CHESTER'S CENTURY OF CATHOLICISM
1842 -1942

By
REV. JOSEPH M. O'HARA, PH. D.

PASTOR OF OLD ST. MICHAEL'S, CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA

Courtesy of Louis J. Warfel, loujwarfel@juno.com

THE PETER REILLY COMPANY
PHILADELPHIA
COPYRIGHT 1942 JOSEPH M. O'HARA

Introduction & Dedication  |  Contents
Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III  |  Part IV
(24-58)  |  (59-112)  |  (113-161)  |  (162-214)


Part II

CHAPTER VI

THE FOUNDING OF ST. MICHAEL'S

In the Sacramental Registers of St. Joseph's Church, Philadelphia, for the year 1792 we find the first mention of baptism of Chester Catholics. These baptisms were conferred by Father '.C. V. Keating.

 

Stephen Powers, August - by Rev. C. V.

Keating, at Chester, Pa., born Feb. 26, 1792,

son of Pierce Powers (Catholic) and his

wife Anna (Protestant). The priest was

sponsor.

 

John Thorne, Dec. -, in Chester by Father

Keating; born Sept. 8, 1791, son of John

Thorne and his wife Eleanor, Protestants. The

sponsors were Robert Jordan and Mary

Hooper, Catholics.

 

William Thorne, same day, same place, same Priest, born Nov. 12, 1792, of the same parents, same sponsors.

 

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Robert Jordan, same day, at same place, same priest, born Nov. 29, 1792, son of Robert Jordan and his wife Mary, Catholics. The sponsors were Michael Kelly and Mary Hooper, Catholics.1

On the 10 September, 1842 the head of the Diocese of Philadelphia, the illustrious Bishop Kenrick, purchased land, on Middletown Road (now Edgmont Avenue) for a new church. The purchase price was $300.00. The sellers were Henry L. Powell of the Borough of Chester, his wife Eveline, and Albanus C. Logan, Esquire, of Stenton, Bristol Township, Philadelphia County. The Indenture closes with the statement that Bishop Kenrick bought this ground "ln trust nevertheless to and for the uses, intents and purposes following, that is to say, In trust to and for the use of the Roman Catholic Congregation of Chester, Delaware County, and vicinity, their successors and assigns forever." Thus the Catholic Church and the Diocese of Philadelphia

(footnote)

1 In the year 1792, in all 339 baptisms were conferred by the clergy of St. Joseph's. Most of these were, presumably, conferred in that church itself. However, some were, clearly, conferred elsewhere as, for instance, in Chester, as we have seen above. No church registers prior to 1758 now remain in Philadelphia.

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became, for the first time, possessed of real estate in Delaware County.

Chester had advanced very little in prosperity in all the years (160) that had elapsed since the advent of William Penn. We are told that the Proprietary of Pennsylvania found this a very beautiful locality. Strange to say, the waters of the Delaware and Chester Rivers were clear and sparkling and filled with fish. The territory was heavily wooded and abounded in game.

That Catholicism advanced slowly here may be seen in the fact that, as we have seen, at the time of the founding of the parish there were only one or two Catholic families living in Chester. The need and request for a new parish arose rather from Leiperville than from Chester.

Many God-fearing emigrants from Ireland were employed in the Leiperville (2) stone quarries. always, they loved America, the land of their adoption. But their hearts were saddened by the lack of facilities for the exercise of their religion. True, Holy Mass was celebrated, perhaps first of all in this locality, in the home of

 

(footnote)

(2) Leiperville is the new name for the old village of Ridley. about the year 1835 George G., William J., and Samuel M. Leiper purchased of the McIlvains their estate at Ridley and renamed the village Leiperville."-Martin, op. cit. p. 340.

 

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Thomas Maguire (3) in Chester. Martin speaks also of "the church on Dennis Kelly's property at Cobb's Creek." Mass was also celebrated with fair regularity in the private chapel of the Willcox mansion. None of these, however, Constituted a parish and accordingly a committee waited on Bishop Kenrick and besought his permission for a parish in Chester. This was granted.

It is pleasant to record here that the privilege of a private chapel so long enjoyed by the Willcox family was renewed by Bishop Kenrick almost ten years after the founding of St. Michael's parish: "Francis Patrick Kenrick, by the Grace of God and the Holy See, Bishop of Philadelphia.

"To all whom it may concern:

"We certify and make known that in consideration of the usage subsisting for a century and upwards and of the exceptional piety of the family, we have allowed and do hereby allow the celebration of Mass in the private oratory of

(footnote)

3 The home of Thomas Maguire was probably a Station. Not only were Masses celebrated there but baptism was conferred on more than one occasion. Early records speak often of Thomas Maguire.

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James M. Willcox, at Ivy Mills, Delaware, County even in case of the erection of a church in the vicinity.

ttGiven under our hand at Philadelphia this

IV day October, 1851.

(Signed) FRANCIS PATRICK,

Archbishop of Baltimore" (4)

It may be matter of surprise to many that the

Catholics of all this territory were up until this time (1842) members of St. Mary's Parish Fourth and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia. Says Martin I. J. Griffin: "ln Pennsylvania, the limits of St. Mary's parish may be marked off on an old time map as extending to the northward and westward to cover the territory from Goshenhoppen,(5) Reading and near to West Chester, as records show attendance at Concord Ivy Mills where the Willcox family were settled from 1728; to the southward at Chester at the house of Thomas Maguire, and to Coffee Run, Delaware, where Cornelius Hollahan, a great-great-grandfather of Chas. H. A. Esling, Esq., founded the faith; then down to Bohemia

(footnote)

(4) Cf.Records. American Catholic Historicil Society, Vol. 15, p.444--footnote

(5) Now Bally, in honor of Father Bally, S.J.

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Manor, Md., where the Jesuits had a school, the first Grammar in this section of America." (6)

We gladly quote here Joseph Willcox: "James M. Willcox was one of the active promoters in the building of St. Michael's church in Chester, the cornerstone of which was laid on September 29, 1842; and on June 29, 1843, the church was dedicated.

"For many years the Catholic workmen in the stone quarries near Leiperville were not afforded a convenient opportunity for attending regularly the services of their own church. At irregular intervals Mass was offered in a dwelling in the vicinity [Thomas Maguire's], and at other times some of the workmen and their families attended the services at the private chapel at lvy Mills, nine miles distant.

"The Catholics at Leiperville and vicinity were anxious to have a church convenient to them, and, although there were only one or two Catholic families living at Chester at that time, James M. Willcox advised the erection of the church there." (7)

We read in Catholicity in Delaware County:

(footnote)

6 The Story of St. Mary's.

7 Records of American Catholic Historical Society, Vol. XV, page 445

 

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" By 1842. however, the number of Catholics employed in and about Chester had become so great that they began to consider the possibility of having their own Church in order to avoid the journey of nine miles which was necessary to reach the Station at Ivy Mills. Accordingly they applied to Bishop Kenrick for permission to organize a parish in Chester. The Bishop gave his consent and assigned the Rev. Patrick F. Sheridan to the new parish."

