HISTORY OF SAINT ANDREW CHURCH
Rev. Christopher Moore of the Falls Village section of Danielson came to Colchester to offer the first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The date is uncertain, but is believed to have been in 1851. There was no church here then for the Catholic population, Colchester being predominantly Protestant since it's incorporation in 1698, but there were about fifty Irish Catholics who welcomed Father Moore that day. As near as can be determined, Mass was held in the home of John Murphy, who along with Patrick Garland, Patrick Henry, Thomas Sheridan, John English, John Kelleher and their families, were some of the first settlers of Irish birth to arrive here. Having been driven to the shores of America in the late 1840's by the ravages of famine in their mother country, they came here seeking survival. In response to the increased demand for labor at the Nathaniel Hayward Rubber Company, the Irish immigrants were drawn into the Colchester area. The rubber company had representatives at Ellis Island in New York for that specific purpose. Hard working people, they welcomed the opportunity to labor in the mill, support their families, and perhaps bring other relatives over to the land of "good and plenty".
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.
In August of 1873, a new pastor came to serve St. Andrew Church; Rev. Patrick Fay. Father Fay had a particular regard for the young people of the parish and desired uppermost that they all receive their education in a Catholic school. In the summer of 1874, construction began on a school building which was to be located just 125 feet north of the church. It was known as Dublin School and had 130 students enrolled and three lay teachers who were salaried by the town. The closing of the Colchester Rubber Company and the subsequent fire which destroyed it left Colchester with little or no industry base. School enrollment dropped dramatically after this and in 1915 Dublin School was leased to the town as a public school until 1936 when a new public grammar school was built on Norwich Ave.
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.
GUARDIAN ANGELS PARISH
128 NORWICH AVENUE