Saint Monica's 1901-2007
Set back in the quiet little town of Wales, Massachusetts this little church holds such honorable memories for so many. Each day I am blessed to hear the stories of this small church. I am heartfelt when a couple enters and reflects on the day they were married here or where they sat as children growing up attending church here. I feel blessed when one enters and expresses how “peaceful” they feel when they enter. The Spirit of this little church shall last forever.
Father Thomas O’Keefe acquired the land on March 6, 1901 from Edward and Sarah Loudon for the sum of $1.00. Built in 1901 by Timothy J. Hynes of Wales, both Protestants and Catholics worked to fund the building of the church. It is claimed that more than half the money to build the church came from non Catholics. Donors names remain proudly displayed on beautiful stained glass windows today.
In 1931 a second parcel of land , The Shawville Mill site, was purchased by Father O’Keefe for the sum of $60.00. That same year Father O’Keefe purchased, dismantled and transported the Madonna Chapel from Monson, Massachusetts, to Wales where it was reassembled to become the south wing of St. Monica’s.
This little church was the center of religious activity for Catholics from Brimfield, Holland and Wales for nearly 108 years. Baptisms, First Communions and Marriages were celebrated there, as well as Catechism classes. “Legend has it that the first women baptized in St. Monica’s was also the first person buried there having died in childbirth.”
On September 7,2008 the formal closing of St. Monica’s Mission Church was held. The service was celebrated by Father Jeddie Brooks and
co-celebrated by Father Eugene Plasse and Father Roy Duquette.
Fr. Brooks emphasized the “faith of the people” and individual and collective “memory boxes” whereby St. Monica’s will not be lost in time, but remain in our collective memories.