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Harbor Grace

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(Portus Gratiæ)

Diocese in Newfoundland, erected in 1856. It comprises all the northern bays — Conception, Trinity, Bonavista, Notre Dame, and White Bays — together with that portion of the coast of Labrador over which the Government of Newfoundland exercises jurisdiction. Engaged in the ministerial work of the diocese are twenty-three priests, who minister to the Catholic population of twenty-nine thousand (29,000), consisting chiefly of sparse congregations scattered over five hundred miles of coastline. There are within the diocesan boundaries forty-nine churches, eighty- five stations, five convents, of which three are of the Order of the Presentation and two of the Order of Mercy, and one hundred Catholic schools, having an attendance of four thousand five hundred pupils. The towns of Harbor Grace and Carbonear have each an academy, and in some other of the more populous settlements there are superior or high schools. The system of education is denominational, the annual legislative grand of $245,323 being divided pro rata among the several religious denominations of the island. Besides the educational institutions within the diocese there is in the city of St. John's the College of St. Bonaventure conducted by the Irish Christian Brothers. The position which this seat of learning occupies with regard to the whole Catholic body of the island is clearly laid down in a joint circular letter recently addressed by the archbishop and bishop of the ecclesiastical province to the reverend clergy and laity. "The College", the circular states, "is the center of our educational system. It belongs not to St. John's alone, but to the whole island. It is the nursery in which are trained the youths who are, in future years, to be the teachers of our boys all over the country. It is the lyceum in which is given the Higher Education which fits our young men for the learned professions." In 1893 the Legislature incorporated a Council of Higher Education with power to confer diplomas and scholarships, as the result of competitive examinations, upon candidates from any educational institutions in the colony.

Among the institutions that appertain to the internal (religious) life of the diocese are the Priests' Eucharistic League, the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Society of the Children of Mary, and the League of the Sacred Heart.


Rev. John Dalton, a native of Thurles, Ireland, and for some years pastor of St. Patrick's Church, Carbonear, was appointed first Bishop of Harbor Grace, 20 January, 1856, and on 12 May of the same year was consecrated by Rt. Rev. Dr. Mullock in the cathedral, St. John's. He died in May 1869, having ruled the diocese thirteen years. His episcopate was peaceful and full of good works, the great achievement of his administration being the erection of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Bishop Dalton was succeeded by Rt. Rev. Henry Carfagnini, an Italian friar of the Order of St. Francis. He had been previously president of St. Bonaventure's College, St. John's. Dr Carfagnini was consecrated in 1870. He was a man of large conception, breadth of view, and bold initiative. During his ten years' administration he increased the number of the diocesan clergy from six to fourteen, encouraged the erection of churches and schools, and completed and embellished the cathedral at Harbor Grace. His episcopate was, however, thick sown with trials of the most painful character. He had to struggle with a spirit of insubordination and faction which threatened to result in an open schism. In 1880 he was translated to the See of Gallipoli, Italy. He died in Rome in 1904.

Rev. Ronald MacDonald, parish priest of Pictou, Nova Scotia, was appointed third Bishop of the see. He was consecrated in Pictou, 21 August, 1881. A happy result of his rule was the restoration of peace to the diocese which had been torn by conflicting factions. His twenty-five years' episcopate was a period of great activity, and full of enterprise for the cause of religion. The rebuilding of the cathedral at Harbor Grace, destroyed by fire in 1889, was one of the great works of his administration. In 1906 the venerable prelate was, by reason of a protracted illness, obliged to retire from the scene of his active labours, and in June of the same year he published his farewell pastoral, announcing the acceptance by the Holy See of his resignation. Before severing connection with the diocese he was made titular Archbishop of Gortyna.

The present bishop, Rt. Rev. John March, D.D., was consecrated on 4 November, 1906. He is a native of Northern Bay, Newfoundland, where he was born on 13 July, 1863. He was ordained priest on 16 March, 1889, in the College of the Propaganda, of which institution he is a graduate. Returning to Newfoundland he was appointed rector of the cathedral, a position he continued to occupy until his elevation to the episcopacy. He possesses unusual executive ability and is fully cognizant of the requirements of the diocese. His first important move in the administration of the see was the inauguration, in 1907, of an ecclesiastical students' fund.

About this page

APA citation. McCarthy, F. (1910). Harbor Grace. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. McCarthy, Felix. "Harbor Grace." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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