 

Father Sheridan

Patrick F. Sheridan, a native of Ireland, was ordained by Bishop Kenrick, 4 Nov. 1841, in St. Mary's, Philadelphia. He celebrated his first Mass at St. Philip's in that city. The new Parish of St. Michael's was not able to support resident pastor for some eight years, until 1850. In the meanwhile Father Sheridan labored in various parts of Chester and Delaware counties. He spent a brief time at the Mission of St. Malachy's, Doe Run, Chester Co., Pa. In 1843 he founded the parish of St. Paul in Philadelphia.(8). Here he spent the remaining years of his life.

(footnote)

(8) The cornerstone of St. Paul's was 1aid by Bishop Kenrick, 7 May, 1843.

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* * * * "During the latter years of Father Sheridan's life he was totally blind and death came to his relief, 9 July 1879. He was buried in a vault east of the Church (9) [of St. Paul, Philadelphia] ."

Soon after the founding of the new parish, even before the pastor had fixed his residence here, Catholic parish activities began to be carried out. Confessions were heard, Masses were said, baptisms were performed, marriages were witnessed and blessed. In the earliest baptismal Register there is a lacuna of twenty pages. There is therefore a gap in the records, which possibly began much earlier than December, 1845.

(footnote)

9 Catholicity in Philadelphia, by J. L. J. Kirlin

page 449

 

 

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CHAPTER VII

 

CHURCH RECORDS

The first recorded baptism in the new church of St. Michael is of 21 December, 1845, when Rev. Dr. William O'Hara baptized Sarah Ann daughter of Thomas and Catherine Scanlon McGrath. The godparents (sponsors) were Bernard Scanlon and Susanna Scanlon. The entry is clearly and beautifully written and seems not to have faded at all. Only two baptisms are recorded in 1845, the above and that of Catherine Dougherty on the same day. It must not be supposed, however, that no children of Chester and its environs were baptized beeen the years 1842 and 1845. The children may have been taken to Philadelphia to St. Joseph's or to St. Mary's; they may have been baptized here and the record made elsewhere and since lost.t

1846, eleven baptisms are recorded: Edward

(footnote)

(1) Father Haviland, first-resident pastor, came here in 1850.He kept his Registers most meticulously.

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McKenny, John Boyle, James McCollum, Susanna McKinney, Anna McLaughlin, Alice Jordan, James McCollum, George Dougherty, Elizabeth Sullivan, Susanna Dougherty, Helen Gibbons. It is interesting to learn that of the thirteen baptisms so far mentioned, twelve were conferred by Dr. William O'Hara and one by Father M. Aloyse, who seems to have left no further trace here or elsewhere.

The first record we have of the conferring of the Sacrament of Confirmation was on 16 November, 1845, by Bishop Francis Patrick Ken-rick. The annotation (in Latin) tells us that Chester was then commonly known as Old Chester. There were confirmed ten males and fourteen females. It is of interest to give their names:

John Dougherty Mary McTaggert

Patrick McKinley Elizabeth Anna Quigley

James McCloskey Catherine Sarah Lenny

John Honey Bryan Honer

Michael Dougherty Dennis McCloskey

Patrick McKinley Anna Joanna McCloskey

Dennis McCloskey Mary Ann McKinney

Hugh Dougherty Mary Dougherty

Catherine McGinniss Catherine Honey

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Margaret Marie Quigley Margaret Anna Honer

Mary McKinley Mary McKinna (2)

He1en McLoughuin Anna Elizabeth McKinley

The second time Confirmation was conferred was 30 August, 1852, by the Venerable Servant of God, John Nepomucene Neumann,( 3) Bishop of Philadelphia.

Sixty females were confirmed and 53 males, total 113.

The first marriage of St. Michael's Parishioners was recorded (in Latin) as of Christmas Eve 1844. Translated it is as follows: "On the 24th day of December, 1844, in the Private Chapel of [the Seminary of] St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia, no impediment having been discovered, I questioned Thomas McGrath, son of Patrick McGrath and Soly Mulherron (or SallieMulherin) and Catherine Scantling, daughter of Charles Scantling and Mary Shail and having their mutual consent as of the present time, I united them in matrimony in the presence of the (below) noted witnesses.

(Signed) B. ROLLANDO, C.M.(4)

(footnote)

(2) No ages or names of parents are given.

 

(3) Vid. Sanctity in America, by Most Reverend Amleto Giovanni Cicognani (St. Anthony Guild Press, Paterson, N. J., 1939)

chapter II, pp. 29 ff.

(4) Rev. Bartholomew Rollando, C.M., Professor at our Grand Seminary, 1844 to 1846.

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"Witnesses

Thomas McGrath

Catherine Scantling

John Flanagan

James McMenamin"

It is interesting to find that Bishop Neumann on June 14, 1857 baptized ida Beaver (or Bechtel) child of Francis Beaver and Caroline Ott. The Sponsors were Sebastian Haus and Emma Ott. The entry is not made in the Bishop's hand nor did he sign it.

The first marriage recorded as taking place in St. Michael's, Chester (in the church itself) was that of James Kelly and Hannah Toland. The witnesses were Daniel Dougherty, Edward Dougherty, Mary Farrell and Anna Toland. The officiating clergyman was Dr. William O'Hara. The date was 5 July, 1846.

The Registers in Old Saint Michael's are, thanks to the intelligence and zeal of the priests who have labored here (or now labor), splendidly kept and carefully safeguarded. There are in all fourteen volumes, kept in a fireproof safe. The earliest Registers were not expressly manufactured for ecclesiastical use but were business books

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of a Journal or Day-book nature. A vast improvement has been made in this regard. Since 1915 the record of baptisms and of marriages has been kept here in specially constructed books that permit ease of entry and ease of finding. These books, like their predecessors, are in Latin, the language of the Church, the universal language. There are Registers of baptisms, of confirmation, of first holy Communion, of marriages, and of deaths. All of these records are of extremely great value-especially the records of baptisms. Many who are too old to have had their birth recorded civilly find civil proof of their birth in our registers.(5) For the reception of first holy Communion, and of Confirmation a certificate of baptism is usually required. Concerning marriage it is well to bear in mind what is set forth in a recent (29 June, 1941) instructio of the Sacred congregation of the Sacraments. "Wherefore, besides what are specially set forth in 2 can. 1020, inquiry must be specially made: (a) concerning the recetion of baptism and confirmation, with the obtaining of legal certificates.

(footnote)

(5)About the year 1900 the Bureais of Vital Statistics came into being. It did not function fully for some years.

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The Baptismal certificate should be recent, issued not more than six months before the marriage. (6) We gladly issue the requisite certificates, for which we receive many calls. By mail we average thirty requests per week. Of these some two or three enclose return postage.

