ST. ANDREW CHURCH
Father McCabe organized the few faithful in the Dublin section of Colchester to build their own church in their little Irish settlement. On October 29, 1854, John English and John Murphy bought a half acre of land on Exeter Road, now known as Windham Avenue for $200. This land was to be held in trust for the Catholics here as a site for a church and a rectory. Construction of the church soon began, and a building, 46 x 23 feet, was completed the following year, not, however without great difficulties. There was a faction in the town at that which did not want to see a Catholic church here. Therefore, little progress made by the men on the building during the day would be torn down by this intolerant group. It became necessary for the men to stand guard over the construction site throughout the night to preserve the work that had been completed.
On May 19th, 1860, the title for the church site was transferred to Bishop Francis McFarland. The property was later returned to St. Andrew church on October 22, 1934, through the estate of Bishop McFarland.
On the 25th of October 1860, St. Andrew became an independent parish with its own pastor, Rev. Patrick Creighton. Father Creighton was a Jesuit priest of the Hartford Diocesan clergy. He not only ministered to the care and welfare of the Catholics of Colchester, but also to those in the seven out-missions which came under the jurisdiction of St. Andrew at that time. These were Moodus, East Hampton, Lebanon (Bozrahville), Salem, Fitchville, Gilead, and a small part of the town of Glastonbury.
On December 7, 1865 St. Andrew Church was dedicated and the cornerstone was laid.
By the late 1950's, many new people sought out the little church of St. Andrew as their spiritual sanctuary. It was beginning to be filled beyond capacity. Rev Edmund Barrett, then pastor of St. Andrew, purchased 6 1/2 acres of land on Norwich Avenue from William Daly for $9,500.
The parish center was given priority in the building schedule. The center could be used as a place of worship on Sundays, holy days and it could serve for many other functions throughout the year. The new parish center was dedicated on August 26, 1962. In 1963 Rev. Walter Kloczko replaced Rev. Barrett as pastor. Father Kloczko established a Building Fund Appeal on March 5, 1965 with a minimum goal of $200,000 and a maximum need of $500,000 for the new church and rectory. On March 27, 1966 ground was broken and construction was started for the new church and rectory. Construction having been completed on March 12, 1967, an open house was held for public viewing. On May 21, 1967, the church was officially dedicated.
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI CHURCH HISTORY
The history of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish begins in the winter of 1780 during the Revolutionary War, with Mass being celebrated for the encampment on the Green of the French troops of the Duc de Lauzun.
Between the years of 1860 - 1867, many Irish immigrants found employment at the local mills resulting in the formation of Saint Mary's Mission (Lebanon's 1st Catholic Church), under the care of Saint Andrew Church in Colchester. With the closing of the mills and the loss of employment, Saint Mary's was forced to close in the early 1920's, and area Catholics had to attend Mass in Fitchville, Colchester, Norwich, and Willimantic.
Over the next twenty years, as more Catholic families moved into the area, and with the onset of the difficulty in purchasing gasoline due to the World War, the need to have a Church closer to home was evident. On August 22, 1943, the people of Saint Francis of Assisi Mission Church (Lebanon's 2nd Catholic Church, still under the pastoral care of Saint Andrew Church in Colchester), celebrated their first Mass in their new Church on the Lebanon Green. In 1962, pastoral care of Lebanon was passed on to St. Columba Parish in Columbia.
Through hard work and dedication the present Saint Francis of Assisi Church (Lebanon's 3rd Catholic Church) was built on West Town Street. Still on the historic Lebanon Green and no longer a mission church, its dedication and blessing was held on May 18, 1980.
Today Saint Francis of Assisi is a growing parish, serving at least 800 families, with three weekend Masses, where all people are welcome to come together to celebrate Mass and renew their faith.
Guardian Angels Parish
On July 1, 2021, both parishes of St. Andrew in Colchester and St. Francis of Assisi in Lebanon were dissolved, or closed, in order to form the new Canonical Parish of the Guardian Angels. By taking into account the histories and personalities of both former parishes, we have been united to form Guardian Angels Parish in Colchester, CT
Our history as a new parish is just beginning. Together, guided by the Holy Spirit, we will produce our own history rich with experiences and many memories.
There is a new horizon that needs to be explored. Together as a new family of faith, we will explore all the Lord has in store for us.