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A Brief History of the Parish

Although this area was first explored in the early seventeenth century, the first Catholics to settle in this area of Cape Cod arrived in the last few decades of the nineteenth century. They were cared for first by the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Woods Hole and later St. Francis Xavier Church in Hyannis, after the latter's foundation as a parish in 1902. Mission chapels were also founded to serve the areas with smaller populations. Among these was Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel in Osterville, which was dedicated by Bishop William Stang of the newly-created Diocese of Fall River in 1905. The name of the chapel was likely taken from the patroness of the newly-founded diocese, St. Mary of the Assumption. The pastor of St. Francis at the time, Rev. Daniel Doran, and his successor, Rev. Mortimer Downing, celebrated Mass at the small chapel every other week. Due to the steady growth of the Catholic population of Osterville the building was enlarged in 1916 and again in 1926.

In 1928, Bishop Daniel Feehan established the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption and sent the Rev. Edward Killigrew as founding pastor. Our Lady of Hope mission in West Barnstable and the Catholic community in Santuit were also included as part of the new parish. Fr. Killigrew bought the rectory (now used as the offices) and surrounding land in the same year. He would oversee the growing parish through the difficult years of the Great Depression, though frequent fund-raisers and the generosity of our parishioners helped ease the burden on the young parish.


In 1938 the Rev. Thomas McLean came as our second pastor. He oversaw the building of St. Jude Chapel for the Catholics in Santuit and also established the Cenacle, staffed by the sisters of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. The sisters, whose ministry is still remembered by many in the parish and the village, served in the parish through the late 1960's.



In 1943 Rev. Walter Buckley became pastor, being followed by Rev. John Higgins in 1960. During this time the village of Centerville was separated to form the new parish of Our Lady of Victory; in 1960 the chapel of Our Lady of Hope in West Barnstable was added to that parish. Through the winter of 1960-61 the church was again enlarged, with the porch being added and the transepts built. In the years during and immediately following the Second Vatican Council, some modifications were made to the sanctuary in line with the liturgical styles of the time, while respecting the existing building fabric. In 1966 Fr. James Kenney was installed as pastor. Under him the chapel of Our Lady, Queen of All Saints was built in Popponesset in 1968. 1969 saw Fr. Clarence Murphy arriving as pastor; earlier that year the Cenacle had been closed when the sisters moved out. In 1978 the 50th anniversary of our parish was celebrated, with Bishop Daniel A. Cronin, S.T.D., celebrating a special Jubilee Mass. In 1984 the parish of Christ the King in Mashpee opened; the pastor, Rev. (now Msgr.) Ronald Tosti, had been a curate at our parish in the 1960's. Due to the location of the new parish, both of the chapels in that area, St. Jude in Santuit and Our Lady, Queen of All Saints in Popponesset, were closed since the area formerly served by them was now served by Christ the King.


In 1993 the Rev. Thomas L. Rita arrived as pastor. Soon after, Fr. Roger Nolette, O.S.B., a monk of Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham, came to live in the parish and assist with the ministerial needs there, in addition to serving as a chaplain at Cape Cod Hospital. Under Fr. Rita the church, rectory, and grounds were refurbished and beautified, with the church interior being redone in blue in honor of our patroness and the former rectory garage being extensively remodeled into our parish hall. In June of 2000 Fr. Rita was transferred to Holy Trinity parish in West Harwich, and Rev. Philip A. Davignon, formerly of St. Ann's Church in Raynham, replaced him, leading the parish into the new millennium. In August 2003 the parish celebrated its Diamond Jubilee at a Mass celebrated by Bishop George W. Coleman just a few weeks after his ordination as the seventh bishop of Fall River. The Mass was concelebrated by several priests who had connections to the parish, with Fr. Rita returning as homilist. In July 2005 the centennial of the coming of the Catholic Church to Osterville was celebrated, marking 100 years since the little mission chapel had been dedicated in 1905. The parish mourned the passing of Fr. Nolette in September 2006. During these last several years the parish has had as parochial vicars Fr. Pawel Swiercz and Fr. Andrew Johnson. 

In 2012, shortly after celebrating his 50th anniversary of ordination, Fr. Davignon retired. He was replaced by Fr. Mark R. Hession. Fr. Hession, ordained in 1984, grew up in Fairhaven. Bishop da Cunha appointed Rev. John J. Perry pastor of both Our Lady of the Assumption and Our Lady of Victory in Centerville in 2014. Rev. Gregory A. Mathias was appointed pastor in 2021 after Fr. Perry's untimely passing in 2020.

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