|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, firstname.lastname@example.org
|THE PETER REILLY COMPANY
COPYRIGHT 1942 JOSEPH M. O'HARA
PRIESTS OF ST. MICHAEL'S
A resumé of the Priests who served here from the parish's beginning:
The Very Reverend Edward J. Sourin, Patrick
F. Moriarty, O.S.A., William O'Hara, D.D. The Reverend Patrick F. Sheridan, M. Aloyse,
J. M. Delcros, C.M., James M. Cullen, A. Rossi,1 C.M., Thaddeus Amat, C.M., Hugh Lane.
Pastorate of Rev. Arthur Peter Haviland
(1850 to 1877)
The Reverend: E. Q. S. Waldron (2 baptisms, 22 Aug. 1852);
1 Fathers Rossi, Amat and Sheridan baptized here also after Fr. Haviland's coming.
2 Father Charles J. Maugin was appointed the first resident ( continued bottom of next page)
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.FA. Sharkey, 11 Aug. 1861 to 29 Sept. 1861;
William F. Cook,8 14 July 1862 to 3 November 1867;
Pastorate of Rev. James Timmins
(1878 to 1911)
(First Baptism 14 July, 1878-Mary Teresa Watson).
The Reverend J. F. T. Lynch, 13 Sept. 1878 to 2
(footnote continued from previous page)
pastor at St. Thomas, the Apostle, at Ivy Mills in 1855. In 1858 he was succeeded by the Rev. Nicholas Walsh.
8 Father Cook died in 1900 in Ivy Mills, where he had been rector of the Church of St. Thomas, the Apostle, since 1877.
4 See footnote, Chap. XII, n. 7.
5 Father McGlynn became rector of St. Mark's, Bristol. In (continued next page)
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Pastorate of Rev. Joseph F. Timmins
(1911 to 1917)
The Reverend J. V. Sweeney, 1 Oct. 1911 to 25 May 1913;
(footnote continued from previous page)
1888 he was transferred to St. Paul's, Philadelphia. There he made many improvements in the church properties. He died of apoplexy, 22 August 1894.
6 Father Deering was then a student-priest at the Catholic University, Washington, D. C.
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Pastorate of Rev. James Timmins
(2nd time, 1917 to 1929)
The Reverend Thomas L. Clooney, see above;
Pastorate of Rev. Edward F. X. Curran
(1929 to 1936)
The Reverend John Toner, see above;
Pastorate of Rev. Joseph M. O'Hara
(30 January 1936- )
The Reverend Anthony L. McCarron, see above;
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William P. Twohig, 19 Nov. 1936 to 9 June, 1941;
7 Father Dunion is Professor of Science at the St. James High School but assists here during the summer months.
An attempt has been made to gather the details of the interesting and very important First Masses celebrated in this venerable parish. We have to some extent succeeded. Alas! some of the Celebrants are dead. Some are at a great distance. Some were to send the account of their first Solemn Mass but were unaware of the deadline imposed by the publishers. We give what we have (with painful research) gathered together.
The Rev. Joseph V. Sweeney was ordained 27 May 1893 in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, by the Most Rev. Arch-bishop Patrick John Ryan, D.D. On 28 May he sang here his first solemn Mass. The church was thronged with relatives, friends, and well wishers of the young priest. The deacon was the Rev. Joseph F. Timmins, then a curate at St. Michael's; the subdeacon was Mr. Lawrence A. Deering, of St. Charles' Seminary at ver-brook. The Master of Ceremonies was James
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Kelley. The Rev. James Timmins, Pastor, preached the sermon.
A special choir sang Mozart's Twelfth Mass, under the leadership of George Courtney, choirmaster of the Church of the Assumption B.V.M. at 12th and Spring Garden Sts., Philadelphia. Professor Oglesby's Orchestra assisted.
The Rev. Lawrence A. Deering, a native of this parish, and a member of a well-known family, was ordained by Archbishop Ryan in the Cathedral, Philadelphia, 30 May, 1896, and celebrated his first Solemn Mass on the next day. The deacon was the Rev. Joseph P. Monville, now Rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit, Sharon Hill, Pa. The subdeacon was the Rev. William J. Higgins, since deceased (27 April, 1940). The deacon and the subdeacon were seminarians at St. Charles Seminary, Overbrook, Pa.) The Master of Ceremonies was the Rev. John D. Maguire, The Rev. Joseph L. O'Connor, of Pottsville, was present in the sanctuary.
