Saint Eugene’s Parish in Chepachet
Saint Eugene’s Parish in Chepachet in the town of Glocester, R.I., was established on September 11th, 1956, by Bishop Russell J’. McVinney. Bishop McVinney had served the early residents 0£ the parish as an assistant at St. Patrick’s in Harrisville. Chepachet at that time was a mission of St. Patrick’s and Mass was celebrated in a hall on Route 102 across from the Chepachet Pharmacy (the hall has since been demolished) and later in the basement meeting room 0£ the town building on Main Street in the village.
At its founding, the parish’s first pastor was Father Joseph F. McCabe who was serving as an assistant at Sacred Heart Church in Pawtucket, R.I., and as director of Catholic Cemeteries for the diocese. Succeeding pastors were Fathers Ronald G. Dailey, William F.X. Harrington and Francis V. De Lellis.
Reminiscent of the earlier ties to St. Patrick’s, the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement still assist with the religious education of the children of St. Eugene’s during the school year. They, in turn, are aided by several laywomen of the parish as the number of young people increases each year.
The church building is of modern “Georgian-Colonial” design built of red brick and wood and designed to accommodate about 500 people at one time. It seems well designed to take care of the growing numbers of year-round residents as well as the increasing numbers of summer residents who are attracted by numerous lakes and ponds in Glocester, which boasts of the highest elevations in the state.
The rectory is one of the historical buildings in the town with ties to public service since its erection about the year 1840 by one of the Browns. The Browns were among the first families to settle in the town. The rectory at one time was the home of Walter Reed, United States Senator from northern Rhode Island. Later it served as a boarding house and, more recently, as a convalescent home until it was purchased by the diocese of Providence for its present use.
The story of St. Eugene’s Parish has been one of steady, slow and unspectacular progress built on a good foundation of hardy, self-reliant people who fit in well with the rugged and rocky terrain of the parish.