The late Bishop Most Reverend Walter W. Curtis had the pastoral idea that smaller parishes would better serve the people. Bishop Curtis announced the establishment of the new parish April 23, 1982, effective on the vigil of Pentecost, May 29, 1982. Father John B. Hossan was named its first pastor. In accord with the bishop’s request, an ad hoc committee of 10 parishioners met to recommend a patron and title for the parish. St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, a North American pioneer and educator, was selected as patroness by the bishop and the parish was inaugurated on Pentecost weekend, May 29, 1982. Since there was no church building, the pastor and parishioners were struggling to find a place to say Mass. Masses had to be cancelled for the first several weekends since there was “no room in the inn.”
The first actual parish gathering was held on June 2, 1982 at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Donald Perley with 30 people present. It was decided that weekend Masses would be held in parishioners’ homes, a weekly newsletter would be published, and regular gatherings would be held for bonding and communication.
In June 1982, the house at 60 Candlewood Lake Road was purchased and used as the priest residence and office. Beginning July 3, 1982 the weekend Masses were held at the Fine Arts Theatre at the Caldor Shopping Center. Each week, the movie house had to be transformed into a worship environment, where Masses were said amid the aroma of popcorn.
Beginning in September 1982, the parish celebrated its weekend Masses at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School. Though not a church, the school setting was intimate and fostered a spirit of community and bondedness.
From its start, Faith Formation and Evangelization were priorities of the parish. The instruction for children took place at the homes of the catechists. Social gatherings were nourished and several social events were held which brought the community together and provided some seed funds for the building project anticipated. Prominent among these are the 50’s dance in January 1983, a pancake breakfast in November 1983 and the Las Vegas Night in October 1985. In February 1984, the 9.2 acre site on the corner of Candlewood Lake Road and Forty Acre Mountain Road was purchased by the diocese for St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Church. In the same month, the building and planning committee began its work. The committee met with the architect, Kosinski Architecture of New Haven, to design a building which invites people to worship our Lord with warmth, participation, and community feeling. Successful fundraising was mounted by Development Design Inc. and in April 1984, the goal was achieved and the project moved ahead.
A core group of parishioners cleared the site of trees on March 3, 1985, and Bishop Curtis turned the first shovel of dirt for the construction of the church. Brennan Construction of Shelton started the construction in August 1985. The church interior was designed by Rotgers Church Interiors of Rockaway, NJ. Finally, the church was ready for use in July 1986, and the First Mass was celebrated on July 19, 1986.
The history of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish is a story of people. It is the tale of hundreds of people who prayed, worked together as pioneers of the parish, from its beginning to its new form. It is the account of volunteers, catechists, committee workers, census callers, driver captains, musicians, altar transporters, secretaries, liturgical ministers, and all who contributed to the health and warmth of this community.