(This is a six part series leading up to January 6, the Feast Day of Saint Andre Bessette, the patron of our parish community.)
The Downtown Chapel began in 1919 as an outreach to sailors returning from World War I. The original Catholic worship space provided sacraments and the basics of life to men who were struggling to find work and a way back into civilian life.
In 1943, the Downtown Chapel became a parish of the Archdiocese of Portland. The new name was Saint Vincent de Paul Church. The two names remained as the identity of the parish even in the many physical moves of the church. Today, we are housed in the fifth location of the parish worship space.
The two names of the parish remained confusing for many people. Many people did not know that the Downtown Chapel was a Catholic community. The name Saint Vincent de Paul was confused with the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
In January 2011, the Archdiocese of Portland changed the name of the parish to, “Saint Andre Bessette Church.” This was at the request of the new pastor, Father Steve Newton, CSC. This was in honor of Brother Andre being canonized a saint in the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday, October 17, 2010.
Since that time, we have been gradually using the new name of the parish. This week in celebration of Saint Andre’s Feast Day, we will promote the new name to all of our parishioners and community partners.
In the past several years, we have remodeled the worship space and the exterior of the building. The new exterior sign will be installed in a couple of months. This photo shows the remodeling process from several years ago, but is still an image of our renaming our parish community, “Saint Andre Bessette Catholic Church.”