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St. Bartholomew's Church
Amherst Island

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Current St. Bartholomew's-formerly Christ Church
Submitted by St. Bartholomews

St. Bartholomew's is a Roman Catholic Church.
It is a Mission of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Amherstview
Erected: 1860
Closed 1976
Destroyed 1986 by fire
1987 old Christ church consecrated as St. Bartholomew's
Located 12525 Front Road
Amherst Island, ON

Still active.

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St. Bartholomew's
Submitted by St. Bartholomews
If anyone has a better photo, has a date, or can identify any persons please email me.

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St. Bartholomew's
Submitted by St. Bartholomews
Text: St. Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Church Amherst Island, shown above, had its beginning in the middle of the last century. Rev. Father McMahon, then of Kingston, held services at the homes of the members of his church. He was followed by Rev. Father Donoghue. The church was built in 1860. Rev. Father McWilliams, who lived at Railton, was a regular priest of the parish for 20 years. The church is now attended by priests from St. John the Apostle Church, Kingston.

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Notes from St. Bartholomews ch: Church was closed in 1975 and the alter was removed and taken to Kingston.
1979- Leased in 1978 for 10 years to Vaughan McMullen as a summer home.

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Kingston Whig Standard
Aug 1986
Island Church Burns
Amherst Island fire chief Hans Dehaan says lightening is believed to have been the cause of a fire Sunday which extensivley damaged the Holy Roman Catholic church on the island. There is no immediate estimate of damage. The wood frame church, built in 1860 and located approximately three miles west of Stella, has been closed for several years and was at one time rented to an island family. It was unoccupied at the time of the blaze. A petition seeking to have church serv?? restored was recently posted in Glenn's store in Stella.

Submitted by St. Bartholomews Church,
Transcribed by Dean Snider
From the Island Beacon of August 1986, #103
Transcribed and posted with Island Beacon permission
Catherine McMullen
(The building that was St. Bartholemew's, the Island's Catholic church, was apparently struck by lightning on July 17. The volunteer fire department put out the fire but the damage is quite severe. The Beacon asked Catherine McMullen, a longtime summer resident, to write an article on the history of this building. she has given more than that; an article incorporating the coming of Catholics to the island, some history of Catholics here, the building of the church and personal remembrances).

