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St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church
1890 - Present

St. Rose of Lima; Photo courtesy of Barry Durham

1901 Chester Pike
(Chester Pike & Simpson St.)
Eddystone, PA 19022

Former Pastors  |  Church History  |   Membership Directory  |   School

If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about the history of this church, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

Former Pastors:


Michael Joseph Rafferty (1890-1904)
Thomas M. Cauley
W. P. Masterson
Thomas P. Ryan (1904-?)
Patrick D. Houston
Richard Moran
Charles J. Kinslow
John I. Toner
James A. Boyle
James A. Rice
James J. Duffy
John F. McElvenney
E. A. Keelan
Peter Kilroy
Andrew P. Lavin
Charles J. McGovern
James Sullivan
Timothy Lavin
James R. Hanlon
Michael F. Marley
Louis A. Eltz
Joseph A. St Clair
Stephen E. Krizin
Maurice J. Horn
John Shalvey
Francis P. Rogers (c. 1960)
E. A. Horn (Senior Priest c. 1960)
Joseph F. Clymer
Richard R. Benonis
Charles P. McMullen
Frank D. McGinty
James M. Kavanagh
Joseph L. King
William C. Kaufman
John C. Marine
William M. Fahey


Church History:


Founded 1890

The following Saint Rose of Lima Parish History 1890-1990 was contributed by Georgia Reber Elliott, reberjo@citlink.net

The soaring music of Gounod's St. Cecilia's Mass sung by the renowned choir of Saint Charles Church, Philadelphia, marked the dedication of Saint Rose of Lima Church on June 25, 1892.  This solemn ceremony was held in the first permanent parish church.  The Reverend Michael Joseph Rafferty had been assigned to organize this new parish that would serve the area along the Old Post Road between St. Clement's, Philadelphia, and St. Michael's, Chester, on December 1, 1890.  By December 20, 1890, the parish was officially incorporated.   Father Rafferty lived in Leiperville and said Mass above a corner store in Crum Lynne, as well as in Norwood for about 85 families, the first congregation of St. Rose.   Meanwhile, the building company of M. F. Felaney constructed a one story brownstone and brick church 91' by 58' with a spacious sanctuary and stained glass windows of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Archbishop Ryan blessed the building during an outside procession and then assisted at the solemn high Mass with the presider, Reverend James Trainor and the Reverends John Connell and John Rodgers.

Reverend Thomas P. Ryan succeeded Father Rafferty as pastor in 1904.  He was a great friend to the men at the Baldwin Locomotive Works and arranged the mass schedule to accommodate the many Catholic workers employed there.  Father Ryan realized that the congregation had outgrown the original church and began building the present structure on August 17, 1907.  In the "Chester Times" of June 2, 1910, Saint Rose Church is described as being "built of Leiper granite and presenting an imposing appearance standing as it does in a conspicuous place on the Chester Pike."   Senator William Sproul of Philadelphia donated a large copper bell for the belfry, which was later removed for fear its weight would weaken the church's structure.  The rededication of Saint Rose by Bishop McGinley of Nueva Careras, Philippines, took place in June, 1910.  Solemn high Mass was celebrated by Father Rafferty, the founding pastor.   This two story structure was built to accommodate the parochial school which would open under the direction of the Sister, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 2, 1916 with 148 children.  The second floor began as a large hall with movable partitions for classrooms and a wide stage along the back wall.  Before the school opened, many dramatic and musical plays were performed on that stage.  The basement was intended for the "Lyceum", a social and literary organization for the young men of the parish.  Originally, this edifice was to be converted into "The Saint Rose of Lima School" which is inscribed on the facade of the Church.   Above this inscription stands the statue of Saint Rose.  Michael F. Kelly, a stonemason born in Ireland in 1840, worked on the rebuilding of the church.  Having been instrumental in the building of St. Rose's, he was given the honor of placing the statue of Saint Rose in the niche above the main entrance.  This was his final gift to the parish as he died suddenly several hours later.

The Sisters moved from the convent in Immaculate Heart parish in Chester on September 18, 1919 to the convent secured from the Baldwin Locomotive Works.  The Sisters were so well cared for by the parishioners, that in the 1946 annals of the community, a sister wrote, "The beautiful generosity of the families of Saint Rose of Lima parish is not of recent origin; it has been strikingly characteristic all through the years since the sisters first came to Eddystone."  In 1945, Mrs. Eva Dougherty donated a beautiful statue of the Infant of Prague in gratitude for the safe return of three of her four sons from the war in Europe.  This resides next to the statue of Saint Joseph on the side altar now.  Church renovations were general during the years between 1945 and 1952, when on January 19, 1952, an electrical fire damaged the church and many of the classrooms.  Paintings were salvaged and the Blessed Sacrament was carried to the convent.  The school re-opened on the 21st of January in the Eddystone firehouse for all but the eighth grade who went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Desmond.  Sunday Masses were held in Saint Margaret Mary, Essington, while weekday liturgies were held in the convent chapel.  The women of the parish scrubbed the undamaged parts of both the Church and school so that by January 25, Mass was again being celebrated at a side altar and classes were beginning to return to the renovated classrooms.  On March 20, most of the scaffolding was removed and it was decided to remove the dome-like top of the main altar so that the beautiful painting of the Crucifixion could be more clearly seen.   By March 31, 1952, the church and school were again in fine shape.