The corner stone placing of St. Michael's (first) church antedated these records. We give them in this place because of their extreme importance and because of the fact that in all probability they are not our first parish baptisms and marriages. Our first Baptismal Register begins with page 23. It would seem that Dr. O'Hara was leaving space for baptisms performed before his time. Perhaps a record of such baptisms was existent then. We can find no trace of it now.

(footnote)

6 Translation by the author.

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CHAPTER VIII

THE CORNER STONE LAYING

What is probably the first mention of old St. Michael's in print is an advance notice in The Catholic Herald(1) of September 29, 1842, of the corner stone laying. We quote it in full as belonging to our ncunabula and because there is internal evidence that it was written by Bishop Kenrick himself.

"New Church in Chester.-The corner stone of a Catholic Church will be this day laid, with appropriate ceremonies, in Chester, one of the oldest villages of the State, by Bishop Kenrick. We are much gratified at the evidence of good will-of kind feeling with which we hear the undertaking is viewed by those who reside in the neighborhood of Chester, and in the village itself. It is almost an earnest of success, while we are sure on more than one account, the sacred edifice, when finished, will not prove a drawback to the prosperity of Old Chester.

footnote

1, Bishop Kenrick's official diocesan organ. Vid. .supra Chap IV.

 

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" We cannot let slip the occasion to appeal to the generosity and piety of our readers and the Catholic public, for their mite in behalf of their brethren, who are about, even in these dull times, to raise another altar to the true and living God-another temple in which to invoke His blessings on the land in which we dwell. There are those within ten minutes walk of the spot where we write these lines, who could build this Church for the sum it will cost-and would not miss the amount from their pockets. Oh, that some angel of benevolence would powerfully touch their hearts and loose their purse-strings for such a noble deed-so glorious in the sight of heaven-so beneficial to their fellow-men- so advantageous to their own souls! For 'he that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord; and He will repay him.' The Catholics in the neighborhood of Chester, are really poor-depending on their daily labor; and yet ready, nay eager to give even that labor, gratis, to secure for themselves and their children a spot whereon to worship God according to the faith of our Fathers.

When we reflect that a mere trifle from the Catholics of the city [Philadelphia], would at once secure for them this blessing, we cannot believe page 74

 

* * * * *

that their their appeal will be disregarded----or their hopes disappointed. It is almost unnecessary to say, that our brethren of Chester and its vicinity, belong to that class of the great Catholic family (2) who always have been, and always are, most liberal in contributing to the support and diffusion of our holy Faith-according to their means-and often, far beyond them. The times are dull, we know-and money scarce. But we can imagine no better way to improve both, than to throw our mite into the treasury of 'Him, from whom every good and perfect gift descendeth.' They who are blessed with the corde magno et animo volente-'with the great heart and willing mind'-and we trust that there are many such around us, will not plead either hard times or no cash in reply to those who ask for a trifle to raise the Cross in Old Chester."

The corner stone placing is a rather brief cerernony. In all probability only a few people were in attendance and there is no mention of a sermon unless the officiating Prelate himself spoke. Indeed not much of the building could have been

( footnote)

2 The Bishop is referring to the great Irish nation, always noted for its generosity, particularly to God's house.

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completed from Sept. 10 to September 29. It is probable that haste was made in order to have the ceremony on the Feast of St. Michael, Archangel.

As has happened in the case of so many Catholic buildings, a great deal of the labor was donated by the men of the parish. They dug the cellar and dressed the stone during their free time. As the stone came from the Leiper's quarries on Crum Creek, where many of the new parishioners were employed, it is not unlikely that it was given free by the owners or at a greatly reduced price. At any rate it was a time of depression and money was scarce.

Despite all obstacles the work progressed so rapidly that in less than a year the building was ready for the solemn opening and blessing. Martin (3) thus describes the first parish church of St. Michael. "This structure is of stone from Leiper's quarries on Crum Creek, of the Gothic style of architecture, 42 by 72 feet, with a square tower, and spire 100 feet high, surmounted by a gilt cross. In the tower is hung a fine toned bell, 1,000 pounds in

( footnote)

3 Chester (And Its Vicinity), John Hill Martin, Philadelphia, 1877, p. 412.

 

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weight, which is rung twice a day. A sacristy, 12 by 22 feet, has been erected adjoining the church on the south side."

It is interesting to quote a historical reference to our church that is contemporary with its founding. In Historical Collections of the State of Pennsylvania (published in Philadelphia in 1843) we read: " Chester is the most ancient town and county seat in Pennsylvania. It is situated at the mouth of Chester Cr., 13 miles S. W. ,from Philadelphia. It has an antiquated, venerable appearance, and still retains the quiet and orderly character which has distinguished it for more than 100 years. It contains a substanal courthouse of stone, rected in 1724, a jail of nearly equal antiquity, an ancient Swedish Curch (St. Paul's), a Quaker meeting-house, a new Catholic church, the Delaware County Bank, an Atheneum, and about 160 dwellings." (4)

In little over seven months the new edifice was ready for blessing and occupancy. The details of that joyous event form another chapter.

( footnote )

 

(4) Op. cit., p. 298, by Sherman Day.

 

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CHAPTER IX

THE SOLEMN BLESSING

The liturgical blessing of the new church edifice took place on Sunday, May 25, 1843. It was a day of unparalleled splendor and rejoicing. What was doubtless the largest crowd ever assembled up to that date for any event in Delaware county (some 15,000 persons) from all the surrounding towns and villages and from the city of Philadelphia met under clodless skies to take part in the ancient, solemn ceremony. It was a setting of great natural beauty, the white stone church in its bower of green trees. Only 160 years had elapsed since Penn first beheld this portion of his grant and found it good and beautiful. Beyond doubt most if not all of this God-given beauty yet remained. From personal observation Ashmead tells us: "For many years Saint Michael's Church was the most noticeable building in Chester and so conspicuous was it that the gilded cross, surmounting the lofty

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spire, could be seen glittering many miles away as the town was approached in any direction."1

The blessing was performed by the pastor, Father Patrick Francis Sheridan. There were Mass in the morning and Vespers in the afternoon. Very Reverend Edward F. Sourin, A.M., Vicar General, preached in the morning. At Vespers, Very Reverend Patrick Eugene arty, D.D., O.S.A., Commissary General (Superior) of the Augustinians in the United States made the oration in his usual powerful and eloquent style.

We are very happy to quote in exfenso beause of their historical value and their quaintiess the accounts given of this happy event in official organ of the diocese.

" The Catholic Herald

Philadelphia, Thursday, June 29, l843-p. 205

(Communicated)"

"St. Michael's Church, Chester. On Sunday as previously announced, this new church was opened, and to that Divine Being ' from whom every good and perfect gift descendeth,"

(footnote)

(1) Henry Ashmead, History of Delaware County, p. 342.