My knowledge of the early Catholic community here is tied to the McMullen family history as researched by Elizabeth McMullen Schiller, and to my memory of it only, as I have no documentation with me. If you will bear with me, I will share with you what I know and what I have discovered in the last few weeks.
My primary source of information has been Built on a Rock, the story of the Roman Catholic Church in Kingston, by Lt. Col L.J. Flynn.
There has been a Catholic community on Amherst Island from the beginning of its settlement in 1793. Shortly before the outbreak of the American Revolution, John Johnston made a trip to the British Isles and was knighted by King George III. He returned to upstate New York with a sizeable contingent of Scottish Highlands Papists to be tenant farmers on his vast land holdings. As this group made its way north from New York city to the Mohawk Valley, they were viewed with both suspicion and hostility by other settlers who saw them primarily as a private militia for the Johnson faction. when Sir John Johnson ended up in this area some of his tenants on Amherst Island came from this group. the land on the north shore starting from the head was divided into 100 acre tracts and offered for rent with an option to buy. among those who accepted this offer were John McMullen and his 5 sons and daughter, Jane McMullen Denee.
In the 1851 census, Catholics are listed but when they first arrived here there was no priest to provide for their spiritual needs and so we find records of them in the Ernestown Registry of the Anglican church by the Reverend John langhorn. However, the marriage of Neil McMullen and Bridget McAuley in 1823 is found in the Catholic registry. These were my husband Robert McMullen's great grandparents and they built the stone house on Concession1, lot 3. The stone house on Lot 1, now owned by Elsie Densern, was built by Jane and Antoine Denee.
In 1804 when father Alexander Macdonnell, another Scottish Highland papist, arrived in Upper Canada there were two other priests in the whole territory, one of whom spoke French only. a description of Father Macdonnell's ministry is given in Flynn's book, "With the sacred vessels and objects necessary for divine services strapped to his back, he walked through the woods, slept under the stars and endured great hardship and privation. As he attempted to visit all parts of his charge once a year, he lived with indians and impoverished settlers". Can we not assume that in making his rounds, he came to Amherst Island? Family tradition holds that before the church was built, Mass was said in the old stone McMullen house when a priest came to the island.
After 1820 when Alexander Macdonnell had been consecrated first bishop of Kingston he sent letters reporting progress to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome. Between 1823 and 1835, Isle of Tanti is listed among the missions attached to St. Joseph's church which had been built in Kingston between 1808 and 1812. The Reverend John Mcdonough and the Reverend John cannon were in charge.
By 1833, responsibility for Catholics on Amherst Island had been transferred to St. Patricks's church, Railton. The vast extent of this mission is shown in this entry from Flynn's book, "A registry of the marriages of the mission of Loughborough, Camden, Mill Creek, Isle Tanti, Portland and Sheffield as performed by me, James Pendergast, a missioner, 1844".
As the general population increased , so did the number of Catholic families, most of them coming from Ireland, with a few families of French descent arriving from Lower Canada. The Catholic cemetery had been donated by Alexander McMullin on Lot 5 and had probably been in use from the eighteenth century. Alexander's son, Aeneas, married Catherine Wemp and they were the grandparents of the Drumgooles--Art, Lena, Kate, Hugh, and Rachel, of Henry McGinn and Mrs. David Kearney (Miriam Mcginn?), of Charlie and Ed McMullen, of Rose Glenn and Mrs. Jimmy Gibson (Catherine Glass?) and perhaps others I don't know.
In 1851, according to the Amherst Island census, there were 340 Catholics made up of 46 families and 24 individuals. There were five families of McMullens, four families of Dennis (Denee), two families of McKentys, two O'Drain families, two Gormanly, two Higgins families, two McGeon (McGinn?) families, and two McGinnis families. The names of single Catholic families were Murray, Mulvena (Mulvaney?), Black, Crow (or Crowe? John Crowe, the stone mason), Costello, Danby, Saunders, Trudell, Calahan, McGrafton, Amell, Beaubien, Dunn, Gordon, Carey, McAlister, McCormack. Little (Lytle?), McLeutic, Roberts, Emnion, Christy, McTaggert, Neily, and Cantell.
The church community on Amherst Island had grown to the point where it needed a church building, During the pastorage of the Reverend John Quirk, St. Bartholemew's church was built in 1863 on land donated by John McCormack. Subsequent priests who served the mission were the Reverend T.C. McMahon 1868-68, M.O. O'Donahue 1869-74, and Charles McWilliams 1874-97. From 1897 to 1910, St. Patrick's Church and its missions of Odessa, Bath and Amherst Island, were served by a congregation of French missionary priests, Sociates Maria de Montfort, commonly called the Marist Fathers. Through these years the priests made their rounds on horseback or with a horse and buggy. After 1910, St. Bartholemew and St. Linus missions became the responsibility of St. Mary's Cathedral for many years. Modernity began to affect missionary work--now the priest could come by train.
According to Flynn"s book this is how the Reverend J.V. Meagher carried out his ministry.
He would take the train to Ernestown Station on Saturday afternoon, stay over night--offer mass at St. Linus on Sunday morning then take either the ferry or a motor boat from Millhaven and offer Mass at St. Bartholemew's Church on Amherst Island. He would then return by train from Ernestown Station on Monday morning".
My husband, Robert McMullen, spent his first summer on Amherst Island when he was 6 years old (1915?). His family stayed on lot 2 with his Uncle John McMullen. He has vivid memories of going to church at St. Bartholemew's He and his mother would drive with his Uncle John but some of his sisters begged to ride with the Drumgooles. As they approached the church, horses and buggies seemed to be converging from all directions. There were a series of long, low carriage sheds and horse stalls at the rear right of the church but not enough for all the horses and buggies. While awaiting arrival of the priest, children in their Sunday best played about the yard while the adults socialized together. With the arrival of the priest, everyone, came into the church and it was full to overflowing.
After services, people lingered on sharing news and enjoying each other's company and laughing and talking with the priest like old friends.
Robert says that it was this sense of belonging to a close group that impressed him more than the liturgy or the sermon. For him, the experience made a very powerful impression which he has remembered vividly all his life.
Other priests who served St. Bartholemew's from St. Mary's Cathedral were the Reverend E.M. Leacy, F.C. Pickett, T.J. Larkin, and G.T. Martin. Father Pickett celebrated the first and only Midnight Mass on Amherst Island at Christmas 1946.
Serving Amherst Island was not only time consuming and effortful, it was often downright perilous. In 1947 Father Larkin was crossing to Amherst Island on the ferry when he lost the St. Mary's Parish Plymouth car when it slid into the water from the boat deck, but he saved himself.
I first started attending Mass at St. Bartholemew's in the 1950s. I found it charming to sit in church and look out the windows at trees, water, wildflowers and cattle grazing in the distance. The church was always neat and clean. I don't know who kept it that way but I did notice. There was the ominous presence of the stove and long stovepipe to remind us that summer would not be forever.
Soon the priest would arrive, often bringing two altar boys with him but at other times depending on Paul McCormick and Henry Mulders. After getting the candles lit and the altar set up, he would enter the confessional, providing the opportunity of reconcilliation for all who felt the need.
He would then vest for Mass and the liturgy would begin, a liturgy that was beautiful and soul satisfying in its simplicity and in the closeness of the small group.
I remembered a special occasion in the late 50s when a brand new baby was baptized after Mass. This baby was the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Gibson. Islanders who attended regularly in those days as I remember them were: Eleanor, Angus and Dennis McGinn; Mr. & Mrs. Charlie McMullen; Rose Glenn; Mr. & Mrs. Jimmy Gibson; Helen McCormick and her family; Freddy, Hugh, Robert & McCormick, Mrs. David Carney (Kearney?) and her son Gerald; Mrs. Harvey Eves & Patty; Bertha Beaubien; Marge Aitken and often Vince too; the Mulders family; and in the 60s the Faraday family and Mrs. Hinch from Stella Point.
In the latter years of its being an active mission church, St. Bartholomew's was attached to St. John's, Kingston.
In closing St. Bartholemew's, the thinking of the archdiocese, according to Msgr Hanley, was that with regular ferry service people could easily attend 9:30 Mass at St. Linus in Bath or 11:00 Mass at Blessed Sacrament in Amherstview.

