A Rich History in the
"Eye of the Commonwealth"
La Salle is located on the property of Notre Dame Church. The Church was constructed in 1916, is a marvel of Romanesque design and was consecrated as a cathedral in 1950. Like all great cathedrals, Notre Dame Church is an expression of beauty and grace; its white marble tower soars to over two hundred ten feet. The Church has a seating capacity of fourteen hundred and the interior style is a compilation of renaissance, baroque, and some gothic, which reminds us of the chapels at Versailles and the Chateau de Blois. The church building, its thirty-two Raggi paintings, and the Casavant Organ are registered with the National Register of Historic Places and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The Raggi paintings are catalogued at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and the Boston Public Library, Department of Fine Arts.
Notre Dame Parish was founded on November 29, 1869. Under the leadership of its first pastor, Rev. M.F. LeBreton, a large wooden church was completed on Pine Street in time for the Christmas Mass of 1870. The Parish grew very fast due to the large influx of immigrants from the farms of Canada to the mills of Southbridge. In the late 1880's, the second pastor, Msgr. Georges E. Brochu, started raising funds for a larger church. In 1895 the Marcy Estate at the corner of Main and Marcy Streets was purchased as the site for the new Notre Dame Church. Msgr. Brochu died in 1904 before realizing his dream of building the new church. The third pastor, Rev. Louis O. Triganne (later Msgr.), initiated the plans for the church. He retained the services of Joseph Venne of Montreal as architect and the Roman artist Gonippo Raggi as artist-decorator. The church was built of white marble bricks which were originally intended as tombstones for the Spanish -American War. It has a red Spanish tile roof, and measures 190 feet in length. The nave is 78 feet across and the transept is 123 feet long. The construction began on March 25, 1911, the feast of the Annunciation. The church was dedicated on July 2, 1916, the feast of the Visitation. Notre Dame Church was consecrated in a 3 1/2 hour ceremony by Bishop John J. Wright, first Bishop of Worcester, on October 11, 1950, the feast of the Maternity of the Virgin Mary. The consecration of a church is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon it. Its purpose is to proclaim the consecrated edifice as a most fitting, permanent place of worship, and a church so honored is an outstanding temple of God.
All the Catholic parishes of Southbridge were merged on July 1, 2011 to create the Saint John Paul II Parish. This new parish celebrates its diversity and looks forward to a strong future serving the community in unity and love.