Diocesan records make reference to a "small wooden chapel" that was built in 1833. The chapel was known as the "Mission of Nepean" and priests from Bytown and St. Philip's Parish in Richmond, Ontario, conducted the services there.
The mission was built from logs cut in the Fallowfield area and its purpose was to serve parishioners who otherwise would have traveled a great distance by horse and wagon (or sleigh, in wintertime) to attend Sunday Mass in either Richmond or Bytown.
The wooden chapel was too small to house the growing congregation in the Fallowfield area, and visiting priests would also say Mass in the homes of parishioners that could accommodate sizable groups of people. The Houlahans and the Tierneys are but two of the many families who hosted these services.
There was no resident priest appointed to serve the community, nor was any one person or family designated to keep up the structure of the wooden chapel. Heavy snows in the winter, coupled with the fact the building was not insulated, resulted in dwindling numbers at Mass. A growing apathy towards improving or maintaining the wooden chapel resulted in its inevitable decay.
Bishop Guigues and the various priests assigned to serve the Fallowfield area stressed the need for the construction of a proper church. At that time there were 126 Catholic families living in the area, the chapel was in ruins, and no one family home could accommodate such a large group of people for Sunday Mass. The need to build a proper church was clear. However, this inevitability did not come without an obstacle: the majority of the municipal council were not Catholic, and the Catholic community itself was divided as to whether or not parishioners could support a church and a resident priest. Numerous meetings and discussions were held. Finally, a representative of the Bishop was dispatched to Fallowfield, who in turn urged the Catholics to unite and get on with the job of building the church.
The emissary was persuasive: on the 14th of July, 1834, an Indenture of bargain and sale was finalized, and two acres of land from Lot 23 for a church and cemetery were purchased from Thomas O'Meara for the sum of two shillings sixpence. Dan Fogarty, Matthew Costello, and Dennis Tierney were the first Trustees. Their names, as well as those of Father John Cullen of Bytown and the Right Reverend Alexander McDonnell of Glengarry, appear on the signed and sealed deed.
As the years passed, over seventy yards of stone and sand were delivered to the building site for the construction of the church and remained unused. Finally, during a visit to St. Philip's Parish in Richmond, Bishop Guigues stressed once again the need for construction to begin on the church in Fallowfield.
- Paul Baxter
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