Submitted 2004 by St. Bartholomew's Church:


In 1976, St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church on Amherst Island was closed. This old country church building had been a landmark on the Front Road for more than a hundred years. The building was leased as a summer home and almost all ecclesiastical architectural features were removed. The building was painted barn red and for a number of years seemed deserted.
One Sunday afternoon in July 1986, this stark, barnlike building was struck by lightening and went up in flames. The fire department eventually put out the fire and for the rest of the summer the charred bare bones were left.
The two front doors were still intact and Elsie Densem liked them as well as their hardware. She thought she might use them if she repaired her barn. She called the Archdiocesan office in Kingston and asked if she could keep the doors. Dr. Cummings, the Chancellor of the Diocese, came out to island one evening and met Elsie, accompanied by Don Tubbs, at the old church site and examined the ruin. They said Elsie could have the doors for a nominal fee and anything else she cared to salvage, but that the remaining building was a safety hazard and must be razed. He contracted with Don Tubbs to do this, and by the end of September 1986, the last vestiges of St. Bartholomew’s Church were removed.
During the same summer, 1986, Laurene Kilpatrick had been trying to re-establish Catholic Church services on the island. She had spoken to Father Don Clement of Blessed Sacrament Church and he was willing to consider a mission if the people really wanted it. She posted a notice at Glenn’s store asking for signatures of people who would attend a Catholic service on the island. Armed with thirty-six names, she went back to Father Clement, who, after consulting with the bishop, willingly offered to provide Sunday services on Amherst Island. He offered to come over himself as often as he could but in the beginning Mike Mastrianni, a deacon from Blessed Sacrament Parish and Sister Mary Monica Hammond, a special minister of Christian Instruction, directed the services on most Sundays. Services were held in the City Council Office from October 1986 to December 1987.
Throughout the summer of 1987 the congregation considered the problem of finding a permanent church. Laurene Kilpatrick had asked the owners of the former Christ Church if they would consider selling their property, now used as their summer home. They were not interested in selling at that time. Other possibilities proved to be exorbitantly expensive. Then, at the end of the summer, Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Frost changed their mind and offered to sell the old Christ Church building in Emerald if it would be used for church services. The congregation was astonished and delighted at this turn of events. Legal details were completed and title was transferred on December 2, 1987.
The first religious service held by the Catholic community was Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, 1987. During the spring and summer that followed, the church was restored and redecorated. Carmelle Horst scraped and sanded all the dark wood. Dennis McGinn did the structural repairs and painted the ceiling and upper walls.
On September 11, 1987, the new St. Bartholomew’s Church was consecrated by Archbishop Frances Spence of Kingston, in the presence of an overflowing congregation made up of many wellwishers as well as the Catholic community. Many of those present had worshipped in this building in their childhood and earlier years.

