Santo Christo Parish, Logo
  Fall River, Massachusetts
(508) 676-1184

Learn About Our Church

Santo Christo Parish has served the Portuguese Catholic community in Fall River, Massachusetts, since 1892.
Learn more about the early leaders and development of our parish community.

 Fall River in the 19th Century

 In the 1870s, Fall River was quickly becoming one of the most industrialized cities in the country. Many Portuguese families came to work in the cotton mills, leaving the opportunity to practice their Catholic faith as a community. In order to receive the sacraments, they would travel to St. John the Baptist Church in New Bedford, the first Portuguese parish in North America. This costly and lengthy trip was how they nurtured their faith and preserved religious traditions for more than ten years.

Early Meetings

On March 10, 1874, the first meeting was held to establish a Portuguese mission in Fall River. This dream was not fulfilled until two years later on March 10, 1876. The Reverend Father Antonio M. Freitas, a native of São Jorge island in the Azores, was pastor of St. John the Baptist. He established the Mission of St. Anthony in Fall River and celebrated the first Masses at the Hibernian Hall, an Irish club on the corner of South Main and Spring Streets. Initially, priests from St. John traveled to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments, but their visits became less frequent until the mission closed on March 3, 1878.

 St. Anthony

 The patron saint of this early mission, St. Anthony, was born in Lisbon but lived most of his life in Padua, Italy. Most Portuguese refer to him as St. Anthony of Lisbon, but he is better known as St. Anthony of Padua.

 Without a Mission

 After the mission closed, the Portuguese community attended Mass at either St. Mary's Church on Spring Street, St. Anne's Chapel on Hunter Street, or St. Louis Church on Bradford Avenue. They struggled with the customs and language barriers at these ethnically Irish and French-Canadian churches, and felt somewhat alienated from the Catholic community (although the use of Latin in the sacred liturgy provided, and even today provides, a bond of unity among Roman Catholics of all ethnicities and languages). At this time, Protestants from the Baptist Temple, located where our church now stands, also attempted to convert the Portuguese Catholics.

Second Attempt

 Ten years later, efforts were initiated to reestablish the Mission of St. Anthony. The Reverend Father Antonio Gomes da Silva Neves, pastor of St. John the Baptist, appealed to Bishop Matthew Harkins of the Diocese of Providence (Rhode Island) to establish a Portuguese mission in Fall River. For the next three years, the mission was under the direction of the pastors of St. John the Baptist. Father Manuel C. Terra and other priests would come to the mission on the weekends and reside at the homes of local Catholics.

 An Official Parish

  As the mission continued to grow, the burden on St. John the Baptist Church became greater. With the encouragement of Father Neves, the mission officially became a parish on June 26, 1892, with the Reverend Father Cândido d'Ávila Martins as its first pastor. Upon the suggestion of Father Neves, the parish received the name Senhor Santo Christo dos Milagres.

Santo Christo Mission Statement

The parish family of Santo Christo is a bilingual and bicultural community of faith. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and under the protection of the Mother of God, we celebrate our life in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Our Mission in this new Millennium is to commit ourselves to evangelize with a renewed missionary zeal. We bear witness to Jesus Christ through our common bond of the Holy Eucharist in order to form a people of God living as one society, more just and unified.

We dedicate ourselves to bringing the Good News of life and hope as we journey to the reality of God's Kingdom.

- Parish Pastoral Council