About Our Parish

Beginnings

The Parish of St. Katharine Drexel has its roots in two other Lakes Region parishes. St. Joan of Arc in Alton had its beginnings in 1888 as a mission church of St. Leo in Gonic and then a mission church of St. Anthony's in Sanbornville. It was established as a parish in 1961. St. Paul's in Barnstead became its mission church. On May 11, 2000, a fire destroyed the church.

The Parish of St. Cecilia also began in the 1880's, when it was known as the Church of the Sacred Heart. With the growth of the community as a summer resort, the church was established on donated land on Beatrice Street. The church was dedicated as St. Cecilia in 1908. The South Main Street land was acquired in 1932 and the church moved to that location in 1941.

Growing Through Change

In 2002 the churches merged to become St. Katharine Drexel Parish with Fr. George Ham as Pastor.
In July 2004, ground was broken for a new church near the junctions of Route 28 and 28A in Alton. The church was dedicated July 30, 2005. In 2006, St. Paul's Mission church was closed. In August 2006, the lower level of the building was dedicated to Msgr. Leo St. Pierre, who had served as pastor of St. Cecilia for more than 30 years. Msgr. St. Pierre passed away in 2008.

In January of 2008, Fr. George Ham passed away. He was the Pastor for St. Katharine Drexel for six years. Prior to that, he was the Pastor for Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Hampton. Fr. Ham was ordained on May 6, 1967.

In April of 2008, St. Katharine Drexel welcomed Rev. Robert Cole as our new Pastor. Fr. Cole was the pastor for St. Joseph's Church in Dover for 13 years. Fr. Cole was ordained in 1972. He first served at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Manchester. Successive parishes included Holy Trinity Parish in Somersworth, St. James Parish in Portsmouth, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Mathew in Plymouth.

Looking to the Future

At Baptism, Catholics are commissioned to be “priests, prophets, and kings”—sanctifying our lives and our world through prayer, sacrament, and service;  teaching humanity the Good News of salvation by example as well as by advocacy, and governing responsibly  our individual lives, families, local communities, states and nations, and parish organizations. 

Saint Katharine Drexel Parish is already a welcoming, inclusive community—not an exclusive, “members only” club.  Having met the challenges of uniting two older parishes and establishing a new church on a new campus midway between their locations, we are turning our attention and our talents outward, reachi ng out to our neighbors in need and to our sister parishes in other towns and other countries.

Our Parish has received extraordinary blessings, and we are in turn sharing the bounty that we have received—our volunteers’ time, our parishioners’ talents, and our financial capability—with others in the imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As Pope Francis himself said recently, “ And also our work with brothers in need, our charitable works of mercy, lead us to the Lord, because it is in the needy brother and sister that we see the Lord himself.”

It is with this in mind that we look to a future of service and love of God and His people.