HISTORY OF ST. MARY'S CHURCH
Article from Coopersville Observer, 25 February 1898
The recent destruction of the beautiful Catholic
Church edifice of Berlin brings to the mind of the writer some thoughts that
might prove interesting to your readers. More than half a century ago a few
Irish pioneers attracted by the fertility of the soil and many other advantages,
sought a home in the townships of Wright and Tallmadge. They were amongst the
very first settlers of the eastern portion of Ottawa county. They were men who
had sought in this land of freedom advantages and possibilities that were denied
them at home.
After various wanderings they were guided by the hand of destiny to this fertile spot. Having settled here they dedicated their lives to the high and holy purpose of wresting from the forest a little home that they could call their own. How well they succeeded in that purpose is known to all that have had the pleasure of visiting this favored locality. They have by their industry, frugality and perseverance kept pace with their more skillful neighbors.
They brought with them other qualities than these that were necessary to enable them to acquire a competency. Down deep in their hears, they possessed a love for that dear old faith for which their forefathers suffered so much in the old land. Scarcely had they built a dozen log houses in the woods till they built in their midst the little log school house and by its side the little temple dedicated to the living God. Deprived of all the comforts and many of the necessities of life, yet giving the last dollar that they possessed and pledging other dollars that they knew not where they were to get in order to build the little church in which to worship God in the faith of their fathers and in order to enable them to transmit that faith to their children.
The first little church was built about one-half mile west of the one recently destroyed. It was a modest structure and remained for many years the only church in the township of Wright (except the German Catholic Church which was built about the same time.). About the year 1877, the congregation having outgrown the old church, the one recently destroyed was built. The parish was then happily in charge of Rev. T. J. Murphy, then a young man of great zeal and popular with all classes. He has been for many years at Flint, where he is beloved by all and is one of the most popular priests of the diocese of Detroit.
Soon after the completion of the church, Father Murphy was called to a larger field of usefulness. He was succeeded by Rev. Michael Dalton, then later by Rev. Edward Caldwell. About 1892, Rev. T. J. O'Connor succeeded Father Caldwell. About 1897 a tower was built on the church with a large bell to call the faithful to devotion.
Created: 29 May 2009