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There is no record of early Catholic missionaries to Watkins. From 1850 to 1854 Rev. James Cunningham of Elmira visited regularly. In approximately 1846 or 1847 the Catholics bought a church, constructed in 1833, from the Presbyterians. In 1865 a new church, seating four hundred and costing twenty-two thousand dollars, was built under the direction of Father Dennis English of Penn Yan. The first resident pastor, Father James C. McManus, arrived in February 1869 and remained for three years. The church was in the Buffalo Diocese as of 1876.