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we owe our humble thanks for the blessings which have marked the day. About 8 o'clock, A.M., the Bolivar left the wharf, but was so crowded with passengers that several were deterred from attempting the journey, while others followed in the Clifton, which started some moments after.

" As the Bolivar neared Fort Muffin, the children of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, attached to St. Mary's Church, of whom forty were on board, sang the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the hymn,

' Soldiers of Christ! arise'

and other sacred pieces, apparently much to the edification of their fellow-passengers, who stood crowded around them. By 10 o'clock, A.M., the two boats were in sight of Chester, and already the white spire of St. Michael's was seen peering above the intervening trees. As seen from the river, with its slender tower and spire, 100 feet high-minarets and Gothic windows, it has quite a graceful and interesting appearance. It is 70 feet long by 40

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broad, and reflects great credit upon the skill and taste of the architect, N. LeBrun, (2) Esq.

"We found the church surrounded by a crowd, which the visitors from the city [Philadelphia] must have increased to at least 13,000 or 15,000 persons. The Rev. Mr.(3) Sheridan immediately commenced the blessing of the Curch, after which he celebrated Mass. During the Holy Sacrifice the Sodality chanted several of their sweetest hymns, and indeed greatly contributed throughout the day to raise the thought of all present to that temple above where we hope both they and all who hear them may one day meet to sing the mercies of our God forever.

"The Sermon was preached at the close of the Divine Sacrifice, by Rev. Mr. Sourin, taking for his text St. Matt. viii, 23-28, as typical of the future destinies of the Christian Church. After some remarks upon the alternate humiliatuin and glory discoverable in the history of the Church and exemplified in the life of her Divine Founder, he proceeded to consider present prospects, and from the testimony of distinguished Protestants,

(footnote)

2 Napolean Le Brun was also architect of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

3 Then and for many years after, priests were spoken of and addressed as Mr. The present writer remembers the late Cardinal Gibbons thus speaking of his clergy of Baltimore.

 

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now living or only recently dead, he showed that the Catholic Church, even considered as a human institution, was for its venerable antiquity, its grandeur, durability, and widespread influence, far above every other institution beneath the heavens. From the unsought testimony of other eminent Protestants, he proved that she was the guardian of the people's rights-the protector of the poor and defenseless-the patroness of art and science- the foundress of modern civilization-'that she had given away more and done more for charity's sake, in each successive year of her existence than some wealthy Protestant Establishments in each successive century of theirs.' He closed his discourse by urging on all present the duty of praying for the speedy arrival of that day when the Christian world should be again one fold under one Shepherd-with one Faith to direct our steps amid the shadows of our present state-with one Hope to sustain our hearts amid life's inevitable trials-with one Charity of God to cheer and urge us onward, 'till we are admitted into that temple not

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built with human hands-whose courts are wide enough to hold us all-in bliss and union with our God forever.'

"At 3 o'clock, P.M., the church was again crowded from the Sanctuary rail to the front steps, while many stood around the building to hear the discourse of the Very Rev. Dr. Moriarty. In consequence of the Church not being large enough to hold half of those who wished to attend, several requested him to preach under a tree, which, however, he declined doing. His subject was the authority of the church, which he ably treated-proving that in bowing to her authority, Catholics bow to the authority of Jesus Christ, who has said-'He that will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.' So far from being unreasonable in this submission, he maintained that there was no government, no state, which did not daily stand upon the principle that obedience is due to lawfully constituted authority. As civil governments have their laws and regulations-the power of punishing refractory members-of cutting off from the enjoyment of their privileges, those who prove themselves unworthy of them-so he maintained the church

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was a kingdom, a government with its established rules and laws to which those who wish to be considered her members, must submit. After some observations upon the uselessness of mutual recrimination, of charging to the Catholic Church what was to be attributed rather to the manners, civil customs, etc., of past ages; he concluded by saying that on Tuesday, 27th inst., he would address them more at length upon the same subject. The services for the day closed by the chanting of several hymns, prayers, and the Te Deum, in thanksgiving to God for the blessings of the day. It was truly gratifying to observe with what decorum all assisted at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so novel to many of them. For the uniform kindness extended to us during the day, we return our sincere thanks. At 71/2 o'clock, P.M., the Bolivar reached Philadelphia, loaded with about 800 passengers, all of whom appeared highly gratified with the day they had passed. [Signed] V."(4)

(footnote)

4 A slightly sour note: "The Sunday School Journal inserts the advertisement published some time since in our paper, of the chartering of a steamboat to convey persons from the city to the dedication of the church in Chester. For ourselves, we can say that we had nothing to do with the chartering of the steamboat, but we can see no harm in folks going to church on the Lord's day."-Catholic Herald, 14 Sept., 1843, p. 292.

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Our next chapter will deal with the two notable ecclesiastics who preached on the happy occasion of our parish church dedication.

 

 

 

 

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CHAPTER X

 

OUR FIRST PREACHERS

For historical completeness we must devote special space to these two distinguished churchmen, very Reverend Father Sourin and Very Reverend Dr. Moriarty, O.S.A.

Father Sourin

When Father Sourin preached at our solemn blessing he was assistant rector at St. John's, Philadelphia, and Vicar General of the Diocese. Edward J. Sourin was born in Philadelphia of Irish Catholic parents in the year 1808. He entered Mt. St. Mary's College, Emmittsburg, where he had for professor Rev. John Hughes (1) and for classmate the future Cardinal McCloskey. He was ordained by Bishop Kenrick, 5 August 1832 at St. Mary's (Pro-cathedral) in Philadelphia, together with the Rev. Francis X. Gartland. Father Sourin was one of the Clerical members of the first ( footnote )

3 Father Hughes founded St. John's in Philadelphia and later became the (first) Archbishop of New York.

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Board of Trustees of our diocesan Seminary. He taught in the Seminary from 1838 to 1841. His first appointment as Assistant Rector was at St. Mary's and later at St. John's. At the latter church Father Gartland had become pastor when his predecessor, Father Hughes, went to New York as Coadjutor Bishop to Rt. Rev. John Dubois, S.S., D.D. In 1850 Father Gartland was elevated to the episcopate as (first) Bishop of Savannah,(2) Georgia, whereupon Father Sourin was made rector of St. John's. He became Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese, 19 August, 1851, when Archbishop Kenrick was transferred to Baltimore, up to 28 March, 1852, when the Venerable John Nepomucene Neumann was consecrated Bishop of Philadelphia.

In 1855 with the Bishop's necessary permission Father Sourin entered the Society of Jesus. Monsignor Kirlin (3) says: "On 10 September, 1855, Bishop Neumann placed St. John's Church in charge of the Jesuits, which Society Father Sourin had entered on 7 May of that year.

( footnote )

(2) Now Savannah-Atlanta. Father Gartland was consecrated, 10 Nov., 1850, and died of yellow fever contracted when ministering to the stricken, 20 Sept., 1854. Most Reverend Gerald P. O'Hara, D.D., J.U.D., a son of this Diocese, has been Bishop of Savannah-Atlanta since 16 November, 1935.

