History of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rosiere, N.Y.
The church was built in 1832. Dedicated to St. Vincent de Paul, the parish was incorporated on August 3, 1871 as St. Vincent’s Congregation.
In the early 1800’s, through the influence of James Le Ray de Chaumont, many people who were faithful to the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte were driven from France and settled in Cape Vincent and Rosiere. They came from Rosiere, Aubercy, Sembry and St. Marcel. Among the first settlers were ancestors of families still found locally, including Aubertine, Laurent (Lawrence), Cornaire, Branche, Gosier, Mussot, Chavoustie, Favret, Margrey… Thanks to the influence of LeRay, people of German descent also settled in the area soon after the arrival of the French. Both groups were Catholic. Since James was himself a fervent Catholic he donated land for the building of the church, paid for one-quarter of the expense and loaned the rest of the money. Remarkably he had also given churches to Quakers in Philadelphia, Presbyterians in LeRay, Baptists in Evans Mills and Catholics in Carthage.
(At the time, Bishop John Dubois was responsible for the diocese of New York, which comprised the entire State of New York and part of the State of New Jersey. He was born in Paris in 1764 and died in New York in 1842. During the French revolution soon after his ordination to the priesthood he was obliged to leave France. In May 1791 he landed in Norfolk Virginia, with commendatory letters from Marquis de LaFayette. He resided for a time with James Monroe and received lessons in English from Patrick Henry. During his stay in Virginia, he celebrated mass in the State House at Richmond. In 1826 he was consecrated Bishop of New York, at which time he received his ring and pectoral cross from Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.)
The first mass in Rosiere was celebrated by Fr. Simon in 1832. For the next five years the parish was served by priests from Kingston, Canada. During the summer of 1832, while visiting the Catholic population in the North Country, Bishop Dubois accepted the invitation of James Le Ray de Chaumont to come to Rosiere and bless the corner stone of St.Vincent de Paul Church on what is now Dezengremel Road. On that occasion, James presented this new parish with one hundred acres of land a short distance away. (As part of the original church a Seminary was built, which was later moved to a bigger facility in LaFargeville. But parents did not like to send their children to such an isolated area so that, on July 18, 1840, the Seminary was transferred to Rose Hill Manor, Fordham University, where it was named St. Joseph’s Seminary.)
In the absence of a priest, a Catholic layman, Mr. Dezemgremel, taught catechism to the children and assembled the congregation each Sunday for hymns and prayers. He had full control. However, when Father Francis Guth became pastor of Rosiere (1837-1843), Clayton, Cape Vincent and LeRaysville in the late 1830’s, the layman resented the loss of his leadership and organized his friends and relatives into a splinter group.
Father Michael Guth was the first resident pastor (1843 to 1847). His assistant, Father Ancet, was given the responsibility of building a church in the village of Cape Vincent. In 1851 Father Louis Lapic (1851-1861) was placed in charge of the parishes of Cape Vincent and Rosiere while Father Michael Guth served the parishes of Clayton and LaFargeville. Both priests resided in Rosiere. In 1869 Father Victor Ritter (1869-72) was appointed pastor. He was responsible for the building of the rectory in Rosiere on the land donated by James Le Ray de Chaumont. In 1872, Edgar P. Wadhams became the first bishop of the newly established Diocese of Ogdensburg. Because of the large number of French speaking Catholics in Jefferson County, he invited the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) from France to come to Watertown. Father Joseph-Fernand Durin was the first superior of this new religious community. Soon after his arrival in 1876 he also ministered to the people of Rosiere and Evans Mills. By then the Rosiere congregation had outgrown its church located on Dezemgremel Road. So he immediately began to plan for a new one. It would be located near the railroad station on parish property on the present County Route 4. The corner stone was laid in 1878. Two years later, when Father Sherry was pastor (1877-1883), Bishop Wadhams dedicated the handsome new church erected on parish property near the railroad station. The old stone church fell into ruin soon after it was abandoned. A monument stands across the road from the location where the church stood next to the graveyard for many heroes of Austerlitz.
In 1905 Father John F. Byrnes completed the elegant parochial residence near the church. It is worth noting that Rosiere was a mission of Cape Vincent in 1884, from 1897 to 1902 and from 1986 till 2004 when it was merged with Cape Vincent and Chaumont.
The last pastor to reside in Rosiere was Fr. Victor LaMore (1986-1989). The rectory was sold in 2011 after being occupied by retired Father Eugene Kelly and later by Deacon Robert Ruddy and his wife Judy.
