Picture of St. Francis Church today on Union Street in North Adams Massachusetts. Picture Taken by J. McNary on March 31, 2008.
There is one following that holds people together in the worst times of their lives, religion. Immigrants moving to America soon found this out. As the Irish fled from a land that seemed to be cursed, they found hope in God’s word as they crossed the seas. In an effort to bind together in uncertain times, the Irish Catholic in the town of North Adams started religious services. This simple act would turn into one of the oldest churches in the town.
The first reverend to pave the way for Catholic services for the Irish in North Adams was Rev. John O’Callahan. He was a traveling reverend who had happened upon North Adams while traveling all over the Berkshires and its surrounding areas. This “Catholic Johnny Appleseed” held the first mass in 1848. Twelve people attended this mass but in the years following that number would grow.
In 1856, enough people had come to the services that the parish could now afford to buy their own building. This building was located on Center Street and was used until 1869. In 1862 the parish had been taken over by a new reverend. Charles E. Lynch. Rev. Lynch then bought a piece of land at what was then the corner of Union and Eagle Street, but after the area of the town was surveyed, it is now located solely on Union Street.
This land was used to build a home for St. Francis Church, which still stands to this day. St. Francis Church was the first place for Roman Catholics to worship in North Adams. The church was lead by Father Lynch until 1883 when he was laid to rest in the church’s yard. His grave, though at one point moved, remains there today.
St. Francis celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1987.