St Patrick’s Church, sold as part of the fundraising process to compensate victims of sexual abuse, will hold its last liturgy on Sunday

ST. JOHN’S, NL — Nearly a month after St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in St. John’s celebrated its 141st anniversary, it plans to hold its closing liturgy on Sunday, September 25.

The church was sold to help pay compensation claims that include early victims of sexual abuse by Christian brothers at the Mount Cashel orphanage.

As has been the case with the sale of other churches and properties that fall under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s, those who have had an attachment to the parish and the building have expressed their disappointment, anger and also shared memories on social media. Generations of families have had their baptisms, confirmations, first communions, funerals and weddings here.

And many families donated to the church, both money and items.

Gerard Brownrigg’s grandparents donated one of the stained glass windows. He wonders what will happen to the window now that the church is sold.

“I don’t live in St. John’s and wasn’t born there, but my dad was born and raised on Patrick Street. He was the youngest child of Henry and Catherine Brownrigg,” Gerard said.

“I have visited St. John’s many times and visited the church many times. My grandfather was a businessman in St. John’s and at one time was Minister of Finance for the Dominion of Newfoundland. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the gift of the stained glass window. I know that a substantial monetary donation accompanied the window.

St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in downtown St. John’s will close after its last service on Sunday. It was sold to help compensate victims of sexual abuse. – Glen Whiffen/The Telegram

“I hope that if the new owner decides to renovate the building, rather than destroying the window, he will contact me so that I can recover it. I was informed that the building is a National Historic Site and they may not be allowed to destroy it.

St. Patrick’s Church was designated a historic place by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1990 due to its history and Gothic Revival style design.

Plans for the construction of the church were drawn up in 1853 but construction was not completed until 1881. The bell tower and spire were added between 1912-14.


“I have visited St. John’s many times and visited the church many times. My grandfather was a businessman in St. John’s and at one time was Minister of Finance for the Dominion of Newfoundland. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the gift of the stained glass window. I know that a substantial monetary donation accompanied the window. I hope that if the new owner decides to renovate the building, rather than destroying the window, he will contact me so that I can recover it. I was informed that the building is a National Historic Site and they may not be allowed to destroy it.


On social media sites, parishioners and former parish members expressed their disappointment at the loss of the church and recalled the special family events that took place there.

From altar service to weddings, church was a big part of life for a number of families.

In an August 21 parish bulletin, parishioners were told there were to be a number of items available for anyone who wanted a memento to remember the church.

The St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church building in downtown St. John's was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990 because of its example of a Gothic Revival style structure.  - Glen Whiffen/The Telegram
The St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church building in downtown St. John’s was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990 because of its example of a Gothic Revival style structure. – Glen Whiffen/The Telegram

“As we work to clean up St. Patrick’s Church, office and home, there are many small items that we need to part with (books, small pictures, decorations, religious items, etc.)” , says the bulletin.

“They will be free. Some of you have asked for a memento from the parish and this may be an opportunity to pick up something to remember St. Patrick’s Day.

The number of regular parishioners at St. Patricks, as at many churches, has declined in recent times. Members of St. Patrick Parish are now expected to become members of St. John the Baptist Basilica Parish.

Martha J. Finley