The first known Catholic residents of Hull were the French soldiers who were stationed at Fort Revere during the Revolutionary War. It is highly probable that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated for the benefit of the garrisoned soldiers. In the years following the American Revolution, few Catholics settled in Hull Town permanently, although after the Civil War more and more Catholics took summer residence here. It was in response to the latter class that on Sunday, August 21, 1870 Mass was offered for the first time since the Revolution within the town. On that occasion the use of the Town Hall was obtained through the courtesy of the Methodists, and Father James A. Healy, later Bishop or Portland, offered the Holy Sacrifice and preached an eloquent sermon before a packed congregation of Catholics and Protestants.
A decade passed before land was purchased on Atlantic Ave., Nantasket in 1885. Fr. Gerald Fagan pastor of Hingham (1880-1896) within whose jurisdiction Hull lay, dedicated the St. Mary of the Assumption Church in June 1890. The church of Hull remained a mission of St. Paul’s of Hingham for some years to come.
Fr. Fagan also interested himself in the Catholics of the northern end of the peninsula and arranged to have Mass celebrated at Hull Village in 1894, at the old Town Hall, and in 1896 at the Corinthian Yacht Club. His successor, Fr. Hugh Mulligan, was able to buy an estate at Stony Beach (1900) and on it erect the Church of St. Catherine, (Vol. III History of the Archdiocese of Boston) which was dedicated by Bishop Brady on August 28, 1904, probably known as the first St. Mary of the Bay Church.
Due to the large congregations attending Mass in the summer in the Town Hall, His Eminence, Cardinal O’Connell, announced in June 1912, that henceforth the churches of Hull would be served under his direction by the priests of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton.
In 1914, Msgr. Peterson, the rector of the Seminary, began the construction of a much needed place of worship in the central part of town and on July 2, 1915, the attractive stucco Church of St. Ann, Waveland, was dedicated.
The Church at Stony Beach soon outlived its usefulness and proved quite inadequate for the ever expanding congregation so Fr. Charles A. Finn (later Monsignor) replaced this edifice with St. Mary of the Bay Church. It was dedicated June 24, 1928.
Early in 1938 St. Mary of the Assumption Parish received it first pastor, Fr. E. Joseph Burke, who maintained his residence on Rockland Rd., then purchased the rectory at 58 Nantasket Ave around 1943. Fr. Burke was winter pastor for the entire town, but in the summer his area extended to Whitehead Ave only. The seminary staffed St. Ann Church and St. Mary of the Bay Church until 1944, when they withdrew entirely.
During the first half of the 20th century , notable parishioners included the former mayor of Boston “Honey Fitzgerald, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy, past governors James M. Curley, J. Charles Hurley, and Presidential Candidate Alfred Smith. Hull’s Catholic History would not be complete without recognizing John Boyle O’Reilly famous Irish Patriot noted write and original publisher and editor of the Boston Pilot. His former summer residence now serves as the town library.
Rev. Thomas Murphy succeeded Fr. Burke as the second pastor. Rev. Patrick Dawson was the third pastor in Hull, but had to retire untimely, due to serious illness in 1951. The fourth pastor Rev. James E. Sullivan (later Monsignor) served here for over 11 years. The fifth pastor, Rev. Leo V. Dwyer served here for over 15 years. Rev. Arthur H. Doherty served as pastor from 1979-1986. Rev. Robert Butler served as pastor from 1986-1993. The next pastor, Rev. William G. Williams was appointed in February 1993 until January 2007 when Fr. Timothy J. Kearney was appointed. Fr. Kearney left in January 2011 and Fr. Joseph Mazzone became our tenth pastor replacing Fr. Kearney.
In the early 1980’s when Fr. Doherty was pastor, the necessity of consolidating all of the parish’s worship in one church.
The long awaited renovation of St. Ann Church, including many artifacts and furnishings from the other church buildings, were finally complete in December 1994. The new electronic organ was installed. The new sound system, heating system, and electrical system were in great working order. The building sparkled and parishioners were glowing. After nearly 15 years and a few setbacks, on December 17, 1994, Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston, presided at the liturgy to reopen St. Ann Church.
During the summer of 1995, renovations began at 210 Samoset Ave., as the house would become the home of our parish priests. In August, Fr. Williams moved from the former rectory at 58 Nantasket Ave. to 210 Samoset Ave. During 2011, the rectory underwent additional renovations.
St. Mary of the Bay Church was sold on November 7, 1997 and St. Mary of the Assumption Church was sold June 4, 1998. The parish purchased the house and property at 212 Samoset Ave. on October 26, 2000. This property was renovated and is currently used as rental property.
Brief History of the Town of Hull
St Mary’s Parish is located in the town of Hull, Massachusetts. The town is a long narrow peninsula projecting into Boston Harbor. Hull is approximately 28 square miles in size with only three square miles of habitable land. The town is 22 miles from Boston by land and 8 miles by water.
The town was first utilized by the Plymouth Colony as a trading post with the local Native American population in 1621. At that time it was viewed by the Colony as a convenient rest area as they explored the lands north of Plymouth.
The area was first settled in 1639 by three members of the Plymouth Colony, two of whom had been expelled for seditious practices. The town was officially incorporated on May 29, 1644.
The town was very active during the Revolutionary Way with the construction of Fort Independence in 1776 to defend the entrance to Boston Harbor. The entire population was evacuated during the War when the British Fleet initiated its blockade of Boston Harbor and the British forces continued to threaten and occupy the landmasses around Boston.
Hull prospered during the 19th Century when it was known as the summer destination of choice for those who wanted to escape the heat of Boston. Many grand hotels were built during this period and in the late 1890’s Hull was chosen as the finest resort location in America.
The town became a commuter location after WWII when returning veterans found the location both attractive and affordable. The demographics of the town shifted from a summer tourist to more full time residences. The town of Hull continues to be attractive to a diverse and welcoming population of full-time and summer residents.