A Brief History

The St. Catherine of Siena Parish crest bears symbols which characterize both the location and the history of our church and its people.

The upper quarters and the central embossing on the cross show the four symbols of the patron of our parish:  the fleur-de-lis and book and quill (representative of the varied and successful efforts of St. Catherine to return the Papacy from its temporary location in Avignon to its original home in Rome), and the Chi-Rho and crown of thorns, evidence of the centrality of Christ in the life of St. Catherine.

The lower quarters display a codfish (symbol of Massachusetts) and the carillon tower of Norwood’s town hall.  The three mountains across the bottom of the crest are taken from the Archdiocesan shield and represent the old name of Boston – Tremont. The branches of oak leaves across the top are symbols of fortitude and strength – qualities amply displayed by generations of parishioners.


Although St. Catherine’s Parish was not formally founded until 1890, it had its deepest and most significant origins in the faith of those pioneer Catholics who settled in South Dedham (Norwood) in the mid 1840’s.  This area was then an integral part of Dedham Village located some four miles to the north.

The region now known as Norwood was then referred to as Tiot, a name given by the early Neponset Indians who had ranged across the meadows of this territory.  The name in Algonquin tongue meant “the place enclosed by water,” a reference to the several streams which can be found in the outer districts of the town.

When the early Catholics ventured into South Dedham, they found a typical New England village with relatively few business establishments and given over almost entirely to agricultural pursuits.

The future of Norwood was assured by the building of the Bird and Son paper mills in East Walpole in 1817.  A great influx of immigrants occurred in the year 1847 as the Norfolk County Railroad began laying tracks through the heart of the town.  The men who came to build for the future were men of Ireland who were fleeing the persecutions and poverty of their native land.  In the then next few years others would arrive as the Great Famine laid low countless thousands of the Irish people.  These men actually constituted the nucleus of the future St. Catherine’s Parish.

In the 100 years that have bridged two centuries, St. Catherine of Siena Parish has become an integral part of the community of Norwood.  It has contributed much to the success of the town. The past century has been marked by the steady expansion of Norwood from a “small country town” of some 7,000 residents to a fully developed suburban center with a population of 30,000. Accompanying the rapid growth of the town has been the equally remarkable growth in the membership of the Parish.

Fr. Troy was greeted by the 1,500 Catholics of Norwood in 1890. And bear in mind that three other Catholic parishes were established within the town limits (St. George’s in 1912-now closed, St. Peter’s in 1919-now closed, and St. Timothy’s in 1963, and two adjacent parishes (St. Mary’s in East Walpole and St. Denis’ in Westwood have drawn some of their congregations from St. Catherine’s Parish.

To meet the needs of the Catholics of Norwood, the small church purchased for $3,000 in 1863 has been replaced by a church and parish complex valued in the millions of dollars.  Where once an  occasional visit of a mission priest and the infrequent celebration of Mass was the rule for Norwood, there is today a resident Pastor, one parochial vicar, and various staff serving St. Catherine’s Parish. Five Sunday Masses are celebrated every weekend.

A variety of organizations – for men and women, for boys and girls, for adults and high school youth – offers to the parishioners an impressive array of religious, social, cultural, and athletic activities. There is hardly a day or night that some group is not meeting or some function is not being held somewhere on the Parish property. St. Catherine’s Parish is truly a Christian community, a caring and sharing group of pilgrims struggling along the road to heaven.  It has had a powerful influence on the lives of tens of thousands of people over the past century.  It is to be hoped that beneficial influence will continue in this century and beyond.

Vocations to the Priesthood from St. Catherine of Siena Parish

Rev. William V. Ahearn, M.M. Rev. James X. Henry
Rev. James Allen Rev. Eugene Hillman, C.S.S.P.
Rev. Walter Abel Rev. Robert Hilton
Rev. Frederick J. Adelmann, S.J. Rev. William C. Kendrick
Rev. Edward J. Banks, S.J. Rev. Anthony Kneizys
Rev. Garrett F. Barry, O.M.I. Rev. James Michael Lane, O. Carm.
Rev. Frank Breen, M.M. Rev. Charles D. Logue
Rev. John S. Cleary, O.S.A. Rev. Thomas E. MacLeod
Rev. Edward Cornell Rev. Leo J. Marsh, M.S.
Rev. John A. Coughlin Rev. Joseph McDonough, C.S.S.P.
Rev. Timothy McDonough, C.S.S.P. Rev. Francis Curran
Rev. Joseph Medio Rev. Martin S. Curran
Rev. Thomas Mulvehill, S.J. Rev. Peter Curran, O.M.I.
Rev. John R. Mulvehill Rev. Urban Curran, C.P. (Robert Curran)
Rev. Daniel J. O’Connell Rev. John J. Diskin, S.J.
Rev. Arthur Paquette, S.S.J. Rev. James D. Donovan
Rev. Alexis Paul, C.P. (Richard D. Paul) Rev. James V. Donovan, O.M.I.
Rev. Gregory Paul, C.P. (Anthony R. Paul) Rev. James J. Falconer
Rev. Xavier Praino, C.P. (Edward Praino) Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald
Rev. Rocco Puopolo, S.X. Rev. Clement M. Frazier
Rev. John Richardson Rev. Celsus Folan, O.F.M. (Bartley Folan)
Rev. Joseph Ryan, S.J. Rev. Joseph H. Frates
Rev. Francis Sullivan, S.J. Rev. John Gavin, S.J.
Rev. William Sweeney, S.S.C. Rev. Francis M. Greaney
Rev. Eugene Toner, C.S.S.P. Rev. John Grenham, O.P.
Rev. Martin J. Walsh, O.M.I. Rev. Peter Grover, O.M.V.
Rev. John J. White Bishop Paul Francis Duffy, O.M.I.