Gounod's Mass was sung by St. Michael's Choir, assisted by members of the leading church choirs of Philadelphia, who sang the solo parts. Prof. W. J. Oglesby accompanied the organ with his orchestra of 15 pieces
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The attendance in the church was notably large. The ushers were: Messrs. D. Frank Carroll, Edward Conahan, Joseph Dougherty, John Doyle, John Grundy, Jr., Charles Hansel, Edward Johnson, James Johnson, Martin Maloy, Joseph Messick, Jr., George Sweeney, Lawrence Tucker, Jr.
In the evening Father Deering carried the Monstrance in a solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the close of the 26th annual May Celebration of St. Michael's B.V.M. Sodality. The singing was led by Miss Celia Marron, with a cornet accompaniment by Thomas J. Ross. Miss Nellie Finegan presided at the organ. The sermon was preached by the Rev. John J. Greensill, a curate at St. Clement's, Paschalville.
The Rev. P. A. Brennan, a native of this parish and a member of a well-known family, now the beloved Rector of St. Joseph's-on-the-Brandy-wine in the Wilmington Diocese, was ordained in the historic Cathedral, Basilica of the Assumption B.V.M. at Baltimore. He was raised to the sacred priesthood by His Eminence the late (died 24 March, 1921) James Cardinal Gibbons on 21 Dec. 1907. Father Brennan's first Solemn Mass was celebrated in St. Michael's Church. The deacon was the
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late Rev. Dr. Win. Temple of Wilmington. The subdeacon was the Rev. Lawrence A. Deering. The Rev. Joseph F. Timinins acted as Arch-priest. The sermon was preached by the pastor, the Rev. James Timmins. The Master of Ceremonies was Mr. Peter A. Stewart, then a Seminarian. The church was crowded to capacity so that even the galleries had to be used.
As a boy Father Brennan attended St. Michael's school, first in the old building and then in the present structure. He entered St. Charles College, Ellicott City, Md. (14 Sept. 1898) and later St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, until his ordination.
The Rev. Peter A. Stewart, a native of the parish and a member of a well-known family, and now the beloved Rector in Chester of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a daughter parish of St. Michael's, was ordained by the Most Rev. E. F. Prendergast, D.D., in the Cathedral, Philadelphia, 22 May, 1915. He celebrated his first Solemn Mass in St. Madeline's Church, Ridley Park, Pa. On Sunday, 30 May, 1915, Father Stewart sang High Mass in St. Michael's and imparted his blessing to the large throng of the
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faithful who filled the church on this auspicious occasion. The sermon was preached by the pastor, the Rev. James Timmins. The music was in charge of St. Michael's Choir.
The Rev. Jose ph B. Muldoon, ass't Rector at the historic Church of St. Patrick, Philadelphia, was ordained to the holy priesthood by His Eminence Dennis Cardinal Dougherty, 25 May, 1929. His first Solemn Mass was celebrated here the next day. The deacon was the Rev. John J. Toner; the subdeacon, Rev. James A. Boland. The Archpriest was the Rev. Edward F. X. Curran, Pastor. The sermon was preached by Father Toner. St. Michael's Choir rendered Gounod's Mass. Father Muldoon and his family are very well and favorably known in Chester and its environs so that a large throng of people attended the first Solemn Mass. After the Mass Father Muldoon imparted his blessing individually to all present. In the evening he gave Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament to the congregation.
The Rev. James Raymond Mullen, O.S.F.S., a native of the parish, and a member of a well known family, attended St. Michael's Parish School, the Salesianum High School at
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Wilmington, Del., and the Catholic University at Washington. He was ordained to the priesthood at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Washington, D. C.
Father Mullen's First Solemn Mass was celebrated in St. Michael's Church on 14 June, 1931. The deacon of the Mass was the Rev. Henry Vergeiner, O.S.F.S. of Northeast Catholic High School, Philadelphia; the subdeacon was the Rev. Francis J. Green, O.S.F.S. The Master of Ceremonies was Mr. Francis Carr, then a Seminarian at our great Seminary at Overbrook. After the Mass Father Mullen imparted his blessing to each of the large throng present.