A gala 75th Anniversary celebration was held on October 16, 1966.  Father Charles McMullen, Father McGinty and Father McCall celebrated Mass after which an open house was held in the church hall.  Later in that school year, the school library was opened in the church hall.  Students and faculty alike were delighted with the new room and many new materials.

The next major renovation of Saint Rose of Lima Church was initiated by Father McMullen and on October 26, 1980, Father McMullen read the prayers of rededication at a Mass at which Father Kaufman presided.  The joy of rededication was dampened by the sad news that would be shared with the parishioners on November 5.   Saint Rose of Lima School would be merging with Saint Madeline in Ridley Park the coming school year and the convent would be closed.  The final entry of August 17, 1981 for Saint Rose of Lima in the Immaculate Heart of Mary community annals states: "Father McMullen said Mass today.  All realized that this was the final note in the history of Saint Rose of Lima convent where the sisters had been since 1919.   Praise the Lord for all that has been!"

The beautiful grotto outside the church was erected in 1981.  It is a constant reminder of the joy that was such a part of Saint Rose School and that Our Lady will always watch over the parish.

Once again, in 1990, Saint Rose of Lima church underwent a renovation.  Father William Fahey, the present pastor, had the interior repainted a beautiful shade of blue and gold in anticipation of the historic Centenary Celebration of the founding of Saint Rose of Lima Parish.  May it be a joyful celebration for all!


St. Rose of Lima School Opened October 2, 1916 with 148 children.
Merged with Saint Madeline in Ridley Park during the 1981 school year.

Some of the faculty c. 1945-1958

Sr. Dolores Kathleen--1st Grade
Sr. Beata Maria--3rd and 4th Grade
Sr. Catherine Dolores (she later went to Lima, Peru)
Sr. Mary Francis--5th Grade
Sr. Marie Immacule--7th Grade
Mo. Mary Roberts
Mo. Rita Augustine

Thanks to former St. Rose of Lima student Owen Green, clgolg@erols.com for contributing this information 12/13/2000!  Owen also recalls:
"I remember the fire as I was a student at the school at the time.  Classes were held at Eddystone Fire House until the repairs were completed."

Some of the faculty c. 1956-1960:

Grade 3: Miss Mary Leonard (later became a nun)
Grade 4: Sister Maria Clare
Grade 5: Sister Marita Celine
Grade 6: Sister M. Joanna

Thanks to Frank Soscia, sosc111@home.com

c. 1960:

Mother superior was Mother Joan of Arc.  She also taught seventh grade.

Some of the nuns were :
Sister Mary St. Hugh,
Sister Marie Edwards ( she was a music teacher)
Second grade teacher was Sister St. Bernadette and second grade was held in the basement of the church.

Thanks to former St. Rose of Lima student Joann Manning Price, SEWSEWJO@aol.com for contributing this information 7/25/2000!

"I attended St Rose of Lima School from 1965-1971. I was an altar boy under Father McMullen and Father King from 1969-1971. The Sisters in Residence were

c 1970:

Mother Ann DeBeaupre- Principal and taught 8th grade
Sister Marie Sanctisimma-7th Grade
Miss Friel-6th Grade
Sister Rita Elizabeth-5th Grade
Miss DeLutis-3rd Grade
Miss Poilscheck-2nd Grade

There were many good memories of the school and the church is beautiful."

- Thanks to Ed Hearn

"I am a member of the last graduating class of St. Rose of Lima.

Sr. Elise was the principal
Sr. Anne - 7th grade
Miss Luongo- 6th grade
Mrs. Cunanne- 4th grade
Miss Delutis -3rd grade
Miss Greeby taught 2nd grade

I remember seeing Sr. Elise crying in the stairwell after the closing announcement was made and realizing that she was a person with feelings as well as a wonderful teacher. I still live in Eddystone and attend St. Rose of Lima every Sunday. I also teach CCD in the old school. Thanks for the memories."

- Thanks to Kellie Walters (Burns), July 2003


2000, 2002, 2003 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 02/24/07