A former Elm Street vestry for the Padanaram Congregational Church, built in 1834, became the first Catholic Church in Dartmouth in June of 1923. For its first seven years it served as a chapel and a mission affiliated with St. James Church of New Bedford.
Gaining independent parish status in July of 1930, the church was named St. Mary’s with the Rev. Francis J. Duffy, then a curate at St. James, appointed as its founding pastor. The existing church facility had the capacity to seat only up to 200 persons. The rapidly growing congregation soon found the small structure inadequate for its needs and set upon constructing a new worship space to better serve the people of Dartmouth.
Set on a three-acre triangle of land donated by the DeMello family, the current church structure, which now seats 550, faces the village of Padanaram at the confluence of Dartmouth, Middle and Prospect Streets. Noted for its stunning setting and pristine beauty, the construction of the present church was started under the guidance of the Rev. Msgr. Arthur G. Considine on the 25th anniversary of the parish in 1955, and was dedicated on May 10, 1956.
There was no architect for the church, and Rev. Considine and contractor Gerald McNally used modified plans for an existing church in the diocese to create the simple and stately Colonial-style building, the first new church in South Dartmouth. Some of its distinguishing characteristics include the pink-stained windows that adorn the church-spire and the black walnut crucifix suspended above the altar holding a linwood corpus carved in Italy. Also crafted in Italy were the side-alter statues of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. The statues that make up the Stations of the cross were given in 1923 by the late Msgr. Henry J. Noon, the pastor of St. James Church and were later refurbished by the noted South Dartmouth artist Louis Sylvia.
Fourteen wrought-iron lights suspended from a convex ceiling illuminate the church’s interior, and ten translucent stained-glass windows illuminate the body of the church with blue and red motifs. The children of the parish presented the prominent statue of Our Lady of Grace on the front lawn to St. Mary’s.
The current St. Mary’s Church was dedicated on Ascension Thursday, May 10, 1956, by the most Rev. James J. Connolly, D.D., bishop of Fall River Diocese. Also in attendance was the most Rev. Frederick A. Donaghy, M.M., a former New Bedford resident who, at the time, was the bishop of Wuchon, China. Other dignitaries included Rev. Humberto S. Medeiros, chancellor of the diocese, Rev. John P. Driscoll, assistant chancellor, and Rev. Howard A. Waldron.
With the Holy Spirit as life-giver, the parish of St. Mary’s seeks to live out the promises of baptism by being rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ and his church.
We promise to nurture the parish family by sharing our gifts of time, talent and treasure.
Through the sacramental life of the church, we also promise to strengthen our resolve to foster the spiritual growth of the parish by evangelizing, faith sharing, faith formation, and fellowship.
We are renewed in faith and hope, confirmed in loving service to others, and united as a catholic family.
The family of St. Mary’s Parish lives out it’s faith through many diverse ministries. We invite you to come and become a part of our mission, to share your gifts and talents with one another and with the greater community. If you would like any information regarding the ministries listed below or if you have a vision for a new ministry please call the Parish Rectory at 508-992-7163 or email Fr. David Frederici at firstname.lastname@example.org.