About Saint Peter Church
The first Mass celebrated in Danbury took place in 1845 at the home of James Doyle in Grassy Plains for the town’s estimated sixty to seventy Catholics. Fr. Michael Lynch, made the trip to Danbury from the county’s first Catholic parish, St. James (later renamed St. Augustine) founded nine years earlier. With the arrival of new immigrants, Catholicism came to the hitherto Yankee Land of Steady Habits.
When the next parish was founded, St. Mary, in Norwalk in 1848, the spiritual care of Danbury’s Catholics was assigned to its pastor, the Rev. John D. Brady. For three years Danbury relied on Fr. Brady’s periodic visits, until March 30, 1851 when the Bishop of Hartford, Bernard O’Reilly, created the parish of St. Peter and appointed Fr. Thomas Ryan as its first pastor. In June of that same year, the parish, now consisting of about 400 parishioners, purchased the Universalist’s church building on the northwest corner of Main and Wooster Streets. St. Peter Parish, the first parish in western Fairfield County and third oldest, had set down roots.
The early decades of the parish’s history are distinguished by vigorous growth in the number of communicants and indefatigable efforts to develop a parish plant. On August 28, 1870, the cornerstone of the present church was laid. The neo-Gothic edifice was dedicated five years later on December 13. Next the school was erected and opened for the 1886-87 school year staffed by the Sisters of Mercy under the leadership of Sr. Mary Bernard Freehan. Before the close of the century an impressive rectory and convent had been built, and the handsome complex situated in the heart of the city had taken form.
Saint Peter Parish enjoys a long and distinguished history, having served the Catholic faithful and wider community for over a century and a half. In the more recent decades the parish has become the spiritual home for Brazilian and Latino Catholics who have settled in Danbury. Through the celebration of the Liturgy and Sacraments, catechetical formation and faith enrichment and outreach services, Saint Peter Parish continues its mission to be a place where the living God is encountered.