BOISSONNAULT, REV. J. A.   Rev. Father DANIELOU took charge of the Catholic parish of St. Johnsbury in 1858. The people had hitherto enjoyed only occasional religious services, led by Fathers DROLET, MALONEY, and O'REILLY, as missionaries. Father DANIELOU completed the old church, built the first rectory, and bought the Catholic cemetery in Summerville. He also started the building now used as a boys' school. In 1874 Father BOISSONNAULT was appointed pastor of “Our Lady of Victory” church, St. Johnsbury.

      During his first year he completed the boys' school building. To facilitate the further development of the school, the commercial department will be transferred in September of this year to St. Agnes' hall, under the care of the reverend brothers of St. Gabriel, Montreal, who are already well and favorably known in St. Johnsbury. In 1876 he bought ground for a Catholic cemetery, and the same year built the church at Lyndonville, and installed the chime of three bells in the home church on the Fourth of July.

This was the first chime located in the state of Vermont. 

      In 1877 the Sisters of Charity came to St. Johnsbury and lent their devoted efforts to the church work. In June, 1878, the pastor purchased a residence for the nuns on Cherry street. In September, 1879 the reverend sisters of the Congregation de Notre-Dame, Montreal, assumed the direction of the school. During the summer of 1882 the present convent building was erected at a cost of about $25,000. 

      The spacious residence which the priest now occupies was purchased in February, 1884. 

      During the twenty-nine years of his pastorate, Father BOISSONNAULT has spent nearly $200,000 upon buildings and real estate, for church purposes. 

      Rev. L. MARCEAU, from the Quebec diocese, has been associated as curate with Father BOISSONNAULT since 1888. In him the pastor has always found an able and zealous assistant in all that concerns the welfare of his people. Father MARCEAU has charge of the missions depending on St. Johnsbury. In 1899 he built churches in Greensboro, Victory, and Granby. 

      This brief outline of the material improvement is an index of the numerical growth and spiritual uplift of the church. The number of families has doubled and there have been more than 3,500 baptisms. 

      Rev. J. A. BOISSONNAULT was born at St. Valentine, P. Q., in 1841, graduated from the Montreal college in 1863, and the same year began his theological studies 

      After his ordination in 1866, he was named assistant pastor at Sault au Recollet, and in 1869 came to Vermont, taking charge of the new congregation at Rutland Later he was appointed rector at Fairhaven, which comprised the missions of Castleton, Orwell, Shoreham, and Proctorsville. During that time he built churches at Fairhaven and Shoreham. His latest great work of beneficence was the founding and erection of the St. Johnsbury hospital, an elaborate brick structure, costing about $20,000. The hospital is in charge of the Sisters of Providence, Montreal, whose careful training for hospital work counts for the success which crowns their work. 

      Probably no other man in this state with his limited means has ever been instrumental in providing so many resources for church, charitable, and educational work as Father Boissonnault. His influence has ever been a tower of strength in the cause of temperance and morality, and he is held in the highest esteem by all our citizens.

Source:  Successful Vermonters, William H. Jeffrey, E. Burke, Vermont, The Historical Publishing Company, 1904, page 46-48.

Prepared by Tom Dunn, January 2003