Category Archives: St. Alphonsus’ church in Pottersville

THE modern ST ALPHONSUS CHURCH in GOODWILL

designed by architect Jeffrey Macclean

designed by architect Geoffrey Maclean

In this second article  on the history of the St. Alphonsus’ church,  I am heavily indebted to and grateful for the work  of  Mr. Kenneth A. Richards.  His publication “AMIDST THE SUGAR CANES”  published in 1991 is a wonderful source of history.

On August 29, 1979  Hurricane David  caused severe damage to the first St. Alphonsus’ church, which was started in December 1929 and dedicated and blessed by Bishop James Moris on October 5, 1930.    The roof was torn off, windows blown out .  Many arches, columns and walls  were severely  cracked and damaged beyond repair. The congregation moved to the downstairs of the St. Alphonsus Parish Hall for worship.

The damaged old church was demolished in 1985 and it took till May 20, 1987 before  the groundbreaking ceremony for the new church was performed by Fr. Francis Huysmans, Vicar General.

The new church was designed by a Trinidadian  architect Geoffrey Maclean   and  the engineers  were the local firm Consulting Engineering Partnership.  A scale model was prepared and put on display.  An intensive fundraising drive  was started.

The local firm L. Luke and Sons Construction  was contracted to construct the church in phases.  Shortly after the commencement of the works, Fr. Eustace Thomas left  to continue his studies and  Fr. Paul Loncke C.Ss. R.  was appointed  parish priest.   The task of building a new church fell then on his shoulders.  In this task he was ably assisted  by the Reconstruction Committee comprising of Mr. Sheridon Jno Baptiste,  Dr. Desmond McIntyre,  Mr. Jerome Robinson,  Mrs. Adwina Magloire and  Ms Molly Fontaine., Mrs. Zena Boyd and Mrs. Rona Fingal.

During the years that Fr Charles Martin was parish priest  vegetable soil from the Holy Redeemer Retreat Center in Eggleston was sourced and the area around the church was  landscaped, fenced  and planted under the supervision of the Landscaping Committee, comprising of Mr. Jerome Robinson, Mr. Milton green, Mrs Adwina Magloire, Mrs. Zena Boyd and Mrs. Rona Fingal.  During that time, the interior  church was also painted  by the late calypsonian Roland James “Spider”  under the direction of  Mrs. A. Magloire.   Due to the height of the church, this was quite a dangerous and complicated job.

All the prayers, patience , work and fund raising finally paid off when  on the second of August 1999 the new  church was solemnly   Blessed and Dedicated  to St. Alphonsus  by Bishop Edward Gilbert,  eighth  Bishop of  Roseau . Fr. Reginald La Fleur was the Parish priest at the time.

When Father, later to be Monsignor,  Reginald LaFleur became Parish Priest , he proceeded with the building of  beautiful stone walls and metal fencing around the church.

In all the work he did, he was ably assisted by the Fundraising Committee :  members :  Mrs. Jossie Stevenson, , Mr. Milton Green, Ms. Debra Grell, Ms. Stella Giddens, Mrs. Veronica Younis, Ms. Sherita Gregoire, Mrs. Carol   Abraham, Ms. Cloudette Casimir, Mrs. Joycie Alfred, Mrs. Evelyn Guye and Ms. Molly Fontaine.

When Monsignor Eustace Thomas returned to the parish, as Parish Priest,  in 2008, he was keen to enhance the liturgical space  and the surroundings of the church.   In August 2010   a new stained glass window was installed with the  crucified Christ as theme.  Sometime later , two new stained glass windows, with the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin  as themes, were added.

Recently the steps and the patio in from of the church were tiled and an entrance gate installed. Painting works of the church are ongoing presently.

The next step will be the  upgrading and development of the church grounds in front of the church . This will enhance the whole church environment.

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The history of the St. Alphonsus’ church in Pottersville

Part 1                                                                            by Bernard Lauwyck

The first St Alphonsus' church in Pottersville.jpg

The first St Alphonsus’ church in Pottersville.jpg

In 1929 the Roseau Parish had three out-stations.  THE ECCLESIASTICAL BULLETIN OF ROSEAU (EBR)  described  that “in the country districts chapels-of-ease existed at Bellevue [Chopin], Morne Prosper and Laudat.”   In Giraudel,  Holy Mass was celebrated in a “good-sized house of a planter”.  No mention was made of  Charlotteville (Newtown) , Loubiere, Trafalgar or Wotten Waven till much later.

“On account of the influx of country people to Roseau and especially the Goodwill quarter, it was decided to build a new church . To this end, Mr. Francis Potter, owner of the Goodwill estate, kindly made a grant of [ a portion of land measuring] 100 x 200 feet, to which he added somewhat later another grant  for the purpose of building a parochial school. [EBR].  This land was were located in an area called “Balahou Town” now called Pottersville.

The foundations were laid in December 1929, under the supervision of a French priest of the FMI order named Fr. Barreau. The Fils de Marie Immaculée (FMI) or Pères de Chavagne  had a proven record of building churches and schools all over Dominica.

“Under the direction of Mr. Ralph E.A. Nicholls the church was started in January 1930, rose from the ground as by magic and at the end of September it was ready to be solemnly blessed.” (EBR)

The church was rectangular with at the front an imposing flight of steps. It was described as follows : “ It has three aisles and extends from east to west 116 feet and from north to south 48 ft. The nave is marked off from the side aisles by seven elegant pillars, connected by elegant arches. Two larger, but equally graceful arches span the sanctuary, which with its two high windows and window in the middle is a marvel of beauty. : In fact, a more devotional interior it would be difficult to conceive. ”  (EBR)

It seems that the communion rail and the Stations of the Cross were also very beautiful.

The blessing , performed by Bishop James Moris, a Redemptorist, took place on October 5, 1930.  The patron saint of the church was St. Alphonsus Ligouri, the founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer or Redemptorists.   Much later did this church become the parish church of the Parish of St. Alphonsus, which was canonically established on February 2, 1954.   The parish was administered by Belgian Redemptorists Fathers for many years till the local clergy took over .

In 1957, the newly ordained local priest Kelvin Felix was posted to the parish. According to Kenneth Richards,  Fr. Felix was the one who “arranged for the old wooden windows in the church to be replaced with metal and glass windows, giving the place of worship a more lightsome appearance.” AMIDST THE SUGAR CANES- 1991- Kenneth A. Richards.

On August 29, 1979 Hurricane David caused severe damage to this almost 50 year old church. The roof was torn off, windows blown out .  Many arches and columns were cracked and damaged beyond repair.

The task of building a new church fell on the shoulders of Fr. Eustace Thomas.