Our Worship Sites

Welcome to St. Thomas Aqunias Church and St. Basil Chapel!

St. Thomas Aquinas Church

103 Center Street
Bridgewater, MA 02324

History of St. Thomas Aquinas Church

Before the founding of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, the Catholic residents of Bridgewater had to travel to Taunton, often on foot, to attend Mass. Later, some missionary priests started to celebrate Mass in the homes of some of the Catholic residents of the town, with the first Mass celebrated in 1848. One of these visiting priests, Fr. Aaron L. Roche, saw that private homes were becoming too small to accommodate the growing Catholic population and began working toward the construction of a church for the town. He bought an acre of land for $350 to serve as the space for the church and cemetery. The parish was named after St. Thomas Aquinas (patron of Catholic schools, colleges, and universities) because of the Normal School nearby as well as the fact that Fr. Roche was a Dominican like St. Thomas. The original church building was built by parishioners who came to work on the structure after long days of hard work at the Iron Works or other jobs in the area, and who contributed their limited resources to get materials. They faced threats, at-tempts to burn the unfinished structure, and other difficulties created by parts of the local population which opposed the building of a Catholic church in Bridgewater. Overcoming all these obstacles, they finished the structure in 1858.

St Thomas Church in 1858

St. Thomas Aquinas Church c. 1860

 

 

St. Basil Chapel

122 Park Street
Bridgewater, MA 02324

History of St. Basil Chapel

St. Basil’s Chapel was built in 1965 to house the Newman Club that had been active on the campus since it was formally organized in 1936 by Father Joseph Bernard who was a curate at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. The club would serve both the spiritual and the social needs of its student members. In the following decades the population of the school grew and became predominanty Catholic, which led to the expansion of the club as well. By 1957, the Newman Club at Bridgewater State College was the second largest organization of its kind in the United States. In that year the Newman Club was the largest student club on campus with 450 of the almost 700 Catholic students paying membership dues, out of a total student population of 1300. Many of these students would walk a mile and a half on weekday mornings to attend Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, sacrificing breakfast, with those students making up 90% of the daily Mass attendees at that time. These facts were presented to Cardinal Cushing and when a house on Park Ave. was offered for sale in 1960 the Archdiocese of Boston purchased it in behalf of the Newman Club for $15,900. This house was remodeled and used by the club from 1961 to 1964, and then was replaced by the current chapel and Catholic Center.

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

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