Saint Stephen's, Roman Catholic

St. Stephen’s is a magnificent church located on a highly visible site in the Grafton Hill area of Worcester. This parish is dedicated to both the community and to the tradition of the church’s history. Many of parishioners are of Irish descent; however, there are families from a wide range of backgrounds. Many of the families that worship here have deep roots in the parish.

The parish of St. Stephen’s was created in 1886 to accommodate the working class immigrants of the surrounding area. Parishioners celebrated the first mass in an unfinished schoolhouse attic while waiting for construction on the original church to end. The building was finally completed and dedicated in September of 1887. The present church was built in 1916 by William Donahue under the direction of the pastor at that time, Reverend Thomas McLaughlin. The complete expenditure came to a total of approximately $150,000. In later years a rectory, convent, school, and thrift shop were all part of additions to the church property.

Despite the good will of the parishioners, St. Stephen’s has encountered several financial hurdles throughout its history. In the 1930’s, the church was forced to sell its bell from the tower to the First Covenant Methodist church which is in close proximity. The high school closed its doors in 1971, unable to brave rising operating costs. Recently, however, the members of this close community pulled through financial turmoil by giving donations and organizing fund raisers in order to finance major restorations in 1988 and 1992. This is a prime example of how, for centuries, the parishioners of St. Stephen’s have rallied with their faith and strong hope to keep the church alive and running.

Today, St. Stephen’s is a well-kept church in excellent overall condition. The design of the church successfully brings celebrant and congregation close together in worship. The stained glass in this church attracts the attention of aficionados throughout the northeast. The nave contains 22 stained glass windows of saints who all overlap their boundaries and give the impression that they are about to step into the real space occupied by the worshipers. At each end of the this cruciform church are 4 large windows, all stunning in their vibrancy and stature. The interior is highly ornamented and displays much evidence of the perpendicular Gothic style in the woodwork.

The parishioners of St. Stephen’s church are committed to the community and are making strides to bring the people of the Grafton Hill area together. The church sponsors such activities as a crime watch program, an outreach service to provide food and clothing for the needy; gives meals at Christmas and Easter; and works in conjunction with the school to hold pageants and after school programs. The St. Stephen’s church community is strong, built on a foundation of over one hundred years worth of brotherhood and strong ethnic ties.
-survey conducted by Meghan Breault, Jason Holloway, and Katherine Poggio

Images of Saint Stephen's - this highly decorated interior has traces of the perpendicular Gothic style.

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