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History of St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church on Block Island

From it's inception, the guiding principles of St. Andrew Parish are Family and service to the Parish Family and the wider community. The Parish history is replete with such accomplishments. Give the praise to God.1927 Saint Andrew

With construction of a breakwater in the 1870's at Old Harbor, the island began to attract an increasing number of summer residents. For Catholic vacationers, Block Island had one important drawback: the difficulty of getting to Mass on Sunday. Up until 1888, Catholics who wished to attend Sunday Mass had to take a steamer to Stonington, Connecticut, a trip that took up the better part of the day. In August of 1888, Rev. John Daly, a Dominican Father, came to Block Island to recover his health and
immediately realized the need for Catholic services. With the permission of Bishop Matthew Harkins, Fr. Daly celebrated the first Mass on Sunday, August 12, 1888. He offered Mass at 6am for those employed in the hotels and at 10:30 for the visitors. After that, priests from the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul came regularly during July and August to offer Mass in the old skating rink or some
other hall.

In 1898, Mr. Patrick Flynn of Woonsocket purchased the parcel of land on Chapel St. for a future church. Then in 1899, Bishop Harkins hired the prominent contractor Michael J. Houlihan to build the church in sections and in 1900 he loaded the sections on a schooner charted from Darius Dodge. Within four weeks, the building, with a seating capacity of 500 was ready for services. Fr. William Stang blessed the church and offered the first mass on July 8, 1900 placing the new church under the patronage of St. Andrew the Apostle.


In 1917, the Rev. James P. O'Brien was assigned to St. Andrew as it's first full time pastor. He purchased the old house on Spring St. as his rectory and winter chapel. Over the next sixty years the parish was staffed by full time or part time pastors depending on the availability of priests and the capacity of the parish to sustain a priest.

Fr. Robert Randall conceived the idea of building a parish center and rectory across the street from the old rectory on Spring St. The new buildings were dedicated and blessed on October 14, 1979 by Bishop Louis E. Gelineau, Bishop of Providence. It was during the time of Fr. Randall that Katherina and Frederik Breydert designed the exquisite stain glass windows of "The Six Days  of Creation andChapel St. Church the Jesus and Mary,windows all unique to St. Andrew Church. The Steinway in the Parish Center  came at this time, a gift of the Greenlee family. Ralph and Dorothy Greenlee also gave to the Chapel St. Church the stunning mahogany "corpus" of Christ and also the mission bell.


In 1993, extensive renovations to the Church on Chapel St. were commenced under the leadership of Rev. Donal R. Kehew and with the most generous support of the parishioners and visitors. The stain glass windows that glorify both side of the Church's nave were formerly in the Chapel of St. Antoine in North Smithfield, R.I. The Randall and Kehew tenures were truly the golden age of St. Andrew Parish which ushered in a time of growth and stability which continues up to today.

St. Andrew Parish is buildings, grounds and people with an extended family that spans the globe. With the guidance of its Patron, St. Andrew the Apostle, and the full participation of its parishioners and friends, St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church on Block Island has a glorious future with NO end in sight.                                                                   

Rev. Joseph Protano, Pastor, presently serving.