By: Father Clerance Thibeau



One of the year’s pressing concerns was the preparation of the candidates for Confirmation. Pastors normally give a lot of attention to these classes seeing that most of the recipients are young teenagers, who consider this sacrament their graduation from all further religious studies. Many will rely on this teenage-view of their faith for the remainder of their lives, which poses many problems later on, as adults. So pastors tend to choose experienced religion teachers, and try to involve the parents. The entire parish is encouraged to become prayerfully involved also, so as to impress upon the youngsters the importance of this Sacrament of the Holy Spirit.

Normally, the local Bishop confers Confirmation, but, in June of 1957, Bishop Lemenager was again bedridden by his recurring bronchial problems, so he enlisted the services of Bishop G.L. Landry, to preside over the Confirmation tour.

The Most Reverend George L. Landry, a native of Cape Breton, was Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Hearst, Ontario. Retired, his official title was Titular Bishop of Gnossos. He wrote a page of parochial history, when, on June 22nd l957, he conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation to 29 children and adults of the new St. Thomas Parish of Shelburne. Some years earlier, while still a mission of Immaculate Conception Parish, East Pubnico, the Most Reverend Alfred Leverman, coadjutor Bishop of the Archdiocese of Halifax, had presided at a Confirmation service in our mission church.

Accompanying Bishop Landry, was Father Arcade Theriault, Pastor of East Pubnico, and, until recently, pastor of Shelburne Mission; also, Fathers Edouard Theriault of Yarmouth, and Cecil Bourque, assistant at West Pubnico. The small Catholic Community of Shelburne had rarely, if ever, attended a religious service led by a Bishop and four priests, in the presence of such a large attendance.

Saint Thomas Altar Society, under the direction of Mrs. Joan King, directed the embellishment of the Church, for the occasion, and, in his remarks to the packed attendance, Bishop Landry praised the parishioners for their obvious zeal. He spoke at some length, explaining the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the dispositions required in each recipient, to benefit most from its reception.


Along with the preoccupying concerns of church and rectory construction, a weekly schedule of activities began to unfold: on Sundays, Masses were celebrated at the Boys School Chapel at 8:30 a.m., followed by a Mass at St. Thomas Church at 10:00 a.m., and later in the day, a 5:00 p.m. Mass at the Lockeport Mission ( on alternate Sundays). On Sunday evenings, devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help were held in St. Thomas Church at 7:l5 p.m.

Other involvements at the Boys’ School included religious classes Thursday mornings, in their classrooms, and casual chatting visits at their games’ Fridays, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 a.m. were spent at the Naval Base, meeting primarily with the Catholic personnel, but with anyone wishing to discuss some concern. As much as possible, beyond this schedule, an effort was made to locate and visit Catholics living in the various villages and Towns throughout Shelburne County, some 900- plus square miles. Annual car mileage exceeded 20 thousand miles.


Rumours began to spread that, as part of North America Defense (Norad), the U.S.A. would be setting up a radar installation at Baccaro Point, just South of Port Latour, considered the southern-most tip of Nova Scotia. Halifax, Sydney and Newfoundland would receive similar installations, all of which would be directly linked with NORAD headquarters at Colorado. Unidentified planes arriving from across the Atlantic would be challenged by jet-fighters based at Presque Isle, Maine.

The rumour became a reality, and soon, heavy equipment arrived at Baccaro, transferring a windswept, rock-dotted, landscape, into a military base including radars, dormitories, dining hall, headquarter building, maintenance shops and a hobby shop. Similar in size to the Shelburne Navy Base, U.S. officers and men at first commanded the base, but, over several years, Canadian officers and men eventually blended in and replaced the U.S. personnel.

Of interest to St. Thomas Parish, of course, would be the number of Catholic personnel, because ours would be the nearest Catholic Church, some twenty miles distant. In the Spring of 1958, an American officer turned up at the Rectory, introduced himself and the purpose of his visit, asking if I would consider being the Catholic Chaplain at the new base. He understood that the Bishop would have to approve, and when he did, I began visiting the Baccaro Air Force Base every Tuesday, duplicating my duties at the Shelburne Navy Base. Shortly thereafter, the spare seats in Church, provided by the Church extension, were occupied by U.S. airmen, a pleasant but unexpected turn of events.


Bishop Lemenager had notified us that he would be present on Sunday, July 6th,1958, to bless the new church addition. Volunteers were pressed into service to do the numberless final details of readying the Church interior and exterior, as well as the rectory, for the special event.

