The History of the Miraculous Medal Church

1949 -- 50th Anniversary -- 1999

Hampton, New Hampshire

The History of the Miraculous Medal

Booklet cover

The Miraculous Medal

The Medal of the Immaculate Conception, commonly called the Miraculous Medal, was manifested to Sister (now Saint) Catherine Labouré, a spiritual daughter of St. Louise de Marillac and St. Vincent de Paul. This took place in the chapel of the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity, 140 rue du Bac, Paris, France.

Sister Catherine, during her novitiate days, received extraordinary favors from God, such as visions of the heart of St. Vincent and manifestations of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. In 1830 she was blessed with the apparitions of Mary Immaculate to which we owe the Miraculous Medal.

Sister Catherine's description of the apparition of Our Lady on November 27, 1830 makes it clear that the Medal originated with the Mother of God herself. 'Her feet rested on a white globe... I saw rings on her fingers.. .Each ring was set with gems.. .the larger gems emitted greater rays and the smaller gems, smaller ray .... I could not express.. .what I saw, the beauty and the brilliance of the dazzling rays.' Catherine heard an interior voice: 'These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask". An oval frame formed around the Blessed Virgin, and within it in letters of gold Catherine read the words: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." The voice spoke again: "Have a Medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.'

Catherine continued '...the tableau seemed to turn, and I beheld the reverse of the Medal: a large M surmounted by a bar and a cross; beneath the M were the hearts of Jesus and Mary, the one crowned with thorns, the other pierced with a sword."

The front of the Medal represents Mary standing on the earth, her foot crushing the head of a serpent, and her hands outstretched to all who ask her assistance. The prayer encircling her contains one of her most precious titles: "0 Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." The rays of light from her hands symbolize the graces which she is only too eager to bestow upon those who wear the Medal and pray to her.

The Medal was made according to Our Lady's design. It was freely circulated and in a short time was worn by millions. In its wake followed innumerable wonders. Health was restored, sickness banished; bad habits broken, special graces given; dangers averted, blessings bestowed - until the little Medal of the Immaculate Conception became known by the name it bears today, the Miraculous Medal.

On July 27, 1947, the Church of St. Peter in Rome was filled with a great throng of people and to the joy of the people, Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, solemnly proclaimed Sister Catherine a Saint of God.

The Most Reverend John Brendan McCormack, D.D. Ninth Bishop of Manchester

History of the Parish of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

On the stroke of midnight, December 24, 1948, over five hundred residents of the town of Hampton assisted at the first midnight Mass to be said in the three hundred ten years of Hampton's history.

This Mass celebrated by the Reverend Leo K. Ryan of St. Joseph Cathedral, also officially opened the new church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, the first permanent Catholic church to be erected in the town.

In 1907, the town was organized as a mission of St. Michael's Church of Exeter, and a movement was launched to raise funds for the erection of a church in Hampton. In 1914, construction was commenced on St. Patrick's Church, Hampton Beach. Meanwhile, Masses were being said during the summer months in the new Hampton Beach Casino, and during the winter, in the Town of Hampton.

In the Spring of 1917, St. Patrick's Church at Hampton Beach was dedicated and the town was organized as a mission of St. Joseph Cathedral of Manchester. The Reverend P.J. Scott became the first rector of the Hampton Mission. He was succeeded in 1921 by the Right Reverend Jeremiah S. Buckley.

In view of the fact that the new church was designed solely for use during the summer months, it was necessary, during the winter, for Hampton Catholics to attend Mass in nearby towns.

By 1930, however, the resident Catholic population had become so large it was deemed desirable to conduct services during the winter months. Accordingly, under the direction of the Right Reverend Edward A. Clark who had succeeded the Right Reverend Jeremiah S. Buckley as rector in 1928, the community hall, located over the Hampton Beach Fire Department, was procured for the purpose of celebrating Sunday Masses. This arrangement was followed for several years with the priests coming from St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester.

