Who We Are
The Parishes of St. Philip in Toledo and St. Denis (Mission) in Athens serve a diverse population in leeds-grenville counties.
History of St. Philip Parish, Toledo, Ontario
St. Denis Church is located in the Township of Athens, the center of Leeds County, with a population of 2800, about thirty minutes north-west of Brockville on County Road 42.
The new and present St. Denis Church in Athens was consecrated at 2:00 P.M. on May 18, 1980 by The Most Reverend J.L. Wilhelm, D.D., Archbishop of Kingston. The pastor was Rev. R. John A. Ferguson. The achievement was the proud work of all parishioners under the leadership of the Parish Council: Chair Morris Julien, Secretary, Pat Flood and members Theodore Bootsma, Burt Hudson, Paul Kleisath and Charles Robertson.
Just six short years later on January 26, 1986 in a ceremony lead by Paul Kleisath, Maurice Julien and Gerry Flood, the loans, costs and mortgages totalling $125,000 were declared “PAID IN FULL”. A report in the Recorder and Times noted that the congregation fundraised $46,000 before construction was completed and that 2% interest was paid on a $60,000 loan from St. Francis de Sales Parish in Smiths Falls with a similar loan of $19,000 from the Diocese. Father Hibbard noted that, like the situation when the original Church was built in 1894, the Parish was indebted to and grateful for the assistance received from all the local Catholic churches and the large Protestant population in the area.
A plaque at the rear of the Church today reveals more history: Located on land immediately adjacent to the present church across from Pineview Public School, the original Church was built in 1894 and Blessed on October 20, 1895 by The Most Reverend John Cleary, D.D., Archbishop of Kingston. The first pastor was Rev. J.J. Kelly. This first church cost $5000 and the building was constructed with an outstanding debt of only $800.
At the debt/mortgage retirement in 1986 for the present St. Denis Church, Father John Hibbard noted: “We must now be a forward and outward-looking church and conscious of those in need for all around us are many people in need and who suffer.”
These words of wisdom reflect the stated mission of St. Denis Parish today: “Through worship and positive actions to know the heart of Christ and be the hands of Christ.”
Let these thoughts and words be our guide as we strive forward.
(with information gratefully provided by a parishioner and a past edition of the Recorder and Times)
History of St. James the Minor, Ballycanoe, Ontario:
The community is known both as Ballycanoe and Trevelyan. It is west of County Road 5 between Ballycanoe and Caintown Roads, on the Catholic Church Road.
St. James the Minor Roman Catholic Church was the first and only Roman Catholic church in what is now known as Front of Yonge Township. It was a large parish serving an area with boundaries from Lyn in the east to Lansdowne in the west, and included the Township of Rear of Yonge and Escort and south to the St. Lawrence River.
The first Mass celebrated in Ballycanoe took place in 1836 in the home of James Flood, an Irish immigrant who arrived in Ballycanoe in 1828. St. James the Minor Church was built in Ballycanoe in 1861, when the first Mass was celebrated in the new church on Christmas Day 1861. Rt. Rev. E.J. Hogan, Bishop of Kingston, consecrated the St. James Cemetery on July 13, 1869. The cemetery was in use in 1847, perhaps even before then. Ballycanoe became an independent parish in 1884, with Mass celebrated each Sunday and Holy Day by Rev. Fr. Wm. E. Walshe, then a curate at Brockville. The Rectory was completed on October 24, 1885, and on December 27th, 1885 Fr. Wm. E. Walshe was appointed the first pastor.
St. James continued to be a major part of the community until the late 1960's. By 1971, there were fewer than 23 families attending St. James. Sadly, the last regular Mass was celebrated on March 12, 1972. St. James Church was closed on March 15, 1972, but the cemetery continues to serve family and friends of St. James, Ballycanoe.
The Cemetery is located in Concession 4, Lot 24, in the Township of Front of Yonge, County of Leeds, in the Province of Ontario.
This information was sourced with permission from "The Last Front, A People's History of Mallorytown & the Front of Yonge Township" by David and Sandra Wells (2014)