The events of that memorable day were as follows:

*** 3:00 to 3:50 p.m. An organ recital, on a Baldwin Electronic Organ, by F.J. Pilecki, B.A., C.A.G.O. , stationed at the U.S.A. Base , Baccaro. A number of gifted singers from the base added their talents to those of our choir, for the day.

*** 4:00 p.m. An impressive procession proceeded from the rectory grounds to the front door of the Church, led by the altar servers, followed by the enlarged choir, then the visiting clergy and Bishop Lemenager, with a Knights of Columbus color guard from Councils 2181 (Yarmouth), 1097 (Halifax) and the Kentville Columbus Club. The procession paused at the front of the Church, where the Bishop began the blessing, which included the circling of the exterior of the Church. The Rite of Blessing then continued as the procession entered the enlarged church with the singing of the Litany of the Saints, thesprinkling of Holy Water, the singing of psalms 119,120 and 121, and the final blessing. The Pastor welcomed the gathering , signalling the invited guests, beginning with the clergy: Monsignor J.Nil Theriault (Rector of St. Ambrose Cathedral, Yarmouth), Father Edouard Theriault (Diocesan Chancellor), Fr. J. Louis Comeau (Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Salmon River), Father Arcade Theriault (Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, East Pubnico), Fr. Lloyd d’Entremont ( Congregation of Jesus and Mary), Father Louis Comeau (Pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish, St. Alphonse) , Father Louis Theriault (Pastor of St. Monica Parish, Middleton).

The distinguished guests were: Sir Samuel Nichols, Knight of St. Gregory (Yarmouth), Mayor and Mrs. William Cox (Shelburne), Lt. Commander and Mrs. R.L. Ellis (Shelburne Navy Base ), Major and Mrs. H. Lewis (Baccaro Air Force Base), Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Sands (Superintendent N.S.S.B.) Dr. Donald Robb (Shelburne Hospital).

The introductions were followed by Bishop Lemenager’s address, after which followedthe reading of the document , canonically erecting the new Parish:



The Holy Father entrusts unto every Bishop the task of safe-guarding the territorial divisions and boundaries of his Diocese, and likewise of modifying them or of creating new divisions, when ever the good of Religion will result.

Since our enthronement as Bishop of Yarmouth, We have closely followed the continued progress evident in this Mission of St. Thomas the Apostle, in Shelburne, and We now find it ready and apt to become a Parish in the full sense of the word. The prosperous and attractive Town itself, the marked increase in its Catholic population, the enlargement of the Church, the Hospital and the Nova Scotia Training School for Boys, all of which are served by this same Church, these reasons yet further enhanced by the high standard of Christian life We have observed, are valid motives impelling Us to raise this Mission to the full rank of a Parish.

Be it therefore known, by these letters, that the Mission of Saint Thomas the Apostle, in the Town of Shelburne, is being raised to the rank and title of a regular Parish, with all the rights , privileges and obligations that are established by the Holy Canons of the Church. To this Parish We assign, as territory, the entire County of Shelburne, with the Church of Saint John the Baptist, at Lockeport, as Mission.

We earnestly beseech the Almighty God to bless this new living Cell in the Mystical Body of His Divine Son, and We further name Father Clarence Thibeau as first Pastor of this new Parish.

Given in Yarmouth, this Saturday, dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Fifth of July, in the Year of Our Lord, Nineteen-Hundred and Fifty-Eight, under Our Hand and Seal, and under the Signature of Our Chancellor.

+Albert Lemenager
Bishop of Yarmouth
Edouard J. Theriault
Chancellor of the Diocese of Yarmouth.

The Bishop then presided at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. At the close of the ceremony, His Excellency, seated at the altar rail, met and greeted all who attended.

Mrs. Joan King, Mrs. Elizabeth Cox, Mrs. Joan Campbell, and the Ladies of the Altar Society served a buffet lunch to the Bishop and priests. It was agreed that the blessing of the enlarged church was an impressive event, and the increased space allowed for the more impressive rites.

There was still one more event planned for this special day. Once the guests and visitors had departed, the movie “Song of Bernadette” ( story of the Shrine at Lourdes, France), had been rented and, courtesy of Charles Balish of Lockeport, it was shown that evening at his Drive-In-Theatre, on the outskirts of Shelburne, on Highway Three. Proceeds earmarked for the parish debt.