150th Anniversary of Grand Falls Diocese
150th Opening Celebration Mass, Harbour Grace
December 8, 2005
Bishop Martin Currie of the Diocese of Grand Falls celebrated the Opening Mass for 150th Anniversary Celebrations at 7:00 p.m. on December 8, 2005, at Immaculate Conception Church in Harbour Grace, the original seat of the diocese.
The diocese, first known as the Diocese of Harbour Grace, was canonically established by his Holiness Pius IX in 1856 as a result of difficult travel conditions and growth in the Catholic population at the time, thus separating the diocese from St. John’s. The first bishop was Right Reverend John Dalton, D.D.
For almost one hundred years the seat of the diocese remained in Harbour Grace and a succession of bishops followed: Rt. Rev. Henry Carfagnini, D.D. (1870), Rt. Rev. Ronald MacDonald, D.D. (1881), Rt. Rev. John March, D.D. (1906), and Most Rev. John M. O’Neill, D.D. (1940) who decided that, due to the changing economic situation of the province, the seat of the diocese should be moved from Harbour Grace to Grand Falls. This occurred in 1953. Eventually, in 1958, the name of the diocese changed to the Diocese of Harbour Grace-Grand Falls and some years later, in 1965, the diocese became officially known as the Diocese of Grand Falls. It took several years for the name of the diocese to change due to a procedure that Rome has in place whereby any change has to be approved by the Holy See – a process which is sensitive to the residents of the town or city from which the name is being changed.
Since the transfer to Grand Falls, four bishops have served the diocese: Most Rev. John M. O’Neill, D.D ., who was bishop at the time of the transfer, Most Rev. Alphonsus L. Penney, D.D., Most Rev. J. Faber Macdonald, D.D., and the current bishop, Most Rev. Martin W. Currie, D.D. who has designated the period of time from December 8, 2005, to December 8, 2006, as the time to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the diocese. The date of December 8 is significant as it is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of the diocese. Priests, religious, and laity from across the diocese will come together to celebrate the Mass which will officially begin the anniversary year. During the Mass there will be a reading of the anniversary proclamation which will highlight significant events over the course of the 150 years of diocesan history. All parishes of the diocese will also be asked to have the proclamation read in their respective churches on the weekend immediately following the Opening Mass.
As the anniversary unfolds, other events will occur at significant times throughout the year, with the concluding celebration scheduled for December 8, 2006, at the site of the present Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Grand Falls-Windsor.
OPENING MASS AT HARBOUR GRACE
Bishop Currie's Homily
"It must have been a sad day for the people of Harbour Grace when Bishop O'Neill stood here and told them that, after 97 years of being the seat of the Harbour Grace RC Diocese, that seat was going to be moved to Grand Falls. That turning point in the history of the diocese took place in 1953. Bishop J. M. O'Neill, at that time, told the priests of the diocese he had no choice in moving the seat to Central Newfoundland.
Slide Show of Opening Mass Photos by Bill Bowman, Carbonear
Diocesan Shield and Motto
The motto of the Diocese of Grand Falls is "Ave, Gratia Plena" taken from Luke 1:28.
For more information on our Diocesan Shield click here!
As we now prepare to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of our Diocese in 2006, it is time now to reflect on where we are, and give thanks to God for our many blessings. As we make plans for this joyous occasion, perhaps we can be guided by the thoughts of Pope John Paul II in His Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, January 6, 2001. Pope John Paul suggested that we remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm, and look forward to the future with confidence.
As we make preparations for our 150th Anniversary, we welcome any idea you may have, both at the diocesan and parish level.