St. Denis Church

St. Denis Church, said to be named for the patron Saint of France, is the third church built to serve as a place of worship for the Catholic residents of Minudie, since the area was first settled by Acadians from Port Royal, in the spring of 1672.

In 1678, the Acadians erected a small chapel. It was located a short distance to the east of the present church. During the expulsion of the Acadians from the Minudie area in 1755, this chapel, as well as the homes of the inhabitants, was burned by British soldiers.
In 1768, once the Acadians began to return to their farmland, a second chapel was constructed on the foundation of the earlier one. It was known as St. Anne’s Chapel and served the faith community of Minudie for many years.

In 1848, Amos Seaman, businessman, and owner of a large tract of land in Minudie, donated four acres of land to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax, for the site of a new, much larger church. Construction began in the spring of that year, led by well-known local carpenter, Hilaire Arsenault. Amos Seaman also donated lumber for the church. The first mass was celebrated in the new St. Denis Church in the spring of 1849. The church bell, donated by Amos Seaman, and christened “Mary Conceived Immaculate” was rung for the first mass on December 25, 1849.

Father Thomas Lyons became the first resident priest of Minudie parish in 1832, faithfully ministering to the needs of his parishioners until his departure in 1849. The priest resided in the first of three Glebe houses located on the original road leading into the community from River Hebert. A later Glebe house, built next to the church, was moved in 1912, and is, at present time, a residence on the west side. The third, built in 1912, by Pastor Father Joseph Curry, was situated along the east side of St. Denis Church until it was moved in 1999.

From the mid to late 1800’s, the church was in continual use with Sunday Mass, weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Parishioners came from Lower Cove, Upper Cove, and the Minudie area. Oil lamps placed on the walls between the windows on each side of the church and in the sanctuary provided light. Heat came from two wood and coal stoves.