The Altar Rock

In 1853, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated in the Mad River Valley for the first time. For an altar, Fr. Jeremiah O’Callaghan used a large flat rock in a pasture on South Hill in Moretown, Vermont (pictured above).

Father O’Callaghan was the first priest assigned to care for the spiritual needs of Catholics in Vermont. He was sent to Vermont in 1833 by Benedict Fenwick, Bishop of Boston. At that time, the Diocese of Boston included the entire state of Vermont.

During the 1920s, a granite marker was placed on top of the “altar rock” to commemorate the first Mass celebrated in the Mad River Valley and Father O’Callaghan.

A close-up view of the “altar rock” and its inscription.

Sometime in 1993 or 1994 the Most Reverend Kenneth A. Angell, Bishop of Burlington visited the Mad River Valley and the site of the first Mass celebrated in the Valley.

Pictured here are the Reverend Kevin E. Rooney, pastor of our Lady of the Snows Church and its mission, St. Patrick Church, Jennette Fecteau, Bishop Angell and Evelyn Goss.

Father Bernard W. Bourgeois, pastor of Saint Andrew’s Parish and Our Lady of the Snows and Saint Patrick Parish at the “altar rock”. The picture was taken on May 23, 2003. (Photo by Pat Gore, Vermont Catholic Tribune)