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History of St. James' church, Wellington.

The Wellington section of Medford during its early days and while its residents were somewhat scattered, had been a part of the Immaculate Conception parish of Malden. Soon, however, with the Wellington farm and the other farms in that section being cut up into house lots, and residences springing up very rapidly, the Catholic population increased in numbers in the district, and with the growth in numbers grew the desire and wish that they might have a Catholic church in their midst, and some good priest to administer to the spiritual needs of those grown to manhood and womanhood, as well as the young minds, the future manhood and womanhood of the district.

The wishes and desires of the people were being carefully considered by Cardinal O'Connell in his solicitation for the flock in his charge. Early in December, 1919, the good news came that His Eminence, the Cardinal, had appointed the Rev. John J. O'Donnell, who had been attached to St. Patrick's, Watertown, Mass., as a curate for a number of years, to be the first pastor of a [p. 87] new parish in the Wellington-Glenwood section of Medford.

A committee of men from the new parish met Father O'Donnell early in December and arranged with him to secure the Wellington club house for services on Sunday, and on Sunday, December 21, 1919, mass was celebrated by Rev. Father O'Donnell for the first time in the club house of the Wellington Improvement Association at Wellington.

The new pastor arranged that two masses would be celebrated each Sunday, one at 9.00 A. M. and one at 11.00 A. M., with Sunday school for the children of the parish in the Wellington club house each Sunday afternoon until arrangements could be made for a temporary church.

At the first services held in the Wellington club house every available inch of space was occupied, and this continued to be the case on each succeeding Sunday.

In a few weeks Father O'Donnell arranged to have mass celebrated each Sunday in the Glenwood section in the fire-house on Spring street. This necessitated, of course, that Father O'Donnell secure another priest, and this was arranged by having a Redemptorist father come from Roxbury, Mass., each Sunday, Father O'Donnell and the Redemptorist father alternating each Sunday between the Wellington club house and the Spring street fire-house.

Early in January, after carefully looking over his parish and the available land, Father O'Donnell purchased the land fronting on the Fellsway and running along Fourth street to Bradbury avenue, and at once arranged for a temporary building that might be used for church purposes until a permanent and suitable church could be erected. The Knights of Columbus' hospital hut at Parker hill, Roxbury, which had been used for war purposes during the World War was secured, taken down and moved to Wellington, re-erected, and the first mass was said in this building in the latter part of May, in 1920. [p. 88]

With land secured, a temporary church erected, plans were rapidly forming looking forward to the hoped-for future day when a permanent church would be erected.

In June, 1920, Rev. Ralph W. Farrell was appointed curate to assist Father O'Donnell.

Father O'Donnell labored for almost six years among the people of Wellington and Glenwood, and sincere regret was felt when in September, 1925, he was rewarded for his faithful work by being made pastor of St. Anne's church, Neponset, Mass.

On September 8, 1925, a new pastor came to Wellington to take Father O'Donnell's place—Rev. Dennis F. Murphy, who had been for many years assistant pastor at St. Paul's, Cambridge. Father Murphy at once took up the reins and made plans looking to a start on the new church in the spring of 1926.

The ground for the new church was broken in the early spring of 1926, and at once the corner at the Fellsway and Fourth street became the scene of activity.

The corner-stone of the new church was laid by the pastor, Rev. Dennis F. Murphy, on May 22, 1927, assisted by Father John H. Powers, who in the meantime had been appointed curate in place of Father Farrell, who was removed to Hudson, Mass.

On September 19, 1927, Father Powers having been transferred, the Rev. John Connors was sent as curate to assist Father Murphy.

The church is of the Old English style, a handsome brick edifice, and will be completed and ready for occupancy on December 25, 1927. The parish has a valuable piece of property with the church at the corner of the Fellsway and Fourth street. To this will no doubt be added in the very near future a rectory for the priests of the parish. The property is situated facing directly on the Fellsway and certainly very much improves and adds to the appearance of the district.


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