 

(3) Op cit. p. 436. The Woodstock Letters (Vol. XVII, pp. 351-355 tell us that he entered the Society of Jesus in November 1855.

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The Rev. James Ryder, S.J., was appointed pastor. ... On 16 August of that year [1860] the Jesuits relinquished charge of St. John's and the parish was again placed in care of Diocesan priests." Father Sourin, S.J., was appointed pastor of St. John's Church, Frederick, Md. Afterward he served at Loyola College, Baltimore. His thirty years as a Jesuit were spent in these two places. He died an edifying death at Loyola College, 21 May, 1888.

 

Rev. Dr. Moriarty

The dedication of our church was graced by the person and discourse of a very remarkable man, Dr. Patrick Eugene Moriarty, O.S.A. Of him Monsignor Kirlin said (in 1909) he was the most famous of the Augustinian Fathers who have ministered in the United States."(4) ~ The Catholic Record ~ (Philadelphia) said (in part) " probably no priest or bishop has ever stood more prominently before the public than Dr. Moriarty. None had more bitter opponents during the time when the fires of the Know Nothing persecution were raging, ( footnote )

OP. cit. p. 366.

5 Vol. IX, p. 190, year 1875.

 

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yet even then, notwithstanding their bitter hatred, his enemies were constrained to admit his manly Christian courage, his magnificent candor, and regard for truth."

Patrick Moriarty was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 4 July, 1804 (or 1805). He was descended from the O'Moriartys of Kerry. His classical education began at Carlow College when he was but sixteen years of age. On 14 May 1822 he was professed in the Order of St. Augustine in their monastery at Callan. His superiors, recognizing his high qualities of mind and heart and his ardent piety, sent him to Italy to complete his course. We find him studying with zeal and intelligence at Perugia, Lucca and finally at Rome, where he was ordained to the priesthood, 25 January, 1828. He spent a brief time at the .Augustinian convent ( 6 ) in his native Dublin. Until 1834 he was military chaplain at Lisbon in Portugal and then returned to Dublin. In that same year he volunteered to accompany Bishop O'Connor to the difficult mission of Goa in India. The Bishop made the learned and devout Augustinian Vicar-General of his Diocese.

( footnote )

(6) Convent meant originally a body of religious men; then, their place of dwelling: nowadays it seems to be restricted largely, and mistakenly, to a house of Sisters.

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At the same time Father Moriarty acted as Chaplain to the General Hospital and to the Garrison at Fort St. George. He was also rector of the church at St. Thomas' Mount and edited the monthly magazine called The Roman Catholic Expositor.

In 1838 Father Moriarty brought to Rome the Relatio ( 7 ) of his bishop. While there Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) motu proprio made the young priest a Doctor of Divinity. At the same time Dr. Moriarty begged to be allowed to refuse a proffered bishopric in India. His heart was set on doing missionary work in the vast field of the United States. In this holy purpose he was seconded by the Augustinian Father General and by the Irish Provincial of the Augustinians. Accordingly he arrived in Philadelphia in July, 1839, as Commissary General (Superior) of all the Augustinians, in the United States and as Prior-Pastor of St. Augustine's, already an old established church. (8)

( footnote )

7 The Quinquennial Report as to the state of religion in the Diocese.

8 St. Augustine's, 4th St. below Vine St. in Philadelphia, was founded by the Rev. Matthew Carr, O.S.A., uncle of Father Sourin, in 1796, just a year after he had come here from Dublin. It was destroyed by Nc4ivist thugs in 1844.

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In 1840 Dr. Moriarty was present at the Fourth Provincial Council of Baltimore. Says Dr. Guilday: "Father Moriarty, Superior of the Augustinians, came to the public congregation that afternoon (9) and endeavored to arouse the interest of the prelates in the burning question of the National Education Act then under discussion by the hierarchy of Ireland. No action was taken on this plea." (10)

Almost from the beginning of his career Dr. Moriarty was noted as a compelling and forceful orator, with an eloquence inspired by deep learning and love of souls. We do not think it is known at how many or what places he made this great gift available for his brother priests in and outside his own Order. St. Michael's, Chester, was one of the numerous places thus favored, doubtless at the request of Bishop Kenrick himself. The Catholic Herald gives a resume of the learned Doctor's sermon-a resume that is no better and no worse than such things usually are. (See above, Chapter IX.)

We cannot here follow the whole career of Dr. Moriarty, O.S.A. His Life and Times awaits a more skilful hand. We may instance, however, his courage and far seeing wisdom in purchasing the Bel Air Estate,

( footnote )

(9) 20 May, 1840.

(10) History of the Councils of Baltimore, p. 123.

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the present commanding site of Villanova College. In 1853, with Bishop Neumann's consent, he purchased for parish purposes a plot of ground in Chestnut Hill, a vastly different place then than now. On this were built Our Mother of Consolation church buildings. Here Dr. Moriarty remained till 1874. His last public oration was on St. Patrick's night 1875, in the Academy of Music,11 Philadelphia. He died a holy death on 10 July of the same year. His body was laid to rest in a vault at St. Augustine's, Philadelphia.

( footnote )

(11) Years before, he had made an address at the Academy of Music, the first priest to do so.

 

 

 

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CHAPTER XI

 

OUR EARLIEST CLERICAL

BENEFACTORS

The earliest names of priests mentioned as being associated with this parish are, of course, Father Sheridan, first pastor, Fathers Sourin and Moriarty, O.S.A., first preachers; William O'Hara, D.D., M. Aloyse, J.M. Delcros, G.M., James Cullen, A. Rossi, G.M., Thaddeus Amat, C.M. (afterwards Bishop of Monterey and Los Angeles, California), and Hugh Lane. All these are on record as having labored here.

Of Fathers Sheridan and Sourin and Dr. Moriarty, O.S.A. we have already spoken. Of Rev. M. Aloyse we can say very little. He baptized here, 19 April 1846. The child's name was Edward McKenney. Dr. O'Hara made the enry and signed it with the name of M. Aloyse.

Rev. Dr. William O'Hara

 

William O'Hara was born in Dungiven, County Derry, Ireland, 14 April, 1816, one year

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after the death of Bishop Carroll. When he was four years of age his family came to the United States, settling at Philadelphia. William received his earliest education in that city; later he attended Georgetown College and was a distinguished student. His final studies (for eleven years) were made at Urban College in Rome where he was ordained 21 December, 1842, three months after the founding of Old St. Michael's.

