a brief history of Holy Family Church
As a parish family, the
Catholic community of Rockland,
Massachusetts has grown impressively in one hundred
twenty years. When Holy Family was founded in 1882, the town had a
population of about 4,000 people, of whom only one-fourth were Catholic.
Today, Rockland’s population exceeds 18,000 and over 60% are
In 1872, a decision was made to establish a Catholic parish in East
Abington, which became known as Rockland upon the incorporation of the
new town (March 9, 1874). The first Mass at Holy Family was celebrated
on Christmas Day, 1882, in what is now the lower church. This was quite
an accomplishment for a small Catholic community, to have funded and
completed the construction of a church in such a short time. On May 30,
1886, Holy Family Church was dedicated, with Archbishop John Williams
In the early 1900’s, Holy Family was both the spiritual and social
home for parishioners. Many Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants had
settled in Rockland, home to a then-thriving shoe industry. The parish
became central in their lives, as Rockland retained its small-town
feeling well into the mid-twentieth century. In 1941, Holy Family Church
opened an eight-room parochial school.
Housing construction in Rockland expanded rapidly following World War
II. The town’s population doubled to more than 12,000 during the 50’s.
As the population grew, so too did the need for more classroom space,
and in the 1960’s a new sixteen room parochial school was built.
Enrollment swelled to over 800 students. Due to dwindling
enrollment, Holy Family School closed in June 2018.
Over the past forty years, the town has seen further construction: the
addition of two senior citizen complexes, a large subsidized-housing
development, and a retirement community for persons aged 55 and over.
Beginning in the 1950’s, many families moved to Rockland from Boston
and its immediate environs. Rockland today has become a quasi-urban
setting, all the while retaining its sense of being a small town. The
parish has changed with the town, being now less a rural or suburban
parish and more like an urban parish (with trees!)
Since its founding over a century ago, the parish has adjusted to meet
the needs of its parishioners. We are strong and vibrant, and we’re
aware that we have to identify the continually-changing needs of the
People of God. The spirit of Holy Family is best expressed in our Prayer
for Parish Renewal:
"Lord God, You love us
with an everlasting love; and You chose us to share Your love with
others. WE ask that You rekindle in our hearts a new spirit of
faith, of prayer and of reconciliation. Inspire us to search out and
find ways of bringing one another closer to You. We pray for all who
form our parish community, that together we may be continually
renewed and transformed. All this we ask in the name of Jesus and
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Our main "campus" is located at 403
Union Street, and includes our magnificent church, our rectory, the
parish school, the
Religious Education office, the parish library,
thrift shop, and headquarters of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. There
is substantial parking (and designated handicapped spaces). Both upper
and lower churches are handicapped-accessible.
Off Market Street is Holy Family
comprising nearly 50 acres of land.
Holy Family is a Roman Catholic Church in