St. Mary Parish History
Prior to 1914, Pinehurst, as many other areas of the town of Billerica, MA was primarily a summer cottage settlement. At the time there was one Catholic Church in town, Saint Andrew in North Billerica. With the growing number of Catholics in the southern part of Billerica, it was necessary for the parish of St. Andrew to become the mother Church as a mission later known as St. Mary of the Pines.
During the 1920’s and early 1930’s the growth of Pinehurst increased dramatically. This was due in part to economic factors and the gradual shift away from cities. Many families transformed their summer homes into year-round residences. Additionally, Catholics in Burlington and the Nuttings Lake area traveled to Pinehurst for Sunday Mass. The facilities of the little mission church were increasingly inadequate. Between 1914 and 1928 weekly Mass in Pinehurst was celebrated in various temporary sites.
In 1928, permission was sought and granted to begin construction on a permanent church building on property owned by the Archdiocese on the corner of Boston Road and Cook Street. Here Mass was celebrated and religious education classes were conducted in the lower level of the church of Saint Mary, still a mission of Saint Andrew.
Again, as the Catholic population continued to grow, and the demands of the mother church and the mission increased, in 1937 Cardinal O’Connell raised the Mission of Saint Andrew to the Parish of Saint Mary. By that time parishioners had completed the project of furnishing the interior of the upper church.
Saint Mary, newly established as a parish, soon became a mother church as well. In 1945 this mission of Saint Mary became the parish of Saint Margaret on Winn Street in Burlington.
By 1966, the number of Catholics in Saint Mary Parish warranted an addition to the original structure. Plans were completed that year to add what is now known as “the wing.” Air conditioning and carpeting were soon added.
In 1992, renovations were made to the original church interior, with the expansion of the sanctuary area to include new positioning of the tabernacle and the baptistery, new carpeting, and sound equipment. In recording any history, facts and dates are important, but they never tell the entire story.
The history of this parish is the history of the people – the priests and the laity – who have endured hardships for the great cause of spreading the word of the Gospel. The people of the parish, many of whom are members of the original congregation, are the true meaning of 72 years of faith.
The parish has been blessed with dedicated priests who have served the Lord and His people well. Every one of them would be the first to explain that it is God’s people who are the bulwarks of faith here at Saint Mary. May God grant that it ever be so for them, for their children and their children’s children until the Lord comes!