St Vincent’s is going strong after 70 years
At the end of World War II, several West Concord families asked that a Catholic parish be started in town. Their wish was granted and in March of 1945, the first mass for a West Concord Catholic parish was held in a storefront on Main St. known as the Shuster building.
Parishioner Jerry Meyers said he remembers riding in an old 1930 Chevy to church in Claremont before the West Concord parish was established. It was a four-door car and the family also used it to haul milk to the Northfield Condensery.
He said the first mass was a “big deal.” It was at 10 a.m. March 4, 1945, and Father George Smith officiated.
After the church was established in the storefront, “then we really had to go to work,” said Magdalen Hutton, who remembers the hard work the parishioners put into raising enough money to build the church.
She remembers dinners held at the downtown storefront when so many people came, they ran out of food.
Parishioner Edna Meyer – Jerry’s aunt - remembers Christmas bazaars where handmade ornaments were sold, and summer auctions where chicken dinners were served.
Parishioner Theresa Van Zuilen had just moved to town when the storefront church first opened and she remembers sitting with her young son on the rickety chairs. Her family used to attend a different church where children were kept in the nursery during the service and her little one had a hard time sitting still for the whole service, she reminisced.
A church for the congregation of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church was built after about seven years and Father W. D. Sullivan offered mass for the first time in the new building June 1, 1952. It is located at 310 Clyde St.
Parishioners helped with the building; men from the parish dug the tile lines around the foundation, said Jerry.
It was a wet, muddy site, said parishioner Ed Smith. Ed’s dad, Leo was the brother of Father George.