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. Reverend Antonio M. Freitas, a native of Sao Jorge Island in the Azores, was the pastor of St. John the Baptist. He established the Mission of St. Anthony in Fall River and held 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 sacraments, but their visits became less frequent until the mission closed on March 3, 1878.
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 Irish and French churches and felt alienated from the Catholic community. At this time, Protestants from the Baptist Temple, located where our church now stands, also attempted to convert the Portuguese.