Documented history indicates that from 1854 through 1859, priests from Rutland served the needs of the people of North Bennington and Shaftsbury. However, there is evidence to suggest that as early as 1839, Rev. John B. Daly said Mass until 1854 when pastors from Bennington provided services.
The Most Reverend Louis de Goesbriend said the first Mass for the people of North Bennington in Daniel McCarthy’s house with approximately 100 people attending. From that point forward, Mass was said on a monthly basis in the homes of Thomas Madden and Daniel McCarthy. Occasionally, when permitted, Mass was celebrated in the village school house. Father Sweeney and Father Katlin, from Troy New York, were the celebrants.
By November 1st, 1871, there were approximately 120 Catholic families. At that time, Father Denis Ryan purchased the old Universalist Church, which was expanded and renovated to meet the needs of the Catholic community.
It was in 1885 that St. John’s the Baptist was founded in North Bennington with Rev. Charles E. Prevost as the first pastor who served the community from 1885 to 1892. While pastor, he was able to purchase the present Rectory at a cost of $3,500.00. From 1885-1891, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a French-language parish, was attached as a mission to the St. John the Baptist church. That mission congregation was later made its own parish in 1892, led by pastor Rev. Philas Prevost.
Our present Church was eventually dedicated in 1928. Interestingly enough, there has only been one ordination at Saint John’s. Father Baffa, our priest from 1993 through 2002, was ordained by Bishop Robert F. Joyce on March 24th, 1966 – on his 29th birthday.
Pastors Who Have Served Our Parish
Reverend Charles E. Prevost
Reverend LaChance: 1892-1902.
Reverend Thomas F. Schafer: 1902 – 1914.
Monsignor Thomas J. Burke: 1914-1945.
Reverend WIllian L. Dignan: 1945-1961.
Reverend Walter F. Miller: 1961-1968.
Reverend Michael A. Demasi: 1968-1993.
Reverend Robert J. Baffa: 1993-2002.
Reverend Edward Howard: 2002 – 2005
Reverend James (Jim) Doherty: 2005-2008
Reverend Patrick C. Walsh C.S.C. 2008- 2010
Reverend William Kelley, C.S.C. 2011-2013
Reverend Bob Wiseman, C.S.C. 2013- present
Our Parish Today
Today, our parish is led by Pastor Bob Wiseman, C.S.C. He is assisted by Deacon David O'Brien. The parish is made up of just under 450 registered individuals and families.