THIS, THEN, WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE BUILDING OF A PARISH THE CONTINUES - TO THIS DAY
It was 1873 and the number of Franco-Americans in Lewiston was just a fraction of what it would become over the next 30-40 years. This beautiful new church, bought and paid for by our ancestors, was beyond anybody's expectations but, nobody could imagine that it would be outgrown and unable to serve the masses of industrious French Canadians who were either recruited for work in the mills or who came to Lewiston in search of a better life. This first church had a seating capacity of 800.
In 1881, Dominican Fathers of Lille, France and the Province of Canada took over the administration of the parish. Headed by Very Rev. Alexandre L. Mothon, O. P. Dominican Prior, St. Peter's Church, Lewiston, Me.
With the original building literally bursting at the seams, church fathers began discussing expansion plans as early as 1889. The rapid growth of parishioners, despite having added several side chapels to the original building AND having split the congregation with the addition of St. Louis in Auburn, was overwhelming. It was Father Mothon who initiated the enlargement of the church with the construction of a foundation and basement, which was completed in 1897. After pausing to pay of its debts, it was announced in 1901 that a massive new church would be built on the Mothon foundation. The decision made, in 1905 the original church would be demolished; it was simply too small to handle the, now 10,000, parishioners.