Sacred Heart Confirmation class, Father O'Reilly's time, ArchBishop Spratt, Father Corrigan, circa 1926


Father Thomas Davis - In Marmora 1869-1894


In the early days visits by a priest were irregular,   and Mass was celebrated in some private home. From 1842 to 1850 this corner of the archdiocese was looked after periodically by Dean Brennan,  who travelled on horseback from Belleville some 30 miles south. In 1851 Father Begley was named pastor of Stoco and the neighbouring parishes. Father Quinlan succeeded him, and then for 20 years Father Lawlor was in charge. In 1879 Father Davis, pastor of the area encompassing Stoco, Tweed, Madoc, Queensboro and Marmora, moved his place of residence from Stoco to Madoc. 

Father Thomas Davis was the first priest who was born and ordained in Kingston. He laboured and was beloved in this district for 30 years. It was he who built a magnificent red brick church in Marmora in 1875-76, at a cost of $4200, to replace the humble and picturesque stone one of 1825 on the west side of the river. (Bricks sold then for $7.75 a thousand.)

Document 1871 forming a building committee & purchasing 75,000 bricks

The contract: "I will build the new R.C. church in Marmora for $11,200.00 and furnish all the material. This is including a 'seller' (cellar) underneath the main part and the roof painted. James McNeill

Pew Rent

Priests of Marmora:

  • 1825 - 1842Travelling priests

  • 1842 - 1850: Father Brennan (click here)

  • 1851 - 1856: Father Begley

  • 1856 Father Quinlan

  • 1856 - 1869: Father Lawlor

  • 1869 - 1894: Father Thomas Davis (built brick church 1875)

  • 1894 - 1920: Father Thomas Murtagh( First full time resident priest - built the rectory 1895 & stone church 1903-04. Died in the Rectory on Feb. 28, 1920)

  • 1920 (Sept) - 1923: Father John Hanley

  • 1923 - 1925: Father Andrew M. Traynor

  • 1925 - 1928: Father J. J, O'Reilly

  • 1928 - 1938: Father J. J. Keeley

  • 1938 - 1949: Father H. J. Farrell

  • 1949 - 1953: Father J. A. O'Neill (built church hall under the church)

  • 1953 - 1966: Father Walter P. Healey

  • 1966 - 1967: Father F. J. Spence - became Archbishop of Kingston Diocese

  • 1967 - 1974: Father T. G. Scanlan 1967-1977

  • Father Patrick Carty 1977-1987

  • Father John Grainger1987-1994

  • Father John Brennan 1994-

  • Father Mark Chochrek

  • Father John Gillis

To read more details of the parish priests, click here.

Rev. Farrell (Parish Priest of Sacred Heart, Marmora,) & his mother) taken in Ireland

Archbirshop michael joseph spratt

Archbirshop michael joseph spratt

Marmora Herald,  May 1915 Archbishop Michael Joseph Spratt of the Kingston Diocese visited the Sacred Heart Church, Marmora, on May 31,1915. There were 46 boys and girls in the class for Confirmation that Sunday. Each of the children took a solemn pledge to abstain from the use of alcoholic drink of any kind until after their 21st birthday. His Grace also took a strong stand in regard to some of the modem fashions and dances. He denounced the wearing of short sleeves as a return to barbarism. He said that some of the dances caused people to act like wild people and this was displeasing to the Almighty.

Photo of basement, one year after completion. Mary Doyle's wedding

This structure was not completed without altercations. At one stage, the contractor, James McNeil, a Marmora man originally from P.E.I., locked the church until he would be paid "something on account". Father Davis' instructions to the building committee, contained in letters from his house in Hungerford Township and still on file at the Catholic Church,  concerning pledges for the building of the church, are a reflection of a strong character, one might say.  

Father Davis' reply when contractor locked up the church -
"Finding that you have today locked the church against the congregation..."

one printed leaflet was obviously inspired by the fifth commandment of the church; it is a list of parishioners' contributions for the year 1888, with the back cover devoted to a caustic commentary by Father Davis on generosity, or the lack of it.

On October 26, 1894, when Archbishop Cleary visited Marmora to administer Confirmation, he announced that Marmora was to have a resident pastor.   Father Thomas Murtagh was appointed, and one of his first challenges was to build the present rectory which was erected in 1895 at a cost of $1950. Archbishop Gauthier's first visit to the parish in 1896, to canonically erect the Stations of the Cross, was a milestone in the parish annals. His Grace was met at Marmora CNR station, three miles from the village, by the parishioners in a body, and,  preceded by the village band,  the procession travelled in dignity and style to the rectory.


Sacred Heart Cemetery, Marmora

Rev. Thomas Murtagh suffered a heart attack on Feb. 28, 1920 after having suffered an attack of influenza in 1918 that left him weakened.  "Born in Ireland in 1863, he was educated at St. Nells College, Dublin,  For three years after coming to Canada,  he was attached to St. Mary's Cathedral, Kingston,  and then appointed curate to the late Father Davis, Madoc.  As a result of his great ability,  the present splendid stone church was erected,  the handsome and commodious presbytery built and furnished,  the ground beautified,  and the cemetery enlarged and the Separate School built.

In 1903 the beautiful brick church in Marmora, recently cleared of debt,  was hit by lightning and burned with all its contents. In 1904 Father Murtagh directed his courageous flock in building the stone church that now stands. The foundation was built by Richard Sheehy of Peterborough, for $1300; the superstructure by Caspar Speagle of Westport, for $11,460.

The Archbishop had selected 6 men from 17 nominations made at a parish meeting, to form a "Committee of Management of Financial Affairs", one of them being co-treasurer with the pastor. There is no evidence that Father Murtagh encountered any such difficulties as Father Davis did with the contractors!

Archbishop Gauthier laid the cornerstone on May 8, 1904, and blessed the completed church on November 20, 1904 when the first mass was held. The Stations of the Cross were erected that evening; the church bell,  christened Hugo Bernard, was installed the next morning.

Blessing May 8, 1904 - Archbishop Gauthier , Rev. Thomas Murtagh, Rev. Peter McGuire, Hastings

1904 Blessing of the Cornerstone - Archbishop Gauthier, Also present: Rev. Thomas Murtagh, Marmora Parish Priest; Rev. Peter McGuire, Hastings; Rev. Whibbs, Campbellford; Rev. John Meagher, Madoc; Rev. P. McKiernan, Frankford and Rev. Fitzpatrick, Ennismore.

Father Murtagh died in February 1920, and was buried in the parish cemetery close by the church he had built. In his 26 years in Marmora he had become a living legend. The names of the pastors who succeeded him are to be found in the list appended to this narrative.
In the early church records, all hand-written, the visits of the various archbishops are the highlights of parish life.

  • On Sunday, July 5, 1925, Sacred Heart parish observed its centennial with solemn Mass. Rev. Capt. J. F. Nicholson gave the sermon.

  • The parish hall under the church was built in 1950, while Father J. A, O'Neill was pastor.

  • Father F. J. Spence, during his year as parish priest of Marmora, was raised to the rank of Monsignor, and then consecrated Bishop.

  • Native sons of Marmora who have been ordained to the priesthood include Father Donald Gillen, now retired in Calgary, Father Francis Quinlan, OMI, Father Wilfred Terrion, Father Leo Forestell, SJ, and Father Karl Clemens.

  • (Addendum: Since 1974, ordained priests include Father Shawn Hughes, and Father Michael Gauvereau)

  • Nuns include Sister Mary Josephine O'Neill, Sister Mary Bernard Finnegan, & Sister Audrey Mantle

The list of parishioners in Sacred Heart parish, Marmora, still reads like a catalogue of Irish heroes, seasoned with a sprinkling of other European names. And we believe these parishioners still hold the strong convictions of those hardy pioneers who built their little church here150 years ago,  and dedicated it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
March 12, 1974. Helen M. Brady

Click here for the Gallery of Marmora Priests

   Click the stained glass above to tour the windows of the church in a video with Gabriella Hamley on violin.

Marmora parishioners who followed the path of the Lord

Sister Dominic Murray, of Marmora, was paternal great aunt of Celia Murray & Wilma McKinnon - she joined the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in Kingston. The nuns had a humble beginning in1861 - did pioneer work with the needy. She was born Annie Loretta Murray. She died in 1955

 Karl Clemens was ordained to the priesthood in December, 1972.  (no photo)




Helena Bernice ONeill, Sister Mary Josephine O'Neill, - 1912-2009 - daughter of John O'Neill and Ann McGrath

Father Michael Mary Gauvereau

Shawn Hughes and brother Jodi "a long time ago"

Click the photo to enlarge Ordained in 2000

The wedding of Francis and Paticia Cook

Remembering:    Pamela Armstrong    As a teenager my husband, Bill Phillips cut all the grass here for five years with a gas push lawn mower..He said he would just get to the end of the cemetery and have to start back at the lawns in front of the house and school. He was paid S10.oo for the job. LOL


 (south side of Highway 7 East,  west of the Deloro turn off)

Holy Visions in Marmora, Ontario 1995