Photo and Commentary by Andrew Lauranzano
An imposing structure on the main street of Beverly, Cabot Street, St. Mary’s Church exhibits the grandeur of European churches on a small scale. In a time of reform, the building provided a church for Catholics, in an area that was predominantly Protestant. It was mostly used by Irish workers that came during the post-civil war emigration. The church opened as an independent parish on October 16, 1871. The first reverend was Thomas H. Shahan. In a time when religion was the most sacred thing in a person’s life, St. Mary’s would be filled with praying Catholics. Today it stands as one of the oldest churches still being used. Religion has changed in our nation over the past hundred years. The church does not seem to have as much of a hold on its parishioners as it did up until the 1960’s. In the technological world, many people no longer have time for church. This would not happen in the 1870’s. The faithful parishioners would attend daily masses that would only be in Latin. Now they only speak English during the Mass so that mostly everyone will understand it. Today people go on Sundays when they can fit it into their schedule. During the 1970’s, many demonstrators protested the Vietnam War on the steps of the church.