The establishment of the Le Ray de Chaumont Knights of Columbus Council # 2148 on July 11, 1920, greatly influenced the life of the parishioners. The members first met in a large hay barn located on the land that had been donated by Le Ray. A few months later the council bought a half-acre of land directly across the road from the church and built the K of C Hall.
In 1929 the parish purchased ten beautiful stained glass windows from Haskins Glass Studio in Rochester, NY.
On September 5, 1932, more than 6,000 participated in the celebration of the centennial of the church. The pastor, Father Matthew Sweeney ((1930-1935) had put together a planning committee, chaired by State Senator Perley A. Pitcher of Watertown, including among other dignitaries Watertown Mayor John B. Harris, prominent church designer and Knights of Columbus Grand Knight David D. Kieff, Watertown Daily Times Editor and Publisher Harold B. Johnson. This was a full day event that began with the confirmation of 200 children from Clayton, Cape Vincent, Chaumont, Sackets Harbor and Rosiere by Ogdensburg Bishop Joseph H. Conroy. The mass main celebrant was Father Richard Blackburn Washington, a descendent of President Washington’s brother, Lawrence. About 400 people from around the north country made up the cast of the Labor Day pageant, playing roles to help depict nine episodes in history. On that occasion a plaque was attached to a monument across the location of the first church and the cemetery on Dezengremel Road. It reads:
In Memory of James D. LeRay De Chaumont
Rt. Rev. John Dubois, DD
and French & German Settlers
Father Michael Kelly was pastor from 1935 until 1945. In 1953, while Father Walter J. Charbonneau was pastor (1945-1964), the church underwent major renovations. In 1992, during the pastorate of Fr. Eugene Kelly, the last resident pastor, ownership of the K of C Hall was transferred to the St. Vincent de Paul Church as the K of C was no longer able to cover the cost of insurance and taxes.
In 2001, the rectory was also remodelled under the leadership of Father John Silver (1997-2002).
In 2002, Fr. Pierre Aubin, Missionary of the Sacred Heart (MSC), was appointed pastor of Cape Vincent, Rosiere and Chaumont. On July 1, 2004, with the approval of His Excellency Gerald M. Barbarito, bishop of Ogdensburg, St. Vincent of Paul Parish in Cape Vincent with its Mission, St. Vincent de Paul in Rosiere, and All Saints Parish were merged to form The Roman Catholic Community of Cape Vincent, Rosiere and Chaumont. The three churches (worship sites) and their assets became the property of this new legal entity.
From 2002 on, many improvements were made. The rectory and the church got new roofs, the rectory chimney was rebuilt, a more efficient furnace and an upgraded sewage system were installed. The stained glass windows were all renovated at a cost of $5,000 each. Benefactors made donations in memory of loved ones to cover the cost of some of the windows.
In 2004, the parish sold most of the 95 acres of land adjoining the church and cemetery, reserving parcels to enlarge the cemetery and to provide for a parking lot. It was bought by Timothy Wiley for $30,000.
In 2005, Deacon Ruddy, chaplain at the Cape Vincent Correctional Facility, moved from Theresa to the rectory in Rosiere and was assigned to our parish. Two years later he built a house on the St. Lawrence River. He died prematurely in 2014. He was much appreciated for his affability and love of the liturgy. The rectory was then rented until it was sold in 2012.
St. Vincent de Paul Church celebrated its 175 anniversary on July 29, 2007. Activities included a mass presided over by the Bishop of Ogdensburg, Most Rev. Robert Cunningham, a luncheon in the former K of C Hall and a visit of the history room prepared for the occasion at the entrance of the Hall. In preparation for the celebration, thanks to the leadership of Mickey Orvis, volunteer parishioners completely upgraded the old cemetery on Dezengremel Road and restored the monument across the road. The celebration ended with a special blessing at that location by Bishop Cunningham.
In 2010, in the lower level of the former K of C Hall, the dining room and the kitchen were painted and made more user friendly. In 2012 the K of C was responsible for a new metal roof on the hall and in 2014/15 for the building of an access ramp to the main floor. A bathroom was built on that floor and plan were made for the addition of a kitchen. Thanks to Mickey Orvis, the K of C members with the help of the prisoners of the Cape Vincent Facility cleaned the brush on the west side of the cemetery to make more room for the cemetery and to move the road away from the graves.
Since 2013 the church has been closed from November till May except for the Christmas Eve celebration. During that period, the anticipated mass is celebrated in Cape Vincent instead of in Rosiere.
Edited and updated by Fr. Pierre Aubin, MSC, Pastor 11-23-16