A BRIEF HISTORY OF ST. MARY OF THE PRESENTATION
The first priest to make regular visits to Chesterville was the Reverend J. Clarke about the year 1835. In 1846 St. Mary's Chesterville was made a mission under the jurisdiction of St. Mary's Church in Morrisburg. In 1851 the church in Chesterville was constructed of local limestone in a type of archtecture known as Gothic Revival. The parish at Chesterville was dedicated to St. Mary of the Presentation.
When Bishop J. V. Cleary visited Morrisburg in 1882, he found three churches far apart, in Morrisburg, Matilda and Chesterville. There was also a station in Iroquois without a church. Bishop Cleary divided the Morrisburg mission and made St. Mary's in Chesterville an independent parish on July 24, 1882 and named Reverand Terrance Fitpatrick to be St. Mary's first Parish Priest.
Father Fitzpatrick was instructed to build a rectory which the parishioners in consultaton had agreed to purchase. The rectory was built in 1883.
A vestry and sanctuary were added to the church and completed on Ascension Thursday May 19 1898.
In 1903, St. Mary's Catholic School was built across the road from the church and rectory. The school, a red brick building, consisted of two large classrooms and a parish hall upstairs.
Duriing Revererend J.P. Fleming's pastorate, from 1903 to 1915, an addition to the rectory was built facing Church Street with a mix of architectural styles. Reverend Fleming also secured four Sisters of Providence from Kingston to teach in St. Mary's School. On September 2, 1907 the sisters arrived in Chesterville and two of them began to take care of the school. A large and comfortable residence across from the church was purchased and the home was remodelled as a convent for the Sisters of Providence. The sisters moved into their new convent on September 4, 1919.
In 1924, lightning struck the church tower and the bell "Patrick" was cracked. It was replaced by a new bell, which was baptized "Louis" after the patron of the pastor.
In observance of the centennial of it's construction, the church was completely renovated in 1951. The church tower at the front of the building was extended by adding two areas on either side, and a new side entrance was created. The stone used for the addition was quarried at the same time as the stone for the original structure. In the resulting newly enlarged vestibule, windows were installed one dedicated to the memory of Fr. P.J. Kearney and another above the main entrance to mark the centennial.
In 1966, the interior of the church was redecorated and remodelled to adapt it to the new liturgical norms of the Second Vatican Council.
In the early 1970's, the exterior of the church was painted and the tower completely renovated. In the fall of 1976 the interior of the church underwent many changes. The church was painted and a carpet was installed in the church and vestry.
In 1982, St. Mary's celebrated it's centennial as an independent parish.Two significant events marked this occasion. A short history of the parish was published and a parish hall was erected.
In 2005, St. Daniel the Martyr Church in South Mountain became a mission of St. Mary's.
St. Mary's celebrated the 155th anniversary of the construction of the church in 2006 and the renovation of the beautiful stained glass windows was initiated.
In 2011, the parish celebrated the 160th anniversary of the establishment of the parish and construction of the church. The year was dedicated to spiritual renewal, responding to the invitation to follow Christ through an active life of prayer and friendship with God. The theme for the celebration was "Come, follow me." (MK 1:17)
In 2014 a necessary and very major renovation began at St. Mary's. The floors were opened up, ductwork and soil removed, existing beams levelled and extra support beams installed lengthwise. The floors were levelled and closed up. New ductwork was installed to replace rotting ducts and those covered with asbestos. New duct was added in the sacristy. Paper wallboard in the entryway and up to the choir loft was removed, strapping was done and spray foam insulation was applied to the walls with new wallboard installed. Paper ceiling tiles were removed from the entryway and under the choir loft (inside the nave of the church) and new wallboard was installed. New trim and crown moulding was installed in the entryway & choir loft. A new door into the nave of the church from the entryway was installed. The entire church was painted and new carpet in the church and sacristy, hardwood in the sanctuary and tile in the entryway was installed. With an initial donation from students from Mary Catholic School, the project was completed entirely funded by donations. As always, the members of St. Mary's Helping Hands worked very hard at fundraising and donated the proceeds. Our parishioners donated throughout the process and the first phase of the required work has been completed. During the renovatons, daily masses were held in the Parish Hall and Sunday masses were held in St. Mary's Catholic School.