The Rev. Francis X. Doherty, C.M., Ass't Treasurer of St. Vincent's Seminary, Germantown, a native of the parish and a member of a well-known family, said his first Solemn Mass, 11 June, 1933 before a large congregation. The deacon was the Rev. John H. Dougherty, C.M.; the subdeacon, the Rev. James Raymond Mullen, O.S.F.S. The Assistant Priest was the Rev. Henry F. Golden. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Robert S. Grogan, C.M. To the large throng of friends and well-wishers Father imparted his blessing.
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The Rev. John F. Lenny, S. J., a native of this parish, was raised to the sacred priesthood on 25 June, 1938 at Woodstock College, Woodstock, Md. Although his family had been resident for some years in Philadelphia, Father Lenny decided, to the joy of his many friends in Chester, to celebrate his first Holy Mass at St. Michael's. He was assisted by Rev. Joseph M. O'Hara, Pastor, as Archpriest. The Rev. Francis C. Carr was deacon and the Rev. James A. V. Buckley, S.J., was subdeacon. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Francis Bradley, S.J. A large congregation was in attendance, made up of Father Lenny's friends in Philadelphia, as well as in Chester.
The Rev. Joseph McBride, G.M., was elevated to the eternal priesthood in the Cathedral, Philadelphia, Saturday, 30 May, 1942 by His Eminence, Cardinal Dougherty. A member of a well-known family, whose father does invaluable service in the work of St. Vincent de Paul, a large throng of the faithful was attracted to his first Solemn Mass. It was the first time a newly ordained priest had sung his first Mass in the renovated Saint Michael's.
The deacon was the Rev. James W. Lutz, of St. Peter's Cathedral, Wilmington, Del.; the sub-
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deacon the Rev. Vincent R. Young, C.M., of Niagara University. The sermon was preached by the Rev. John H. Dougherty, C.M. The pastor acted as Archpriest.
THE PRESENT-DAY ST. MICHAEL'S
In the Preface to this history we took occasion to remark that many such histories seemed, in our pinion, to lay too much stress on the purely physical or external activities of parish life. Here, as elsewhere, the spiritual side of parish activity has not been neglected. Masses sufficient in number and at suitable hours are celebrated for the faithful. There are evening devotions, tridua, novenas; and confessions are heard on every Saturday afternoon and evening, before the First Friday, on the eves of the major festivals, and on Sunday mornings.
One of the most appealing devotions in this church, and throughout the Archdiocese, is the annual Eucharistic celebration called the Forty Hours. This beautiful and consoling three days devotion in honor of Christ's real, true and substantial presence in the most Blessed Sacrament is continuous in this Diocese. ttBishop Neumann was the first American bishop to introduce the Forty Hours as a diocesan institution.
* * * * * The first to celebrate it was St. Philip Neri's Church, Philadelphia. The Bishop himself inaugurated and directed the solemnity." (1)
In this parish the Forty Hours is, by diocesan regulation, held in the Fall of the year, after the children have returned to school. It is a beautiful time, with many flowers; and the various exercises are well attended. In 1936 the solemnities began on Sunday, 13 Sept. The sermons were preached by the Very Rev. J. Francis Tucker, O.S.F.S. of Wilmington, Del. In 1937 the solemnities began on 7 November. The sermons were preached by the staff of St. Michael's. In 1938 (Sept. 11-13) the sermons were delivered by the Rev. Anthony J. Flynn, S.T.L., Ph.D. In 1939 (Sept. 10-12) the Rev. John A. Luscan, M.A., preached the course. In 1940 (8 Sept.) the Forty Hours Devotion was opened with Solemn Mass by the Rt. Rev. Francis Brennan, D.D., J.U.D., Auditor (Judge) of the Sacred Roman Rota, the first American to occupy this exalted post. The sermons were preached by the pastor. In 1941 (Oct. 12-14) the sermons were preached by the Rev. Joseph A. Ward, Ph.D., of the faculty of St. Charles Seminary, Overbrook, Pa.
