Prior to the mid 1940’s Hudson had no large industry. As World War II ended cars and gas were more obtainable and travel was easier. Families were moving into the area and finding employment in Nashua or other places, and choosing Hudson as their place of residence. Families with Catholic background traveled to Nashua for their religious connections. Those families of French descent would attend Infant Jesus (Crown Hill) or St. Francis Xavier (French Hill). Those of Irish descent attended St. Patricks; Polish descent to St. Stanislaus; and the Lithuanian families to St. Casimir.
By the mid to late 1940’s the Catholic population in Hudson neared 500 families. The Bishop of Manchester, Most Reverend Matthew F. Brady, decided that Hudson could well support and maintain it’s own Roman Catholic Church. In May of 1947 Articles of Agreement were written by Bishop Brady stating that the Diocese would establish a church in Hudson. Thomas J. O’Loughlin and Arthur L. Lougee were selected as trustees. The months which followed were spent planning, selecting a site, and procurement of land. By March 1949 the Diocese owned three contiguous land parcels. Two of these, the former Goddard Home and Connell Home, faced Library Street. The third parcel, formerly site of the town sheds, was to the rear of these parcels and had frontage on Chase Street. This third parcel would become the parking lot for the church. You may be asking, as I have, why this particular location was chosen? It is conveniently located, close to the bridge, and close to Town Services. Beyond that I have no additional insights. As you read this article, you may have some thoughts to share.
By March 17, 1949 the first pastor, Rev. John Belluscio, arrived in Hudson and took his residence at St. Patrick’s in Nashua. Within two days of his arrival the Rowell Family of Hudson offered the use of the old Ferryall farmhouse on Webster Street so he could be closer to his parish. Hudson had it’s first rectory! Father John held the first Mass in Hudson on April 3, 1949 in the gymnasium of the H.O. Smith School, then the Hudson Junior High School. Sunday Masses continued at the school until a building was ready for use on Library Street.
Work on the new church buildings began the very next day. The Goddard house on what is now 27 Library Street was razed to make room for the new rectory. By mid June the Harry Connell house on what is now 25 Library Street was moved across the street to 30 Library Street on land purchased for that purpose from Raymond Victor Lemery. The Connell house was converted into 4 apartments which were retained by the Diocese as income for the parish. This property was later sold to help with the purchase and building of St. John’s School.
In June 1949 Rev. Robert J. Faucher came to Hudson as the first curate to work with Father John and by August the new rectory was ready for occupancy. As the basement of the rectory had an altar; daily masses could now be held. It should be noted that a part of Father John’s task was to create an atmosphere compatible to parishioners of varied backgrounds. Tragically, in August 1950 the associate pastor, Rev Faucher was killed in an auto accident. Rev. Hector Lamontagne was appointed and he would serve 10 years.
Construction continued on the church building by Brideau Construction Co of Berlin. The first Christmas Midnight Mass was held in the basement of the new church in 1949. The following Easter morning the first Mass was held in the new sanctuary. The building was dedicated December 3, 1950. In the years which followed improvements were made to the building. By 1987 a 400 pipe Felgemaker Organ (built in 1886) was installed and dedicated. In the 1990’s stained glass windows were added to the sanctuary in addition to the stained glass windows overlooking the sanctuary which was given by St. John’s Women’s Guild. In 1999 St John The Evangelist Parish celebrated 50 years of service in and to the Town of Hudson. The plan of the Diocese was to merge the Infant Jesus Parish in Nashua and the St. John’s Parish in Hudson. In 2007, with the retirement of the priests in each of these parishes, these parishes merged together as Blessed John XXIII Parish (now St. John XXIII Parish) with Monsignor Paul Bouchard serving as Pastor in both.
The photos for this week are from the Historical Society Collection. They show the Rectory and St John Evangelist Church as photographed about 1975 in preparation of The Town in Transition. My thanks to Pauline Boisvant, Leona Shanholtz, and Don Smith for helping with he background information for this article. Comments or sharing of information can be by email to HudsonHistorical.com.