December 16, 1884

Fall River Church Locks Out Priest


On this day in 1884, a Fall River newspaper reported that French Canadian Roman Catholic parishioners had locked their newly-appointed priest out of their church. When the priest finally gained entry to the building, he was confined to the vestry and then threatened with further violence. The priest's "offense"? He was Irish, and the French Canadians would, as one of them proclaimed, "stand on the brink of hell" before they would submit to an Irishman. In this textile-manufacturing city, hard feelings between the more established Irish immigrants and the French Canadian newcomers ran deep, in spite of their shared religion. The quarrel was about ethnicity, class, and politics. In response to their parishioners' rejection of the Irish priest, the bishop closed the French Canadian parish.

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