The First Bishop of the Saint John Diocese of America

Bishop William Dollard
william dollard

From 1674 to 1829, New Brunswick was part of the Diocese of Quebec with itinerant priests travelling to cover the region. From 1823 to 1833, Rev. Dollard served as resident missionary, appointed by Bishop Plessis of the Diocese of Quebec. One of his first tasks was the construction of St. Patrick’s church in Nelson which was started in 1824. The church was built near the site of "Malcolm’s Chapel" on ten acres of land which had been purchased in 1814 from John Malcolm by Rev. Charles Ffrench. St. Patrick’s church escaped the great Miramichi Fire of 1825 and construction was completed in 1826.William Dollard was the first Roman Catholic Bishop of New Brunswick. He was born on the 29th of November 1789 in Bathkyram, Ireland. He was ordained as a priest on the 12th of October, 1817.

Rev. Dollard made Bartibog his headquarters until 1826 at which time he moved to St. Patrick’s in Nelson and served the Miramichi region from there. On 30 September 1842 the province of New Brunswick was formed into a separate diocese and Father William Dollard was appointed the first Bishop of the Saint John Diocese of America.

On the 11th of June 1843 he was ordained as Bishop of that Diocese.

In 1833 Rev. Dollard went to Fredericton as a missionary priest and upon the death of Rev. Michael McSweeney, the first pastor of St. Dunstan’s (1826 -1836), he was appointed pastor of St. Dunstan’s in 1836. Seven years later, as the first Bishop of New Brunswick, he established in Fredericton the provinces’s first episcopal seat.

Bishop Dollard passed away, at the age of 61, on the 20th of August, 1851 after spending almost 34 years as a priest and 8 as a Bishop.

Two of William’s grand-nephews also served as clergy in Canada: Rev. James Dollard, born at Mooncoin, County Kilkenny, Ireland August 30, 1872 to Michael and Anastasia (Quinn) Dollard, was a Parish Priest of St. Monica’s church in North Toronto and was also a well-respected and published poet. James’ brother William Dollard, served as Parish Priest of St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

The Dollards are descended from an old Norman family who went to England with William, the Conqueror, and later to Ireland with the first English invaders.