In 1936 construction was commenced on a chapel which was to be attached to St. Patrick's Church. Dedicated in August of 1937, this chapel not only increased the summer seating capacity of the church to 1,070, but in as much as it was equipped with a heating system it became the place of worship for residents during the winter. This arrangement served with decreasing satisfaction until 1949 when the Hampton population had reached proportions requiring more spacious quarters.

The planning for a new church had commenced earlier when in 1945 the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire acquired land on Lafayette Road in Hampton. Accordingly, in the summer of 1948, construction began on the Church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal; a structure of New Hampshire red brick and of colonial design. The church, designed to harmonize with the other public buildings of the town, was completed in December of 1948.

In January 1949, the reverend Matthew J. Casey, a native of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who saw service as an Army Chaplain during World War II, came from Lincoln, New Hampshire to become the first Hampton pastor.

The early days were not without their difficulties. The rectories were temporary and at some distance from the church. Funds had to be raised that the debt might be paid and the parish complex completed. Although he was alone as a priest, Father Casey was not alone as a person. The men formed their club, later on to become the Holy Name Society, and the women formed the Catholic Women's Club. They launched their projects in the original church hall.

By 1963 the material building of the parish was complete. As background for the church, a permanent rectory was added. A spacious convent was provided for the Sisters of Mercy who came to staff the Sacred Heart School. The school opened in September of that year and became the most important adjunct of the church.

The Bishop of Manchester, in the year 1966, looked upon this community and its labor and found that it was good. In that year, he honored it. At his request, the Papal See named Father Casey a Domestic Prelate. The honor was intended not only for Monsignor Casey, but also for the parish. During the ensuing years, Monsignor Casey felt that his work of administration was complete. In 1972 he retired.

In the ensuing years there have been four pastors serving the parish:

Rev. Dennis L. O'Leary (1972 - 1980 Rev. Msgr. James P. Watson (1983 - 1988) Rev. Gerard A. Boucher (1980 - 1983) Rev. George E. Ham (1988 present)

During the past ten years the parish has experienced a more rapid period of growth than at any other time since its founding in 1949. Under Father Ham's leadership, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish has become a vibrant physical and spiritual community consisting of approximately 8,000 parishioners.

Reverend Monsignor Matthew J. Casey Founding Pastor

A Chronological Review of the Past 50 Years

1948 The first Mass in Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church was celebrated at midnight, December 24th by Rev. Leo K. Ryan. It was the first permanent Catholic church in town

The Rectory

1962 Additional land was acquired for expansion.

1949 Rev. Matthew J. Casey, native of Portsmouth, came from Lincoln, NH to become the first pastor.

1963 A permanent rectory and convent were added. Sacred Heart School opened in Sept.

1964 Additional land was acquired for school playing fields

The St. Vincent de Paul Society

1972 Monsignor Casey retired.

1974 Silver Jubilee (25 years) of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal was celebrated

1989 The St. Vincent de Paul Society was established with the subsequent erection of a new building for its food pantry and thrift shop.

1990 St. Elizabeth's Church in Seabrook Beach became part of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal for year round services.

St. Elizabeth's Church Seabrook, N.H.

1993 Complete restoration of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church including the addition of a new sacristy and an elevator.

1996 Eight classrooms were added to Sacred Heart School The choir loft was expanded with the addition of a new custom designed pipe organ by Casavant Freres.

1998 The basement of the church was completely remodeled.

1999 Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal celebrates its Golden Anniversary.

Before renovations, 1992

After renovations, 1993

Our Lady of
The Miraculous Medal Church


October 3, 1999

Dear Friends:

As many of you know, the celebration of our fiftieth anniversary began with the 1998 Christmas midnight Mass, commemorating the first Mass celebrated in Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church at Christmas midnight in 1948. During the past nine months we have celebrated with a dinner dance, a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Catherine Labouré in Paris, and a parish picnic in June. Today marks the end of our celebration as we join Bishop John B. McCormack in commemorating the dedication of our church by Bishop Matthew F. Brady on October 2, 1949.

As we give thanks to God for these fifty years of parish life and the tremendous growth that has taken place among the Catholic community of the Hampton area, we are particularly indebted to the many priests, religious, and laity, who have done so much to build up the kingdom of God in this community.