The earliest missionary work of this distinguished ecclesiastic was done here. Often the good Doctor made fatiguing journeys from Philadelphia to minister to the needs of the infant parish.1 At that time there was at least one good road for horses and vehicles from Philadelphia to Chester. Like most roads in those days, it was good in good weather. There was also steamboat service from Chestnut Street wharf to Chester. "January 1, 1838, the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad was opened for travel and freight from Wilmington to Philadelphia." 2

In The Catholic Herald of Thursday, 7 September, 1843 (p. 288), we find the

(footnote)

1 See above Chapter VII, Parish Records.

2 Graham Ashmead, Chester, p. 12.

 

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following notice: "Chester-The Church of St. Michael in Chester will be visited on Sunday next by Rev. Willam O'Hara, D.D., who will continue to visit it henceforward on the second Sunday of each month."

In 1843 Dr. O'Hara was appointed assistant rector at St. Patrick's, Philadelphia. Here he conceived a love for his parishioners that never ceased in all the changes that marked his distinguished career. In 1853 he was made Rector of St. Charles Seminary, then at 18th and Race Streets, Philadelphia. At the same time he occupied there the chair of Moral Theology, while continuing as pastor of St. Patrick's. In 1860, he was appointed Vicar-General of the Diocese. In 1868, Dr. O'Hara was consecrated the first Bishop of Scranton, a See he was destined to govern for over thirty years.

"The choice of a successor to Archbishop Wood (3) demanded thought on the part of the Roman authorities and they took a year to come to a decision. At first they seemed to consider favorably the venerable Bishop O'Hara of Scranton, who, as rector of the seminary and VicarGeneral of the diocese, had done valuable service in Philadelphia.

(footnote)

(3) Died 20 June, 1883.

 

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There is little doubt that he would have been selected, had it not been for his seventy odd years.(4)

Like Father James Timmins, Bishop O'Hara lived to a ripe old age. In 1892 he celebrated simultaneously the golden jubilee of his priesthood and the silver jubilee of his espiscopate. On 3 February, 1899, after a brief illness he passed from this life to a better in the eighty-third year of his age and the fifty-eighth of his priesthood.

 

Rev. John A. Deleros, C.M.

 

John Delcros was born at St. Flour in France, 1 May, 1822. At the age of 20 he entered the Congregation of the Mission(5) in Paris. He was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in 1845. His first baptism at St. Michael's was performed 28 March, 1846; his last, 18 July, 1847. He was killed on the Mississippi River, 14 June 1858, in a steamboat explosion at the age of 36.

(footnotes)

4 Monsignor James F. Loughlin, Garth. Enc. s.v. Philadelphia.

5 The Vincentian Fathers (Congregation of the Mission of St. Vincent de Paul) were in charge of our diocesan seminary for twelve years, beginning 1841.

"In 1841, the Seminary was placed under the immediate direction of the Lazarists, or Priests of the Congregation of the Mission, and Very Rev. Mariano Mailer, G.M., was appointed Rector."-Schulte, The Philadelphia Theological Seminary of St. Charles Borromeo, p. 40. It is to be noted that the Seminary was at Eighteenth and Race Streets, Philadelphia, or, as then called, at the northeast corner of Schuylkill Fifth and Sassafras

 

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Strangely enough the name of the boat was The Pennsylvania. The Archives of the Congregation add, periit Missionarius optim'us," there perished a zealous and holy Missionary."

 

Rev. James Cullen might almost rate as an assistant here. He was minister of all baptisms from 19 September, 1847 till 2 July, 1848. He was ordained a priest of the diocese, 19 July, 1847 by Bishop Kenrick.

 

Rev. Andrew Rossi, C.M.

Father Rossi was born on 6 May, 1817 at Finale in Genoa, Italy. He entered the Congregation of the Mission on 27 May, 1845 at Genoa. His vows, however, were made at St. Mary of the Barrens, in the city of St. Louis, Mo. where the Theological Seminary of the Lazarists was then located. He died at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, South America, in one of the Houses of his Congregation whither he had gone with the permission of his superiors in search of health. This was in 1855. Father Rossi baptized here frequently (25 times) beginning 16 July, 1848 and ending 22 April, 1849; again twice, 20 Oct. 1850.

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Rev. Thaddeus Amat, C.M.

The first baptism performed here by Father Amat is dated 6 August 1848. The child was Susana, daughter of Daniel and Mary McKinney Daugherty. The sponsors were James Daugherty and Anna Daugherty. The child was born 4 August, 1848. Again Father Amat baptized here on 14 and 15 June, 1851.

ttBishop Amat was born December 31, 1810, at Barcelona, Spain. At the age of twenty he entered the Congregation of the Mission, and in 1838 was sent by his superiors to the United States. In 1841 he was appointed Master of Novices at Cape Girardeau, Mo. In 1842 the Theological Seminary of the Lazarists was, at the request of the Archbishop of St. Louis, transferred to that city, and Father Amat was appointed Superior. In 1848 he was chosen Rector of the Seminary at Eighteenth and Race Streets, Philadelphia, which he governed for four years. It was during his incumbency that the Seminary building was improved and enlarged to twice its former length on Race Street. At the First Plenary Council of Baltimore (1852) Father Amat was proposed to fill the vacancy in the See of Monterey, caused by the

 

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translation of Bishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany, O.P., D.D., to San Francisco. He was preconized in 1853, and consecrated 12 March, 1854, by Cardinal Fransoni in Rome, whither he had gone to urge his release from the mitre. He died at Los Angeles, 12 May 1878, greatly respected and beloved on account of his learning, zeal, ability, and many priestly virtues." 6

Rev. Hugh Lane

 

Father Hugh Lane ministered here from 20 May, 1849 to 14 Oct. 1849. He performed sixteen baptisms and assisted at six marriages. Father Lane was ordained 2 June, 1844 and labored in various Missions in south New Jersey and Delaware County, Pennsylvania. In 1853 Newark was made a diocese with Most Rev. James Roosevelt Bayley, D.D. as its head and Father Lane was recalled to Philadelphia. Up to that time the southern part of the State of New Jersey belonged to the diocese of Philadelphia. When Father Lane returned to Philadelphia, Bishop Neumann gave him the task of organizing a new parish in the then sparsely settled region south of St. John's and west of St. Paul's.

(footnote)

(6)Schulte, op. cit., pp. 50, 51.

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This new parish was called St. Teresa's and was located at Broad and Catherine Streets. Here after many labors Father Lane died 5 April, 1902.

 

A Century-Old Vote of Thanks

ttThe Catholics of St. Michael's congregation, Chester, Delaware county, return their sincere thanks to their Catholic brethren of Philadelphia, for their generous aid in the erection of the Church in which they are now enabled to worship our Common Father and God. For their presence and encouraging support at the opening of the Church, they also tender their grateful acknowledgments.

"Their thanks are likewise due to Miss Jane Stoker, of Philadelphia, for a box containing four bunches of very beautiful artificial flowers; to Mrs. Elizabeth Mary Parker, for a pair of vases and flowers; to Madame Doct. Bournonville, and Mrs. Martha Brown, for flowers for the decoration of the altar."-The Catholic Herald, 13 July, 1843, p. 220.

