History of Saint Eugene Parish

Saint Eugene Parish in Chepachet, R.I., was established on September 11th, 1956, by Most Reverend Bishop Russell J. McVinney. Bishop McVinney had served the early residents 0f St. Eugene Parish while he was an Assistant Pastor at St. Patrick Church in Harrisville, R.I.  At the time, St. Eugene Parish was a mission church of St. Patrick Church and Mass was celebrated in a hall on Route 102 across from the Chepachet Pharmacy (the hall has since been demolished) and later in the basement meeting room of the town building on Main Street in the village.

At its establishment as an independent parish, the first Pastor of St. Eugene Church/Parish was Father Joseph F. McCabe (1956-1964) who previously served as the Assistant Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Pawtucket, R.I. and as the Director of Catholic Cemeteries for the Diocese of Providence.  Following Fr. McCabe’s assignment as Pastor of St. Eugene Church, his successors have been Reverend Ronald G. Dailey (1964-1967), Reverend William F.X. Harrington (1967-1971), Reverend Francis V. De Lellis (1971-1994), Reverend Russell Page (1994-1996), Reverend Charles Quinn (1997-2007), Reverend T.J. Varghese (2007-2018), and Reverend Stephen J. Dandeneau (2018-present).

Reminiscent of the earlier ties to St. Patrick Church, the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement assisted with the Religious Education Program at St. Eugene Church during the school year for a number of years until they moved out of the area.

The St. Eugene Church building is of modern “Georgian-Colonial” design built of red brick and wood and designed to accommodate about 500 people at one time.  It is well designed to take care of the growing numbers of year-round residents as well as the increasing numbers of summer residents who are attracted by the numerous lakes and ponds in Glocester, which boasts of the highest elevations in Rhode Island.

The rectory is one of several historical buildings in town with ties to public service since it was built about 1840 by one of the members of the Brown family.  The Brown’s were among the first families to settle in the Town of Glocester.  At one time, the rectory was the private home of Walter Reed, who was a Rhode Island United States Senator.  Later, it served as a boarding house and, more recently, as a convalescent home until it was purchased by the Diocese of Providence to serve as the St. Eugene Church Rectory.

The story of St. Eugene Church has been one of steady, slow, and unspectacular progress built on a good foundation of hardy, good people who make the northwest corner of our state the welcoming and pleasant area that it is.