History of St. Augustin's Church
HISTORY OF THE PARISH
St. Augustin's Catholic Church
Walking into the unpretentious interior of St. Augustin's Church is a quiet, gentle experience not unlike our history. Our church grew simply, out of a need to accommodate Newport's growing Catholic population. In May, 1911, St. Mary's Church on Spring Street was crowded. There were 500 first communicants which made it clear to the townspeople that we truly needed another church. Plans began.
As the new church cornerstone was proudly laid at Carroll and Harrison Avenue, parishioners wasted no time. Time, energy, talent, and treasure were generously donated for our hopeful project. Bazaars, fairs and picnics generated funds from 1911 until 1945. In the first year alone, we raised $8300. Salad suppers in 1913 fed as many as 1600 people per evening. Mass was held at Hibernian Hall for over a year as the new St. Augustin's Church was built. Many parishoners participated in the construction work themselves.
We moved into our brand, new home, and became part of the larger Catholic Community. In April 1916, we joined with all churches to ring bells and chimes to mark the United States' entrance into World War I. Some 250 parishioners entered the military. All midnight masses were suspended during the war black-outs. In June 1919 we rang our bells again to celebrate the Germans signing the peace treaty, and, in September 1946, St. Augustin's and all churches held requiem masses for those who had died.
Community and local activities also flourished in our early St. Augustin's Parish. There were the Rosary and Scapular Sodality, the Holy Name Society, the Blessed Virgin Sodality and the Mothers' Guild of St. Augustin's. Sports began as early as May 1913, when the Richmond Athletic Club beat the parish baseball team 7-6. In 1930 the tables turned and St. Augustin's Team was the victor in the Catholic Grammar School for two years in a row. Numerous titles were bestowed and our eighth grade won a football game with a score of 113-0! The adult teams were no slouches either with an 11-5 record in 1939.
Sadly, in November, 1957, our church and school were severely damaged in a general alarm fire resulting in $300,000 worth of repairs. Sunday Mass had to be held at Rogers High School while Hibernian Hall and the Carmelite Monastery on Narragansett Avenue held Daily Mass. Believe it or not, except for one day, our determined parishioners kept the school open for all eight grades accommodating the temporary location with steadfast love and energy.
In 2011 we celebrated our 100th anniversary.
We hope you will join us at our Masses as we forge the parish's future together.