 

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CHAPTER XII

 

OUR FIRST RESIDENT PASTOR

 

Father Haviland seems very near as he is very dear to us. First of all his death did not occur so very long ago (1886) as to preclude all memory of it or of his burial here. Moreover there are still living those who remember some at least of the years of his long ministry, terminated by ill health in the year 1877, and there is about his career the aura of the pioneer. He came here when the parish had been for more than seven years without a resident pastor and did not include many parishioners---possibly about 250, (1) He has left after him the memory of a kindly, zealous and holy priest.

Peter Haviland was born in Ireland in the County Down in 1825. He, along with three others, was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Edward (2) Barron in Bishop Kenrick's Chapel at St. John's ( then the Pro-Cathedral), Philadelphia, on 29th June, 1850.

 

( footnote)

1 MGrtin's History of Chester, p. 412.

2 Very Reverend Edward Barron was born in Ireland (1802) and was ordained in Rome in 1826. He came to Philadelphia as a missionary, 21 Oct. 1837 and before the year was out was appointed by Bishop Kenrick Vicar General of the Diocese, Rector of St. Mary's and President of the Seminary.

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On 12 July of that same year he was appointed pastor of St. Michael's by Bishop Kenrick. He was young in the priesthood and young in years and so it must have seemed to him a very desirable appointment. The parish possessed a church and some surrounding ground and the Borough of Chester was increasing in numbers. And so Father Haviland took possession of his new charge, inaugurating a pastorate of 27 years. It is probable that the young rector lived first in the home

( footnote continued from page 101 )

He remained head of the Seminary for eighteen months. He was consecrated Bishop, in Rome, 1 Nov. 1842 and appointed Vicar-Apostolic of the Two Guineas in Africa. "He went to France in search of co-workers and to ask help from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, then founded only 20 years. The Society gave him generous (financial) help. But he found no coworkers. Bishop Barron was now head of a foreign mission field without missioners. So he went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Victories in Paris to pray for (the obtaining of) missioners. There he met with Father Lieberman, Superior of a newly founded Mission Society who was head of a band of missioners without a mission field. He had gone, too, to the Shrine of Our Lady of Victories to pray for a mission field. An agreement was quickly reached between them. Thus it was that the Holy Ghost Fathers with whom Father Lieberman's Society had merged were led to make up the missions of the then Dark Continent under the leadership of a Bishop from America. Today more than 700 Holy Ghost Fathers are laboring in the mission fields of Africa, 29 of whom are Americans." (Catholic Mission.,, June-July, 1942, p. 20.) Later, with the consent of the Holy See, Bishop Barron returned to the United States to do missionary work in various places. He died, like his friend Bishop Gartland, a martyr's death, in Savannah, 12 Sept. 1854.

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some of his parishioners or in a rented house. It was not until 1854 that he built a Rectory or Priests' House (he had then an assistant). This was a three story building of brick, 34 feet square, on Edgmont Avenue, in front of the site of the present Rectory.

On 20 September, 1858, the Right Reverend James Frederick Wood, (3) Coadjutor Bishop of Philadelphia, came to Chester for the blessing of the new Church bell. A large throng was in attendance as the bell was solemnly blessed and raised to the belfry. For many years this bell, noted for its tonal qualities, called people to divine worship and to a remembrance of the holy presence of God. It was in a sense a landmark. The first assistant pastor was Father Patrick McEnroe, appointed 7 May, 1854.

In 1864 a new cemetery plot was purchased. The old deeds furnished to lot holders speak of it as St. Michael's Cemetery on Edgmont Avenue, near Chester. Martin (4) says of it that it was seven acres in extent, . . . a short mile out of Chester."

( footnote )

(3) Bishop Wood, a convert to the faith from Unitarianism at the age of 25, died three years before Father Haviland. He was born in Philadelphia, 27 April, 1813. He was consecrated Coadjutor Bishop of Philadelphia, 26 April, 1857; became Bishop of See, 5 Jan. 1860; created (first) Archbishop of Philadelphia, 12 Feb. 1875. He died 20 June, 1883.

(4) Op. cit., p. 413.

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It is, of course, the present cemetery lying on Edgmont Avenue between 18th and 20th Streets. (On 3 October, 1887 North Chester Borough, by ordinance, was incorporated with Chester City.)

Before that the bodies of the faithful had been laid to rest in the Churchyard, corresponding, roughly, to the present children's school playground of St. Michael's School. The late Rt. Rev. Monsignor Thomas S. McCarty, Rector of St. Edward's Parish,Phila-delphia, told the present writer that he vividly remembered the transfer of the bodies from the oldChurch-yard to the new cemetery in 1865. The transfer was made by means of horse-drawn drays. The two granite monoliths forming the entrance to the present cemetery had stood for more than twenty years at the front of the old cemetery.

As the parish progressed in numbers, it seemed expedient to the pastor to take steps towards a school. Accordingly in 1866 an additional lot was purchased for this purpose. It was not, however, till five years later (1871) that the parish school-house was built, the first in Delaware County. It was a two story structure, 60 by 24 feet. The school was conducted by laymen

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For the boys (Mr. McCarey and Mr. Philip Lennon) and a lay woman (Miss Gilfeather) for the girls. The average daily attendance was 108 pupils. The building was also used as a Sunday School with about 300 pupils in attendance.

Before the opening of the school in 1867, Father Haviland obtained the Bishop's permission to visit Europe for some months in search of health. The parish was temporarily placed in charge of the assistant, Rev. Edward McKee, who had succeeded Father McEnroe, as curate.(5)

From 1850 the population of Chester and vicinity had been increasing. Martin (6) gives the following figures.

"Chester's population in 1820, was 657; in 1830, 848. In 1840, Chester Borough and township had a population of 1790. In 1850, the Borough had 1667. The census of Chester for 1859, taken expressly for the Directory, was, white males, 1865; white females, 1927; colored males, 142; females, 173-total, 4107. In 1860, the records of

 

( footnotes)

5 Father McEnroe had been transferred to Matich Chunk, Pa. Upon the return of Father Haviland from Europe, Father McKee was made pastor of St. Lawrence's, Catasauqua.

6 History of Chester, p. 303.

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the Prothonotary's office of the County Courts fixes the population at 4631, while the U. S. census report gives it as: males 2,055; females, 2,159, a total of 4,214. In 1870, the census gives 9,500 souls. Delaware County contains 113,289 acres and has a population of 39,451."