( footnote )
1 Records Am. Cath. Hist. Soc., Vol. LII, p. 30.
* * * * * This was the first celebration of the Forty Hours on our new rubrical Altar.
The following gentlemen of the parish have acted as Canopy-Bearers in the solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the Forty Hours Celebration and during Holy Week: Dr. Paul A. Buckley, Dr. William B. Evans, (2) Dr. Frank H. Murray, Messrs. John T. Ross, Thomas P. Boyle, John L. Clancy, Jacob C. Hoffman, Thomas J. Kennelly, Louis Warfel, John McCabe, John A. Doran, P. J. McBride, Harry J. Blizzard, Francis Desmond, Daniel C. Doherty, Charles J. Nolan.
A Retreat or Mission is conducted here every triennium. The Redemptorist Fathers preached a very successful Mission here, beginning 19 September and ending 3 October 1937. Large throngs approached the Sacraments from this and neighboring parishes. The Paulist Fathers of New York were in charge of the two weeks Mission of 1940, beginning on 6 October and ending 20 October. The preachers were Very Rev. Stephen Latchford, C.S.P., and Rev. Edward Gleason,C.S.P., and great success attended their efforts.
2 Dr. Evans. famous physician and surgeon, died 15 February, 1942.
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The Conference of St. Vincent de Paul
This Christ-like organization has existed for many years in St. Michael's parish. It goes about its work quietly and with no ostentation. It's saintly founder, Vincent de Paul (born at Gascony, France, 1576; died at Paris 1660) would have those who deal with God's poor go about their work with holy stealth, avoiding publicity and all that might wound the most sensitive feelings.
With the physical aid and comfort given to the afflicted, he would have his disciples mingle needed spiritual counsel; and all under the guidance of the pastor as one having to render an account to God of the souls entrusted to his care. Our conference men do their work well and in a manner that would, I think, meet the approval of the great St. Vincent. We gladly record their names: P. J. McBride, James A. Bray, Thomas Dolan, James J. Marshall, Edward Murphy, James E. McClay
Much of the external dignity and decorum of divine worship is due to our devoted Ushers. They gladly give of their time and labor in this sacred
* * * *
cause. For the sake of the record we subjoin an
alphabetic list of their names.
John Birk, William Bunce, William A. Cassidy, John L. Clancy, Joseph Devlin, William Donlevie, John A. Doran, Robert Greenhalgh, Jacob Hoffman, Floyd Kraft, Albert Lansberry, Lawrence Linden, James Marshall, Edward Murphy, James McClay, Edward McGinley, Joseph Prendergast, Raymond Quinn, Earl Vail, Jr., Louis Warfel, George J. White.
Holy Name Society
This Society is, thank God, in a flourishing condition in our parish. Its aims are too well known to need re-capitulation. Its object is to have Catholic men lead the fullness of Catholic life, by union in prayer and in the reception of Penance and Holy Communion, with, of course, love of the Divine Saviour.
The present officers are: President, James J. Marshall; Vice-president, Francis Desmond; Recording Secretary, George J. White; Spiritual Director and Treasurer, Rev. Thomas J. Corrigan; Marshalls, William T. Donlevie and William Higgins.
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Holy Name Region
On 30 January, 1942 a meeting of the Reverend Pastors of the Chester district and the officers of the Holy Name Societies was held in St. Michael's church. The Rev. John J. McKenna, Archdiocesan Spiritual Director of the Holy Name Societies and formerly a Curate here, presided and outlined the purpose of the meeting, namely to form a new Holy Name Region for Chester and its environs. Mr. Sidney Flood, of Philadelphia, President of the Holy Name Societies, also spoke. Mr. George F. White was appointed pro tem District President. At the first District meeting Mr. White was unani-mously elected President.
The First Regional Communion Breakfast
This interesting and important event took place at Old St. Michael's Sunday, 14 June, 1942. Two hundred Holy Name men from the district attended a special Mass at 8 o'clock, celebrated by Father Corrigan. Fathers O'Hara and Dunion distributed Holy Communion.
At the breakfast which followed, the principal
speakers were Tommy Loughran, Sidney Flood
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and George White. To the last named is largely due the splendid success of the first Communion Breakfast. We trust that it will become an annual affair.
The Saint Michael's C.T.A.