Our celebration today is dedicated to the memory of Msgr. Matthew J. Casey, our founding pastor, who in his twenty-three years of priestly ministry here established the firm foundation of what we enjoy today.

A special word of appreciation is also due to the many people who have planned and coordinated the various aspects of our anniversary celebrations, particularly Lea Downer, who has served as general chairman of our anniversary celebration, and Attorney H. Alfred Casassa, who was responsible for updating our parish history.

As we rejoice and give thanks to God for these past fifty years, may we also renew our intentions to work together to be faithful guardians of Christ's Word and effective messengers in bringing His love to others.

May God bless us all at this joyful time.


Rev George Ham

Priests Who Have Served the Parish

l. to r.: Rev. Michael J. Griffin, Senior Priest, Rev. George E. Ham, Pastor, Rev. Daniel J. Sinibaldi, Parochial Vicar


Rev. Msgr. Matthew J. Casey (1949 - 1972)
Rev. Dennis L. O'Leary (1972 - 1980)
Rev. Gerard A. Boucher (1980 - 1983)
Rev. Msgr. James P. Watson (1983 - 1988)
Rev. George E. Ham (1988 - Present)


Rev. Leo Declos (1955 - 1957)
Rev. Albert S. Cameron (1957 - 1960)
Rev. Stephen W. Scruton (1960 - 1963)
Rev. Alfred Gagliano (1963 - 1965)
Rev. John V. Moran (1965 - 1968)
Rev. Anthony Michalick (1968 - 1970)
Rev. John P. McAndrew (1970 - 1972)
Rev. Richard J. Kelley (1972 - 1977)
Deacon Joseph T. Maguire (1972 - 1973)
Rev. Louis A. Soucey (1973 - 1974)
Rev. Arthur J. Kelliher (1974 - 1975)
Rev. Daniel F. Szopa (1976 - 1979)
Rev. Roger E. Fournier (1977 - 1982)
Rev. George H. Robichaud (1979 - 1982)
Rev. Gordon J. MacRae (1982 - 1983)
Rev. Robert E. Gorski (1983 - 1987)
Rev. Kevin T. Connor (1987 - 1990)
Rev. Richard H. Wegman (1990 - 1996)
Rev. A. Stephen Marcoux (1996 - 1998)
Rev. Daniel J. Sinibaldi (1998 -        )
Rev. John M. Grace (Summer 1992)
Rev. Michael J. Griffin, [Sr. Priest] (1992 -        )
Rev. Msgr. Albert W. Olkovikas
[Weekend Assistant]
(1990 -        )
Rev. Msgr. Paul D. Gleason
[Weekend Assistant]
(1996 -        )

Parish Council Presidents

John J. Chernesky 1970 - 1971
George Downer 1971 - 1972
Robert Preston 1972 - 1973
John A. Bellerose 1973 - 1974
George W. Hammond 1974 - 1975
Lea Downer 1975 - 1979
Diana Lamontagne 1979 - 1981
Marion Chabot 1981 - 1984
Daniel Coughlin 1984 - 1985
Robert Casazza 1985 - 1987
Carole Reneselaer 1987 - 1989
Barbara Ryan 1989 - 1992
Michael Robidas 1992 - 1995
Brian Buckley 1995 - 1997
John Zinka 1997 - 1999