By 1874 there were about 2000 Catholics in St. Michael's parish. Despite the fact that four Masses were celebrated every Sunday, the sacred edifice was not sufficiently large to accommodate its members. Father Haviland determined, therefore, to erect a new church building more in accordance with the demands of his steadily growing congregation(7) Perhaps he considered the old building not altogether safe. Just four years after its completion a violent storm had damaged the lofty

(footnote)

(7) This is the more remarkable evidence of growth when we consider that the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary had already been cut off from St. Michael's. This parish in South Chester was formed in 1873. In July of that year the Rev. John B. Kelly was appointed pastor there. As he died a few days later, the founding pastor was really the Rev. Thomas J. McGlynn. Father McGlynn had been curate at St. Michael's for three and a half years. He at once built a chapel of wood at Second and Broomall Streets to serve as a temporary place of worship while the present red brick Gothic church was in construction. This chapel was destroyed by fire on 23 February 1876. From that date till 1 October, 1876 the parishioners returned for divine worship to St. Michael's. Death ended Father McGlynn's long pastorate in 1902.

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tower. This was on Sunday, 9 August 1846. The wind tore a large stone from the top of the belfry and hurled it through the roof on to the aisle. The pews and floor were damaged but no one was injured.(8)

The new House of God was to be erected on the site of the old but was to be very much larger and was to consist of a basement and upper church. This determination was arrived at in 1873 but a great business depression and financial disturbance occurred in the Autumn of that year and the project had to be abandoned.

In the following year Bishop Wood gave permission for the dismantling and razing of the old building. The pews were removed on 29 July, 1874 and the school house, then 8 years old, was put in order as a temporary chapel. The men of the parish worked at nights and on holidays to make the excavations for the new church edifice. By 31 August, 1874, the old church building had entirely disappeared. The corner stone of the new building was laid on Sunday, 1 Nov. 1874, by Bishop Wood. The basement was completed and in use in 1875. The ground plan dimensions are 67 feet in

(footnote)

8 The storm may have occurred after the divine services or at night. Perhaps the Church was not used that day. There was no resident pastor.

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and 167 feet in length. Father Haviland succeeded in completing the church walls up to the roof when chronic ill health compelled his resignation from the scene of 27 years of labor. This was in 1877. The last baptismal record of Father Haviland is dated 30 August, 1877.(9)

Feeling the burden of the pastorate too great for him, Father Haviland yet desired to exercise his priestly functions in whatever field of activity his superiors chose. We find him acting for a while as chaplain at the Phladelphia Alms-house and as Assistant to Rev. Michael Filan at the church of the Annunciation, 10th and Dickinson Sts., Philadelphia. In 1882 Father Haviland was made pastor of the church of the Maternity B.V.M. at Bustleton, Philadelphia, a post he held for four years until his death. Says Monsignor Kirlin: ttThe industrial activity had declined; the factories were abandoned; and in 1881, the church at Bustleton was again made a mission from Frankford (St. Joachim's), until the Rev. Arthur P. Haviland was appointed pastor in 1882."

(footnote)

10 Rev. D. I. McDermott acted as pastor from 2 Dec. 1877 to 14 July, 1878.

10 Catholicity in Phi!adelphia-J. L. J. Kirlin p,399

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Father Haviland had been declining in health and finally, on the advice of his physicians, entered St. Joseph's Hospital at 17th St. and Girard Avenue, Philadelphia. Here he tranquilly breathed his last, 22 May, 1886, just a month and a week before his 36th Anniversary in the priesthood and in the 61st year of his age.

In his last illness Father Haviland remembered his long years here at Chester, the days, sometimes of struggle and anxiety, sometimes of industrial depression but always sustained by faith and the generosity of a loyal people. He therefore requested that he be buried in St. Michael's Churchyard. And this was done.

His remanis were brought here on 25 May (1886) and placed on a catafalque before the main Altar. It is estimated that 2000 people walked in the funeral procession and a large throng came to the church to pay their last respects, including men and women in various walks of life and many who were not of the Household of the Faith. On May 26 (1886) a Solemn Mass de Requie was celebrated by Rev. Michael Filan (second) pastor of the Annunciation Church, Philadelphia. The deacon was Rev. Hugh J. McManus of St. Mary Magdalene's, Lost Creek, Pa. The subdeacon was

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Rev. Thomas J. McGlynn, since 1873 pastor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish, Chester. The sermon was preached by Rev. Hugh Lane, a former missioner here.

The honorary pallbearers were Mayor Forwood; P. Mundy; John Larkin, Jr.; Col. S. A. Dyer; Thomas I. Leiper; Major Joseph R. T. Coates; Dr. W. B. Ulrich; S. A. Crozer; L. A. Tucker; M. Connolly; Michael Burk; M. J. Dwyer.

The hallowed remains of Chester's first resident pastor were laid to rest in the Churchyard at the corner of the Church. We give the beautiful Latin inscription on Father Haviland's tomb, the author of which is unknown.

Translation: "Here in the peace of Christ rests Arthur Peter Haviland, a native of Ireland, County Down, who merited exceedingly well of the Catholic religion. Having laid the foundation and built the walls of St. Michael's church, he was in 1877 constrained by ill health to cease from his labors. He, nevertheless, devoted the remaining years of his life to the salvation of Christ's faithful. He died a holy death on 22 May, 1886, after spending sixty-one years on this earth.

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* * * * *

HEIC. IN. PACE. CHRISTI. QUIESCIT.

ARTURUS. PETRUS. HAVILAND.

NAT. HIBERN. CURIO. DEVANUS.

QUI. OPTIME. DE. CATH. RELIG.

MERITUS.

NOVI. TEMPLI. FUNDAMENTIS.

MURISQUE. JAM. EXSTRUCTIS. ANNO.

M,DCCC,LXXVII. INFIRMA.

VALETUDINE.

AB. OPERE. INCEPTO. DESISTERE.

COACTUS. RELIQUAM. VITAE.

PARTEM. PRO. CHRISTIFIDELIUM.

SALUTE. CONSUMPSIT.

________________________________

PIUS. OBIIT. XI KAL. JUNIAS.

ANNO. M,DCCC,LXXXVI.

VIXIT. ANNOS. LXI.

Those who remember Father Haviland speak of him as tall and ascetic but very kindly, esteemed by all, Protestants as well as Catholics. Scenes of unusual sorrow and affection marked his departure from Chester, in 1877. Contemporary accounts (11) speak of the unconcealed grief of his parishioners and others at the meeting held

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to bid him God-speed. A resolution drawn up by St Michael's T.A.B. Society, 7 Oct. 1877, says (in part): " Resolved, That Father Haviland as pastor has by his priestly deportment, zeal in the cause of religion, benevolence and Christian charity, won for himself the affection of his people and the esteem of all classes of the community, and that he carries with him our best wishes that many years of usefulness may be allotted to him wherever the interests of the Church may require his services." Father Haviland replied briefly and feelingly and all knelt to receive his blessing, the last he was destined to impart to them.

This, our first resident pastor, was succeeded by one of his former curates. He is really the founding pastor of this venerable parish and his long career has left here its holy impress.

(footnote)

11 The Chester Evening News, of 1877.

 

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Continue to Part III >


Louis J. Warfel, loujwarfel@juno.com


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

2001 John A. Bullock III.

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