St. Michael's Basilica, Miramichi

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St. Michael's Basilica, Miramichi
Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel
St. Michael's Basilica, Miramichi.png
St. Michael's Basilica, Miramichi
St. Michael's Basilica, Miramichi is located in New Brunswick
St. Michael's Basilica, Miramichi
St. Michael's Basilica, Miramichi
47°01′34″N 65°27′56″W / 47.0261°N 65.4656°W / 47.0261; -65.4656Coordinates: 47°01′34″N 65°27′56″W / 47.0261°N 65.4656°W / 47.0261; -65.4656
Location10 Howard Street Miramichi, New Brunswick
DenominationRoman Catholic
Functional statusActive
Architect(s)P. Keely
Architectural typeneo-Gothic
Capacity1,200 people
Materialssandstone and marble

The Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, is located on a hill overlooking the Miramichi River in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada. It is the dominant feature of the former Town of Chatham, New Brunswick and one of the largest churches in Eastern Canada[citation needed]. It is now included within the City of Miramichi that was formed in 1995.


St. Michael's Basilica is among[vague] the largest churches[clarification needed] in Canada, east of Quebec City. The sandstone neo-Gothic structure was designed by the same architect, Patrick Keely, as Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Providence, Rhode Island and the Church of the Gesu in Montreal. St. Michael's Basilica is 15 ft (4.6 m) taller than Holy Name in Chicago, somewhat narrower and about the same length, Holy Name seats about 300 more people (1,520 vs 1,200). Construction on the cathedral started in 1903 and finished in 1921. Italian marble with veined panels was used throughout the interior of the nave and the sacristy. The spire is visible for several miles especially when approaching Chatham from the north, across the Centennial Bridge that spans the Miramichi River.


St. Michael's Basilica is a testament to the faith of the Irish Catholics who immigrated to New Brunswick before the Great Famine. As late as the 1980s, large numbers of worshipers attended daily mass during Lent. The Church was one of the ways that the new Catholic immigrants of all ethnic origins maintained their unique identity.

When the Irish Catholics came to Canada, unlike their counterparts in the United States, they were barred from public office and the professions.[further explanation needed] They were required in the early days to tithe to the Church of England. These barriers were lifted during the 19th century, but Irish Catholics remained marginalized and banded together to protect their interests, with St. Michael's helping to bring them all together. The parish served by St. Michael's had a long history of providing priests for the area and sending others to the foreign missions or to Western Canada. By 1975, however, vocations to the priesthood from Chatham and area had essentially dried up.


With an austere beauty and pleasing lines, the Basilica was built as the cathedral of a once-extensive Diocese of Chatham, that covered the northern part of the Province. The Diocese relocated to the French-speaking town of Bathurst, approximately 45 mi (72 km) north, in 1938 and Sacred Heart Cathedral became the seat of the new Diocese of Bathurst.

Notable features of the Cathedral are a Lady Chapel to the west of the main church, a tall single spire (once illuminated by the Canadian Air Force because of the proximity of a fighter base) a green copper roof and a matching Bishop's Palace to the southeast. Its great bells, whether tolling a funeral, sounding the Angelus or joyously ringing in Easter or Christmas have long been a feature of life in the town. A fine stand of linden trees, planted by Bishop James Rogers, stands to the east of the basilica, in front of the palace.


The church is unique in that it was the cathedral of the Diocese of Chatham, but lost that distinction when the see moved in 1938. The church was then designated a pro-cathedral until 1989, when Pope John Paul II elevated it to a minor basilica.[1]


List of parish priests since the construction of the Basilica:

Name Dates of Service Other Information
Monsignor Michael O'Keefe 1904-1934 Traditional in style. Died in office.
Reverend Burns 1934-1946 A quiet man. Died in office.
Reverend William J. Wallace 1946-1961 Chatham native who retired due to a motor neuron disease.
Reverend Lynn McFadden 1961-1975 Previously rector of St. Thomas University.
Reverend Bernard M.Broderick 1975-1982 Active in the Cooperative Movement. Retired in Chatham.
Reverend Peter Bagley 1982-1988
Reverend Leon Creamer 1988-1993 A well-liked sports enthusiast. Died in office.
Reverend Leo Sullivan A gentle man and Chatham native who retired in Chatham.
Reverend Joseph Daley 1993-1996 Moved to the North West Territories and ministered there for many years.
Reverend Paul Riley 1996-1999
Reverend John Fraser 1999- 2015 From nearby Loggieville.
Reverend John Beaumaster 2015 - 2017
Reverend Paul Doucet 2017 - 2018
Reverend Arockia Dass Chinnappan, HGN 2018 - present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of St. Michael's Parish". St. Michael's Basilica. 2010. Retrieved 2013-08-20.

External links[edit]