. In 1940, this church was destroyed in a fire.

The first church in Cappahayden was actually the house of a local resident. Rev. Walsh, however, built a chapel-school whereby the school was separated from the church by a single partition. In 1966 the church at Cappahayden had to be removed due to the erosion of a nearby cliff.

The first school at Port Kirwin was founded by Mother Bernard Kirwin of the Presentation Order. After the Sisters relocated to Renews, however, there is no account of a school at Port Kirwin. A previous resident of that community stated that the current little church at Port Kirwan was actually an old school that was converted into a church.

The first school in Fermeuse was opened in 1838. At some later point a second school was established and both schools had male and female students. By 1857, sources say that "in Fermeuse, North-side, there are two [schools], together with the Convent school." The first school at Kingman's Cove was built in 1860.

Renews got it's first school in 1840 and it was made up of two sections, one for boys on the North side of the harbour and one for girls in the sacristy of a small chapel. In 1875, a new school for the girls was built and, in 1876, a new convent school was opened. The boys moved to the new school while the girls moved to the convent school. By 1933, the convent school was the only school at Renews. While it appears that a school at Cappahayden was established in 1875, like the other schools in the area, this one closed in the late 1960's with consolidation.

In the late 1960's the schools in this parish underwent some changes as a result of the formation of a Consolidated School Board. Fermeuse school was reverted to an elementary school which served the needs of students from Fermeuse, Port Kirwin, Kingman's Cove, Renews and Cappahayden. The school in Kingman's Cove was phased out completely. Renews High School became a Junior High School for students in the area while the primary and elementary students went to Fermeuse and the High School students to Ferryland.

As with other parishes, Holy Apostles Parish also has a Parish Council. The fonds does not supply any information on this group but does mention the existence of the People's Eucharistic League in 1922, a Reconstruction Committee in the 1970's, and the Catholic's Women League in the 1980's; Some of the priests who served Holy Apostles Parish are as follows: James Murphy (1835-1861); C. A. McCarthy (1920-1957); Thomas Moakler (1958-1965); John Hanton (1968-1979); John O'Deady (1979-1986); and Gordon Walsh (1986-1988). As well some of the administrators of the parish were Leo G. O'Shea (1957-1958); Philip Lewis (1965-1968); Gerald F. Roche (1989-1990); John McGettigan (1990-1993); E. J. Sutton (1993-[1996?]); and Paul Lundrigan (1996-1998).

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of financial statements (1916, 1920-27); correspondence (1884, 1951-70); parish boundaries (1982); church documents (1884, 1915, 1920, 1982); and six photographs; Fonds also includes printed material which relates to the Parish's history and activities.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Majority of the records have been acquired from Holy Apostles Parish. Additional material has been added by the archivist.


Language of material

  • English
  • Latin

Script of material

    Language and script note

    English predominates. Some Latin documents included.

    Location of originals

    Availability of other formats

    Restrictions on access

    Restrictions on access may apply. Consult the archivist.

    Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

    Finding aids

    Box list available

    Associated materials

    See Holy Trinity Parish ( Ferryland, Newfoundland) for records that predate the establishment of Holy Apostles Parish.

    Related materials


    Fonds remains open. Further accruals are not expected as this Parish was suppressed in 1998.

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    Dates of creation, revision and deletion

    Created - April 24, 2013

    Language of description

    • English

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