St. John's is called the mother church of two dioceses, Springfield and Worcester. Indeed it is! It was established, however, when the Diocese of Boston was the sole diocese for all New England. A native Bostonian, Father James Fitton, often named the Apostle of New England, was our founder.
Father Fitton, born 1805 (when there were only two priests in all New England!), offered "first Masses" in scores of locations throughout New England. Ordained in 1827, he served Passamaquoddy tribal members in Maine (who in later years often visited him at St John's), and he was the first Catholic to preach the Gospel in most locations in Maine, New Hampshire
and Vermont. In 1830, he was assigned to pastor those few Catholics in Hartford, and it was from there that he launched his missionary expeditions to Central Massachusetts. On July 7, 1834 Father Fitton laid the foundation for our first church building, Christ Church. The same year he founded the Seminary of Mount St. James on Pakachoag Hill, named for his patron saint. From there, the seminary boys would walk to Christ Church for Mass and the sacraments. In 1842, Father Fitton deeded that parcel over to Bishop Benedict Fenwick, who then gave it to the Society of Jesus for the establishment of the College of the Holy Cross, established in 1843.
Our current church was built in 1846 and was renamed St. John's. Father Fitton was reassigned to Providence and then to Boston where he established more parishes. He returned to Worcester often and gave the first sermon at what is now St. Paul's Cathedral in 1869. He was the first priest in New England to celebrate a Fiftieth anniversary, and did so in 1877.
Click the link below to view a chronology of Saint John's Parish from its founding to present day:
Click the link below to view a detailed history of Saint John's Parish, compiled in 1984: