This page is from a heritage partnered project. It was written in 1998 by students from Stephenville Integrated High School and edited by their teachers. It has not been vetted by the heritage website's academic editor.
Religion played a significant role in the development of the community of Stephenville, previously called Acadian Village and Indian Head. In the census of 1874, Indian Head (Stephenville proper) first showed up as community having 103 people. All of these people were French-speaking Roman Catholics. That same year, a Reverend by the name of Thomas Sears traveled to Indian Head while visiting other parishes in the area. The community's first church had been built in 1869 on the location of the present day priest's house.
The Reverend had already been to Stephenville while the church was being constructed. During the time it was being built, Reverend Sears wrote to the Society of Propagation: "... at Stephenville... there is a neat little wooden building in course of erection... This was begun by these poor Acadians of their own free will before my coming... Then I got them a plan for arranging the inside... This neat little church, when furnished,... will be dedicated to God under the name of St. Stephen, protomartyr of the church. This will accord well with the name of the place - - Stephenville."
During the time that Rev. Sears was in Stephenville a new church was constructed. It was built of local materials supplied by the Acadian people. Shingles were imported from Halifax, and the cement, nails and paint bought with hard earned money. The church was completed in 1883. When it was finished Rev. Shears reported to the Society of Propagation that a Presbytery and church were complete in Stephenville. This church stood until 1910.
In 1906, Father Patrick Adams came to Stephenville, via train to Stephenville Crossing, and was driven the rest of the way by a horse and carriage. In 1908, Bishop MacNeil came to Stephenville to help construct another church. Its foundation was laid in 1908. It was to be the future site of a new wooden church. This church was built of sturdy, hard, pine wood. The church was officially opened with midnight mass on December 24, 1909, with the construction being completed in 1910.
The priest played a role in the education of the people. Bishop MacNeil taught trades such as carpentry and construction to the men. Father Adams gave advice to parents on how to raise their children well with discipline and obedience. Also, Father Adams was the director of the convent which opened in November 11, 1925. At this time there were four sisters residing at the convent. Since these early beginnings our religions and churches have grown in the Stephenville area to include six different churches of varying denominational affiliations.