Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

St Feehans on Chestnut Ridge Road

September 17th, 2009, Promulgated by Choir

The picture on the left is from Genesee Country Museum in Mumford.

Over one hundred and fifty five years ago a small band of sturdy Irishmen built St. Feehan’s Church in Chili from trees they felled themselves. The church was first situated down on swampy land near the railroad tracks that today runs parallel to 490. Within a year, with their own hands and without architect or contractor, they had completed St. Feehan’s and affixed a simple wooden cross at its peak.

Due to the swampiness of the ground it made the church difficult to reach during certain seasons so it was moved to Chestnut Ridge Road (then it was called Sand Ridge). Until 1885, the church was a mission of the St. Mary of the Assumption in Scottsville whose priest would ride horseback or in a carriage each Sunday (back then there was no Mass of anticipation on Saturday, only on Sunday). The Scottsville priest also serve St. Patrick’s in Mumford too.

Then, about 1885, as the railroad pushed through, it was decided the Churchville priest at St. Vincent dePaul could serve it better.

Priests serving St. Feehan’s were in better shape!

The railroad tracks ran adjacent to the church property so, for years, until the arrival of the automobile, the Churchville priest would pump the eight miles from his own parish to St. Feehan’s by rail hand car.

The picture is an example of a rail car. None of the men are priests.

St. Feehan’s had known ups and downs (no pun in-10-did) through the years. For a time, when populations seemed to be shifting towards the city of Rochester, its congregation dwindled. But as the World War II families started moving to the suburbs, there was an upsurge of parishioners. By way of interest, St. Feehan’s was originally spelled “Fechan” after an Irish saint whose history is somewhat obscure.

In 1954, Bishop James E. Kearney thought that St. Feehan was unknown to the people, and since St. Pius Tenth had just been canonized, he decided to dedicate a new parish in Chili to the honor of the new saint. St. Feehan’s was temporarily used as a youth center, and its pews were discarded. Those pews installed in St. Feehan’s during its restoration came from St. Mary’s in Scottsville. The pews in St. Feehan’s today are those upon which its builders sat when they journeyed to Scottsville to attend Mass before their own church was built.

Where did St. Feehan’s go?

Today, St. Feehan’s is the Catholic Church at Genesee Country Museum in Mumford. It was the site of a Tridentine Latin Nupital Mass for a friend of mine in the spring of 1993. That is a story all by itself.

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7 Responses to “St Feehans on Chestnut Ridge Road”

  1. Choir,

    Thank you for these historical sketches. They may not generate comments, but certainly I'm not the only one who enjoys them.

  2. Dr. K says:

    I'll second that. Keep 'em coming!

    ~Dr. K

  3. Thanks. Sure I'll keep 'em coming. It shouldn't be a problem. Getting good pictures is a problem, especially of the inside.

  4. Honorious IV says:

    I love the history articles. I think the only reason people don't post comments is because they look at you like a professor! lol jk

  5. Honorious — Believe me, I am NO professor. Actually I'm unemployed and have too much time on my hands. I really like Church music and Church history, especially the DoR, but also early Colonial American history, the founding of the US, Jeffersonian Republicanism, etc. My two favorite places are Colonial Williamsburg and Rome, actually all of Italy.

    Thank you for writing and I'm glad that you enjoy the article.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well Choir,

    I think historian for Cleansing fire should should be a paid postion, with the quality of work you put out.

    I had better post annon.

  7. Gen says:

    If you're looking to make a donation, my hands are outstretched. lol

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