Catherine P. McMullen

Submitted 2004 by St. Barthomew's Church:
Newpaper Article:


First St. Bartholomew’s closed 12 years ago but “the Holy Ghost got busy” and parish revived.
By Jack Rafter
The 25 to 30 Roman Catholic families of Amherst Island will no longer have to travel to the mainland to attend Sunday mass - they now have a newly dedicated St. Bartholomew’s church.
The church is located in the hamlet of Emerald on the island’s North Shore Road.
The new house of worship was officially signed, sealed and delivered when Kingston Archbishop, F. J. Spence dedicated it in a non-celebrated mass earlier this month. Joining him in the mass and blessing were Vicar General Rev. T. J. Raby and St. Bartholomew’s pastor, Rev. Don Clement. Island resident Grace Eves presented the bishop with the deed to the church.
Also joining in the dedication ceremonies were extraordinary ministers Mike Mastrianni and Terry Bender. Altar boy for the event was Michael Kincaid.
The name of the new church seemed a natural - it was the name of the former Roman Catholic church on the island.
St. Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel, was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. As patron of the new church, he will pick up right where he left off when the first St. Bartholomew’s on the island closed a decade ago. That building, located east of the new site, had been rented out for some years as a residence; about two years ago, it was destroyed by fire.
The new Catholic church has a history of its own. Built 112 years ago by the Anglican Diocese of Ontario, it served several generations of Anglicans as Christ Church until it closed some 20 years ago. More recently, the building was used as a cottage. The Catholic archdiocese purchased it last year.
Clement paid special tribute to local carpenter Dennis McGinn who did a great deal of the work needed to put the building in its present spanking new condition.
Spence said in his sermon that a church, whether it is a tiny frame structure or a giant Gothic cathedral, is always a special place because it is designated as a house of worship.
“It’s chief goals are spiritual, it is a gathering place of worshippers where the word of God is explained.”
A church is itself is a prayer, he said, and each of its members may be seen as parts of it. Each member can be a window reflecting Christianity, an aisle leading the way to a Christian life, an altar making sacrifices to God, or a pulpit witnessing the good news of the gospel, he said.
“Pope John Paul has said that houses of God are as indispensable as air,” Spence said.
Parishioner Robert McMullen said he had been keeping an eye on what had been happening in the parish for the past 18 months. Clement has celebrated Sunday mass monthly and either Mastrianni or Bender has conducted services of worship and Holy Communion on the intervening Sundays. During this time, the community laid the groundwork and carried out the numerous preparations needed in opening a new parish church. Everything obviously came together, McMullen said, quite probably with some divine intervention. “The Holy Ghost got busy,” he said.
Special guests, Rev. Ken Blaber and Lindsay McIntyre brought blessings and congratulations from the local Anglican and Presbyterian communities respectively. Island Reeve Norman Allison, who is a retired Presbyterian minister, also attended the event.
Clement saluted the many who contributed to the creation of the new parish, including the enormous contribution of Sister Monica Hammond of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph. Among others cited for their help and organizational skills were Grace Eves and her family, the Feradays, Kilpatricks, Kincaids, the Koenders, the Russell McGinns, McMullens, Matthews and the Horths. Parishioner Lauren Kilpatrick said in an interview that she was the “instigator” of the idea of re-opening the church. After not practicing her faith for many years, she began, about two years ago, to attend mass at St. Linus Church in Bath and at Blessed Sacrament Church in Amherstview. Her trips from the island to church - particularly with two children to take - sometimes became four hour marathons with ferry rides at either end.
“I guess I saw the need for a church here,” she said. “So one Sunday I asked Father Clement about it. He said I should try to find out if others were interested, so I put up a poster in the store in Stella (the bigger village on the island). We got about 36 signatures. Then we held services in the Township Hall for quite awhile before we got the church.”
Kilpatrick said God must have answered one of her prayers in making the building available. The owner initially declined to sell, but a few months after her first inquiry, he “called me up, out of the blue, to say he’d changed his mind.”
She also had high praise for Carmelle Horth who performed the beautiful interior woodwork including the scraping of the former surfaces and their re-sanding.
The dedication day congregation of almost 100 gathered for an outdoor potluck dinner at the home of Ray and Zelma Koenders following the service.
The schedule of dates for the monthly Sunday masses - which start at 1 p.m. - is still being determined. Services of worship will be held on the other Sundays.

Photo of St. Bartholomew's-thanks to Maureen Deacon


Rev. Father McMahon
Rev. Father Donoghue
Rev. Father McWilliams
Mike Mastrianni & Terry Bender-1986-7

If you have any information on the priests of this church please email me!

I am looking for name, dates of birth, death, ordination and when they served the church. Also photos, and anything else interesting during their pastorate.

Church Links

-ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S (Roman Catholic) Offsite
From Kingston District Community Information Database

- Parishes and Missions of the Archdiocese of Kingston

- Amherst Island churches page from Amherst Island site-includes photo


Many Thanks to St. Bartholomew's Church who sent me a large package of write ups, articles etc to add to this site.

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