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- Variations in title: Previously known as Burin Parish.
- Source of title proper: Title based on correspondence in the fonds
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1833-1985, predominant 1916-1974 (Creation)
- St. Patrick's Parish (Burin, N.L.: Catholic)
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The parish of St. Patrick's, Burin was formed in 1833, creating the only religious district extending to the west coast of the island. As early as 1810, however, a Roman Catholic mission had been established at Burin, visited by Rev. William Hearn. Even earlier, in 1786, when a Dominican friar, Rev. Edmund Burke (Bourke), built a chapel and presbytery at Placentia, he included Burin as part of his district. By 1820, Burin had a resident priest, Rev. John Fitzsimmons.
Originally, the boundaries of St. Patrick's parish were large and undefined. Bishop Michael Fleming simply instructed Rev. Michael Berney, the first curate (1833) and parish priest (1844-1886), to start at Merasheen Head, Placentia Bay, and continue as far west as he wished, or was able to reach. Reports suggest that Rev. Berney travelled to Fortune Bay, Hermitage Bay, and visited the Mi'kmaq population along the coastline. Roughly speaking, the parish began at Little Paradise in Placentia Bay and extended southward to Cape Chapeau Rouge.
By 1870, the Roman Catholic population on the west coast and northern peninsula had increased dramatically and the Bishop decided to send a priest from St. John's to minister to that area, thus easing the burden of the Burin parish priest. In 1904 the area was officially established as the Diocese of St. Georges. The parish of Burin was further reduced when the parish of St. Lawrence was established (1854) and Lamaline (1856). In the 1909, communities in Fortune Bay and along the south coast were removed ("dismembered") from Burin Parish, Diocese of St. John's, and were reorganized as Fortune Bay parish, Diocese of St. Georges. That same year, Marystown Parish was established. A final reduction was made to St. Patrick's Parish with the establishment of Rushoon Parkers Cove Parish (1913). By the mid 1970s, Burin parish served Burin Proper, Epworth, Frenchman's Cove, Fox Cove, Mortier, Corbin, Salmonier, Burin Bay, Burin Bay Arm, Salt Pond and Lewin's Cove.
Some sources indicate that Rev. William Hearn built the first chapel in Burin in 1811, while other records imply that the first chapel was constructed between 1815 and 1820. It is known that a priest visited Burin twice a year during this period. According to a letter written by Bishop Fleming (1836), Rev. Berney had erected a new church which stood at a great height. Rev. Berney also established chapels in St. Lawrence, Lawn, Beau Bois and Oderin. By 1849, there were eleven churches in the District of Burin.
Priests who assisted Rev. Berney in ministering his vast parish were Rev J. Cullen (1854-1855, 1863), Rev. W. Forristal (1855-1856, 1858), Rev. R. O'Donnell (1862-1871), Rev. Dennis O'Brien (1864), Rev. W. Born (1871-1882), Rev. W. Downey , Rev. M. Morris (1872), and Rev. V. F. Reardon (1883-1888).
Burin parish has been served by an additional 22 priests, including Rev. P. M. O'Connor (1890-1906), Rev. J. McNamara (1906-1913), Rev. F. Ryan (1915-1918), Rev. T. J. Bride (1918-1925), Rev. James Miller (1925-1934), Rev. Wm. Collins (1934-1941), Rev. John Hunt (1943-1952), Rev. James A. Dunne (1952-1956), Rev. Wm. K. Lawton (1957-1965), Rev. John F. Wallis (1965-1971, Rev. John McGettigan (1971-1977), Rev. Tony McNulty (1977-1980), Rev. Joseph Barton (1988-1992), and Rev. Fred Brown (1994-).
A second church was built at Burin in 1900. This church functioned until 1991 when a new church was built in the more central community of Salmonier. With this centralized church, Fox Cove church was closed and Corbin church resettled, leaving the church at Frenchman's Cove as a mission.
Interested in establishing schools in the burin area, Rev. Berney, joined the Education Board for the Electoral District of Burin in 1836; the same year a census mentions only one school in the area with twelve females and eight males in attendance. By 1845, only three communities, Burin, Beau Bois and Great St. Lawrence, had a school.
The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Burin in 1863. Between the late 1800s and early 1900s, they built a new, three classroom school. As schools in the area were nondenominational, the Sisters taught girls who came from all areas of the District, even St. Pierre. While not much is known about the boy's school, they were taught by the priest or a lay male teacher. The Sisters left Burin in 1914 and eventually the school at Burin became co-educational. The Sisters returned again in 1966, six years after the beginning of school centralization in the area. With centralization, smaller schools were closed and a new High and Elementary school were built for students from Burin, Salt Pond, Salmonier, Port au Bras and Mortier.
Parish groups were organized in St. Patrick's soon after the parish itself was established with the first, the Star of the Sea Society, being established by Rev. Berney. In 1874 Rev. Born founded a society for men entitled the Immaculate Conception Association of Burin (reorganized in 1918 as the Holy Name Society). Recent parish organizations include the Catholic Council of Men, Women's Society, the Altar Society, the Parish Council and the Parish Pastoral Council.
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