Holy Name Society

Past Presidents

1949 —       John J. Foley
1949—1951 George J. Gaudreau
1951—1952 Donald T. Murphy
1952—1953 Robert R. Gushing
1953—1954 Arthur C. Moulton
1954—1955 George S. Downer
1955—1956 John L. O'Dea
1956—1957 John D. Long
1957—1958 John E. Johnston
1958—         Dr. John W. O'Brien
1958—1959 Robert E. Chandler
1959—1960 Lawrence J. McKillop
1960—1961 Kenneth Buell
1961—1963 John J. Starvish, Sr.
1963—1964 Dr. Louis B. Winkler
1964—1965 William J. Ames
1965—1966 James P. McQuillan
1966—1967 Alphonse J. Lemire
1967—1968 Ernest R. Gregorowicz
1968—1969 John J. Chernesky
1969—1970 John A. Bellerose
1970—1971 Richard R. Bussieres
1971—1972 Laurent D. Bosse
1972—1973 Roger M. Charpentier
1973—1974 Floyd W. Danico
1974—1975 Robert F. Carney
1975—1976 Horace A. Desrochers, Jr.
1976—1977 Richard J. Ladd
1977—1978 Paul Buell
1978—1979 Ellsworth Preston
1979—1980 William Gillick
1980—1981 Thomas Martin
1981—1982 Edward Sullivan
1982—1983 Raymond Sheehan
1983—1984 Alfred Casavant
1984—1985 John D. Hebert
1985—1986 Jay Tanzer
1986—1987 Jack Lessard
1987—1988 Paul Lepere
1988—1989 Michael Call
1989—1990 Peter Laudansky
1990—1991 John F. McCluskey
1991—1992 Daniel Driscoll
1992—1993 Bernard Arguin
1993—1994 Andrew Morse
1994—1995 Paul E. Lessard
1995—1996 John M. Kelleher
1996—1997 Philip Fili
1997—1998 Walter Davis
1998—1999 David Hopkins
1999—        Francis McNeil

Bishop Matthew F. Brady
Council # 5093

Past Grand Knights

1960 — 1961 Edward Preston
1961 — 1962 Larry Cafarella
1962 — 1963 Edward Fritz
1963 — 1964 Merle Harmon
1964 — 1965 William Simmel
1965 — 1966 Earl Chabot
1966 — 1967 Cliff Abbey
1967 — 1968 Charles Keiling
1968 — 1969 George Brown
1969 — 1971 Charles Keiling
1971 — 1973 William Simmel
1973 — 1974 James Shaw
1974 — 1975 Keith Hayward
1976 — 1977 Chester Starvish
1977 — 1979 William Simmel
1979 — 1981 Charles Keiling
1981 — 1990 Robert Ficke
1990 — 1991 James Latimer
1991 — 1993 Richard Beaulieu
1993 — 1995 Dennis Jacobs
1995 — 1997 Richard Walsh
1997 — 2000 David Hagen

Catholic Women's Club

Past Presidents

1947-48 Viola Fagan
1948-49 Mary Fogarty
1949-50 Elizabeth Cushing
1950-51 Gladys Ring
1951-52 Eileen Breen
1952-53 Mary Long
1953-54 Mary Jane Soucy
1955-56 Rita Nudd
1955-56 Mary McCarthy
1956-57 Jo-Ann Daniels
1957-58 Jane Chamberlain
1958-59 Virginia Parizo
1959-60 Augustine McNerney
1960-61 Madeline Jackson
1961-62 Carole Norwell
1962-63 Beatrice Perkins
1963-64 Clarice Casassa
1964-65 Karleen Waters
1965-66 Mary Chenesky
1966-67 Mary Preston
1967-68 Margaret McClare
1948-69 Grace Hammond
1969-70 Lucille McIlveen
1970-71 Anne Kutlowski
1971-72 Louise Mantegani
1972-73 Lea Downer
1973-74 Elizabeth Weinhold
1974-75 Elizabeth Ruder
1975-76 Eileen Reynolds
1976-77 Marie Hammond
1977-78 Beverly Prakop
1978-79 Irene Cunningham
1979-80 Mary P. Ryan
1980-81 Lorraine Johnson
1981-82 Mary Moynihan Naphen
1982-83 Irene Cunningham
1983-84 Alice Downer
1984-85 Shirley Houlihan
1985-86 Jeannine St. Germain
1986-87 K. Claire Bourque
1987-89 Constance Lessard Vogt
1989-91 Karen Ciasulli
1991-93 Daragh B. Shannon
1993-94 Karen Ciasulli
1994-97 Kathleen M. Campion
1997-99 Daragh B. Shannon
1997-99 Constance Lessard Vogt