St. Elizabeth’s Church

St. Elizabeth’s was the dream of the first Bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg - Bishop Edgar P. Wadhams. Prior to its establishment in 1881, Elizabethtown was a station of Keeseville (and Essex). The Church was named in honor of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, and Father Joseph Reddington was appointed as parish priest. In 1916 the church structure was altered after the parish decided to construct a bell tower. The church was completely renovated beginning in 1922, under the guidance and management of Father McCarthy. In 1931 Honorable Augustus N. Hand donated further land for future church needs and cemetery development.

In 1981 the Father Edwin H. McCarthy Council #7767 of the Knight’s of Columbus was formed, consisting of 40 members from St. Philip Neri (Westport), St. Brendan (Keene), and St. Elizabeth.  

St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Essex

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is located about one mile north of the main village of Essex. The church was built mostly by volunteers. In 1873, it was completed using locally quarried stone at a total cost of $9,000 (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain78).The church served members of both the Essex and Willsboro communities, and this factor contributed to the chosen building site. The decision of where to locate the church was made to make it more convenient and accessible for Willsboro parishioners and to “provide room to shelter worshipers’ horses” (Belden Noble Memorial Library. Essex, New York: An Early History. Burlington, VT: Queen City Printers, 2003. Print. 79). The land was donated by James Ross with the stipulation that it never be used as a cemetery. This may seem like a strange request, but for some the idea is macabre and there may have been practical reasons as well. 


“The eleven stained glass windows (including St. Joseph’s picture in his carpenter’s shop in the front) were installed in the early 1900s. Patrick Boyle, trustee at the time, chose windows that represented the joyful and glorious mysteries of the rosary.” (Essex, New York: An Early History 79-80) A picture of St. Stephan, made of gold and colored thread, hangs in the vestry—Mrs. James Harlan (nee Noble) bought it in Italy and gifted it to Alonzo Bouchard, who then donated it to the church (Essex, New York: An Early History 80).

St. Philip Neri - Westport, NY

In 1639 a man by the name of Father Issac Jogues traveled up Lake Champlain to where present day Westport exists.  He with two other missionaries (members of the Society of Jesus - Jesuit priests), were prisoners of the Iroquois Indians and were to be taken to the Mowhawk Valley.  They had begun a movement to bring the natives of the region to the Catholic faith. After much suffering, Father Jogues was killed on October 18, 1647. He was later canonized to Sainthood on September 26th, 1930.

Long after the passing of Father Jogues there were a sufficient amount of practicing Catholics to support the celebration of mass in private homes in 1849, thereby establishing a “station” in Westport. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the church was built, with the parish’s incorporation taking place in 1881.

The original church unfortunately burned in 1980 as a result of drapes catching fire from two votive candles. By the time the Westport Fire Department became aware of the fire, it had a significant start. Although many of the items within the church were saved (vestments, relics, etc), the building was deemed a total loss and was later demolished.

A new church was built nearly 5 years after the incident with assistance from insurance monies and parish fundraising. The new church was dedicated in 1985 by Bishop Stanislaus Brzana.

St. Philip of Jesus Church - Willsboro

Who is St. Philip of Jesus?

Philip of Jesus (Spanish: Felipe de Jesús) was a Novohispanic Catholic missionary who became one of the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan, the first Mexican saint and patron saint of Mexico City. Philip was born in Mexico City in 1572. Though unusually frivolous as a boy, he joined the Reformed Franciscans of the Province of St. Didacus, founded in Mexico by Peter Baptista, with whom he suffered martyrdom later. After some months in the Order, Philip grew tired of religious life, left the Franciscans in 1589, took up a mercantile career, and went to the Philippines, another Spanish colony, where he led a life of pleasure. Later he desired to re-enter the Franciscans and was again admitted at Manila in 1590.

After some years it was determined that he was ready for ordination and sent to Mexico for this, since the episcopal see of Manila was vacant at that time, and thus no bishop was available locally to ordain him. He sailed on the San Felipe on 12 July 1596, but a storm drove the vessel upon the coast of Japan. The governor of the province confiscated the ship and imprisoned its crew and passengers, among whom were another Franciscan friar, Juan de Zamorra, as well as three other friars, two Augustinians and a Dominican. The discovery of soldiers, cannon and ammunition on the ship led to the suspicion that it was intended for the conquest of Japan, and that the missionaries were merely to prepare the way for the soldiers. This was also said, falsely and unwarrantably, by one of the crew, and it enraged the Japanese TaikōToyotomi Hideyoshi, generally called Taicosama by Europeans. In consequence, he commanded on December 8, 1596, the arrest of the Franciscans in the friary at Miako, now Kyoto, whither Philip had gone.[2]

The friars were all kept prisoners in the friary until December 30, when they were transferred to the city prison. There were six Franciscan friars, seventeen Japanese Franciscan tertiaries and the Japanese Jesuit Paul Miki, with his two native servants. The ears of the prisoners were cropped on January 3, 1597, and they were paraded through the streets of Kyoto; on January 21 they were taken to Osaka, and thence to Nagasaki, which they reached on February 5, 1597. They were taken to a mountain near Nagasaki city, "Mount of the Martyrs", bound upon crosses, after which they were pierced with spears. Philip was beatified in 1627 by Urban VIII, and, with his companions, canonized 8 June, 1862, by Pius IX. He is the patron saint of the city of Mexico.