Our Lady of Good Hope Church's History


     Before 1909, Camden was a mission without a church building. Only four or five regular resident parishioners formed the nucleus of this mission: namely, the Doughertys, the Clancys, the McGraths and the McDonalds. This small Camden flock held services in the Opera House, in the living room of Daniel A. Dougherty or in the homes of other mission families. Since there was no church building and no pastor, the pastor of St. Bernard's in Rockland made the 10 mile trek from Rockland to Camden to say Mass and to tend to the mission flock.

     The summer colony in Camden in the early 1900s was steadily growing. This meant more Catholic families and a need for larger space. By 1908 the need for a mission chapel in Camden became absolutely apparent. In 1908, Fr. James Flynn was named as the new pastor of St. Bernard's. He was a man of God with untiring zeal for his community. Fr. Flynn planned the construction of the mission church. However, it is said that the new mission church would not have been built if it hadn't been for Mary Molloy.

     Mary Molloy was a well-educated immigrant from Ireland. She first came to the states around 1880 at age 18 or 19, to work for Mr. and Mrs. Albert H. Chatfield as a domestic. The Chatfields had their winter residence in Cincinnati and their summer residence in Camden. Before the turn of the century, Mrs. Chatfield asked Mary if she would agree to serve the family during summers in Camden. Mary replied that she would on the condition that she and the other Catholic servants would be allowed to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. This condition was agreed to. The only Catholic Church in the area was St. Bernard's. Thus in keeping with the agreement, the coachman was to harness the horse and drive the Catholics to Mass. This meant, of course, that the services of the help to the family and guests were lost for about three hours on a Sunday morning.

     After several summers of these arrangements, Mrs. Chatfield asked Mary, "Why don't you Catholics have a church in Camden?" Mary replied, "There is no money." It is said that Mrs. Chatfield reflected upon this difficulty for a short while. She then contacted many of her wealthy friends and requested donations to build a Catholic Church in Camden. Mary Molloy devoted herself tirelessly and painstakingly to the task of raising funds for the building of a church.

     Backed by the faithful and loyal pioneer Catholic families, the very generous financial support of the Chatfields and the summer colony, the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Hope began to take shape. In 1909, the architectural firm of F. W Cunningham and Sons, of Portland designed the structure in the gothic manner. The church was designed for a capacity of 250 people with a choir loft that could accommodate 50 more. The structure was completed in September 1909 at a cost of $5,544, of which $4,000 was borrowed. Local Catholic men and their friends, at Mary's request, provided the labor.

     Mary Molloy did not live to see the church completed. She died in Cincinnati. The Chatfields bought the first altar and the Holy Water Baptismal Font in memory of Mary Molloy. The first altar was carved of black walnut. The lining within the Tabernacle was silk and made by Mrs. Chatfield. The altar is now in the Mission Church on North Haven. Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church was dedicated on July 30, 1911 with the first service; a high requiem mass for Mary Molloy. In addition to donating the first altar, Mrs. Chatfield researched and personally made the original set of garments the priest wore at Mass.

     THE CHURCH GROWS 1916-1940

     Another energetic woman by the name of Kate Donovan began a campaign to raise money for the Stations of the Cross. A total of $267 was raised and the church was able to obtain the Stations, which are still on the walls. Bishop John G. Murray of Portland blessed the Stations in 1926.

     By the 1930's the size of the mission in Camden had grown from the original families to almost 83 families. This growth unfortunately coincided with the death of Fr. Flynn in 1939. The Bishop appointed a new pastor to Rockland and the mission church of Camden. Father James F. Savage, who served from 1940-48, increased the number of Masses on Sunday, added the first Friday of each month and had public stations during Lent.

     The war brought changes as well. Fuel was in short supply and often the services were held again in parishioners' homes so the church would not have to be heated. Catechism classes met in Pauline Duffy's home on Chestnut Street during the week to save on heating. The Sisters of Atonement came from Rockland to prepare the children.

     In the 1940's the ladies of the mission church incorporated a Sodality of Our Lady, which included about 30 women. The men of the parish joined together to become the labor force removing the dirt and rock from below the church to have a meeting hall and a kitchen. The news photo of the day showed a smiling but weary group of diggers including Jack McAuliffe, Warren Prince, Vincent Nuccio, Domenico Leo, Charles Kybo, Alfred Laliberte, Jack Paulkner, Bernard LaBarge, Bunny Young, Norman Beloin, Arthur Dougherty and William Connell. The costs were paid by a large supper and Beano at the Megunticook Grange Hall.

     The 1950's showed 100 families were now a part of the parish. And on July 1, 1967 the Most Rev. Peter Gerety, Bishop of Portland declared Our Lady of Good Hope a parish. The parish was to include the towns of Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, Union, Hope, Appleton, and the islands of North Haven and Vinalhaven. Our first full time pastor was Fr. Arthur H. St. Pierre.

     Bert Deraps, John Sanford, Robert Hall, and Leo Berube put in a new ceiling in the basement hall and Mr. McClure worked on the sheet rock taping and smoothing the seams. The ladies of the parish chose paneling and the Knights of Columbus did the task. During the 1970's oil shortage, additional insulation was put in. The heat was still not used during the week.

     The need for a family center and classrooms brought about yet more changes. The family center was built connecting the rectory to the church. Along with this the basement of the church would be enlarged for classrooms and because of this, the church had to be raised 18 inches. This all happened between the Fall of 1989 and Winter of 1992. Our Lady of Good Hope now has expanded sufficiently to serve us all. Presently there are around 450 families in our parish.

Pastors/Administrators:
Rev. Fr. Arthur St. Pierre1967-1972
Rev. Fr. Donald Proulx1972-1974
Rev. Fr. Norman Cormier1974-1978
Rev. Fr. Daniel Pollard1978-1985
Rev. Fr. Richard Rice1985-1992
Rev. Fr. Gerard Gosselin1992-1997
Rev. Fr. Eugene Gaffey1997-2003
Rev. Fr. Arthur Pechillo2003-2007
Rev. Fr. Mark Reinhardt2007-2012
Rev. Fr. Richard Malo2012-2016
Rev. Fr. Robert Vaillancourt2016-Present