About Our Parish
The Roman Catholic Parish of St. Monica, founded in 1917, is a suburban archdiocesan parish located in Methuen, Massachusetts. The parish is a multi-ethnic, socially, culturally, and educationally diverse faith community.
In 1725 pioneers came to this area of the Merrimack River and established the town of Methuen, just ten miles upstream from the town of Haverhill. The settlers named the town Methuen, in honor of Lord Paul Methuen of England. Catholics began to move into the area. By 1840 the growth of the mills attracted many newcomers to the town. Even with the growth, Lawrence, a nearby town that was formed some 70 years after Methuen, had quickly grown much larger than Methuen. Being the larger of the towns in the area, in 1845 St. Mary's Catholic Church was established there. Catholics of Methuen practiced their faith at the St. Mary's in Lawrence.
As Methuen continued to grow, the Most Reverend John Bernard Fitzpatrick, then Bishop of Boston, purchased land in 1846 in Methuen in preparation for the eventual building of a Catholic Church in Methuen. It would be 50 more years before Father McCranor, a curate of St. Mary's in Lawrence, began to formulate plans for a Catholic Church in Methuen, which would be located at the corner of Park Street and Broadway. The construction of the church was completed in 1897, at a cost of $16,000. Methuen finally had its first Catholic Church, dedicated to St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. St. Monica Church was dedicated on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1897.
For more than 20 years St. Monica's was a mission church of St. Mary's in Lawrence. Curates from St. Mary's went to St. Monica's to hear confessions and celebrate Mass on Sundays. Over the years Methuen continued to grow, and in 1917 members felt the need for St. Monica's to be a parish of its own, and have its own Pastor. In July of that same year a committee petitioned His Eminence, William Cardinal O'Connell, to make St. Monica its own Parish. In that same month Cardinal O'Connell declared St. Monica a Parish, and assigned Rev. James J. Farrelly as Administrator and resident Priest for the new parish. Finally, in 1917, St. Monica's was its own parish. And then, two years later in 1919 Father Farrelly was appointed the first Pastor of St. Monica's Parish.
In October of 1957, ground breaking ceremonies were held for the construction of St. Monica School, a school dedicated to kindergarten through the 8th grade. The school opened in September of 1959 under the direction of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The school was located at 212 Lawrence Street, a short distance form the original St. Monica Church.
As the population of Methuen continued to grow and the number of parishioners also grew, and as the original church aged over the years, there was an increasing need for a more modern and larger church to support the needs of the parish. In 1997 the present St. Monica's Church was dedicated at the same site as the school, 212 Lawrence Street.
St. Monica was born in 333 in North Africa, and died near Rome in 387. Not much is known of her childhood. She was married early in life to Patritius. He was a pagan, though like so many of that period, his religion was no more than a name. He had a violent temper, drank much, and was unfaithful to his wife. With this, Monica's married life was not a very happy one; and it was made more difficult as Patritius's mother lived with them, and she had a similar disposition to that of her son. There were many difficulties between Monica and her husband. Monica's good works of charity for the many, and her life of prayer annoyed him; but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica's attention to her prayer life, and her patience eventually made a huge difference in the life of both her husband and mother-in-law as both eventually converted to Christianity.
Monica's son Augustine was an immense challenge for her. For years he lived an immoral life, indulging in a free and loose lifestyle, taking a woman as companion and having a son out of wedlock, while also practicing a pagan philosophy condemned by the Church. Monica constantly prayed for Augustine's conversion, to the point of annoying Augustine with her presence in his life. As his mother insisted on staying very close to Augustine, he fled to Rome and then to Milan to be free of her. But Monica, a very determined and patient woman of faith, followed her son and, after 17 years of constant prayer, she saw her son Augustine baptized into the Church in 387. St. Monica became ill and soon died after this, feeling she had completed her calling in life. From Augustine's writings it is clear that mother and son shared some beautiful time after Augustine's conversion, sharing about their faith, and the hoped for life to come. St. Monica's feast is celebrated on August 27.
About Our Parish
Being deeply committed to Jesus Christ, we always endeavor to be a unified community of faith, worship, and service. We strive to be a warm, welcoming and caring parish in which the gifts and talents of all, young and old, are recognized and graciously used to nourish others.