One of the best known Catholic organizations in Chester is St. Michael's Catholic Total Abstinence Society. On 8 April, 1942 it gave its 38th Annual Minstrel Show-a great success. This performance was repeated at Columbus Hall for the Soldiers' and Sailors' Entertainment Committee.
The C.T.A. has labored zealously and successfully for the welfare of youth here, not only by enrolling them in its ranks but by providing recreational and athletic events for them. Its present officers are: President, William P. Bunce; 1st Vice-Pres., Eugene Hoffman; 2nd Vice-Pres., Hugh J. Friel; Recording Secretary, Earl Vail; Financial Secretary, Thomas McCarron; Treasurer, Edward Murphy.
The C.T.A. is the successor and continuer of
St. Michael's Total Abstinence Benevolent Society, organized 1 December, 1872 by Father
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Haviland. The first officers were: James Sweeney, President; S. D. Corson, Vice-President; Rev. A. P. Haviland, Chaplain; James O'Dougherty, Recording Secretary; T. D. Finnegan, Financial Secretary; E. McCarey, Corresponding Secretary; John Harkins, Treasurer; Patrick Sweeney, Marshall; John McCallion, Messenger and Sergeant-at-Arms.
The above initials are those of our Church Centennial Association, an organization to help the pastor in financing the many improvements and repairs made in the church edifice. The dues are twenty-five cents weekly for each share. All who can do so are asked to make themselves responsible for at least one share. One may also enroll the dead. Our appeal met with an instant and generous and lasting response. The C.C.A. was inaugurated 7 July, 1941 with Father Thomas J. Corrigan as spiritual director. Collectors are chosen, men of culture as well as of zeal for God's house, who visit weekly every family in the parish. We gratefully record their names: JamesDolan,
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Durbin F. Trout, Edward C. McGinley,
William P. Bunce, Albert Lansberry, William
O'Leary, Harvey J. Fremont, Norman Udovich,
Joseph Skelley, Hugh Gordon, Sr., Joseph Me-
trick, George J. White, George Shinn, Harry
Blizzard, Daniel P. Desmond, Francis Desmond,
Sr., Edward Murphy, Thomas Carr, Edward
O'Doherty, Hugh J. Friel, James Garvey, Louis
Warfel, Jr., James J. Marshall, Louis Warfel, Sr.,
John Donlevie, William T. Donlevie, James Callahan, Charles J. Moreno, Thomas McCarron,
Michael Callahan, Charles Carr, Guerino V. Di
Marcella, John Tisdale, Francis LeTourneau.
The Blessed Virgin's Sodality
We have already spoken (Chap. XIII) of this society so highly approved and so richly indulgenced by Holy Church. In this parish it has had a long and exceedingly honorable history. At present it meets on Sunday evenings. Annually it holds its May Celebration, preserving a tradition of nearly seventy-five years. Besides the spiritual upbuilding of its members it has often assisted in the adornment of God's house.
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As noted above (Chapter XVII) the Sodality donated a splendid marble Holy Water Font to the Church. Last Easter (5 April, 1942) it generously outfitted our sanctuary boys with new cassocks and surplices. At present the officers are:
Spiritual Director, Rev. James P. Brennan; Prefect, Miss Marian R. Strain; Ass't Prefect, Miss Mary J. Ryan; Ass't Prefect, Miss Frances Dolan; Secretary, Miss Mary E. Devlin; Treasurer, Miss Matilda M. Culbert.
The population of Chester is normally about 59,000; it is now officially 83,000. Even before our beloved country had declared war on the Axis Nations, the influx had begun. Accordingly the churches of Chester re-arranged their schedules of Masses to accommodate the larger attendance. St. Michael's added a Mass.
For the sake of the record we give the present schedule: SundayMasses are at 5:45; 6:45; 7:45; 8:45; 10 and 11 o'clock. Holyday Masses are 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12:05 noon. Weekday Masses are at 6:30 and 8 o'clock. First Friday Masses are 5:30; 6:30 and 8 o'clock.
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Visiting clergy and laity have not infrequently commented on the high quality of the singing at Old St. Michael's. The choir is under the leadership of Mrs. Edward C. McGinley and has been since the Fall of 1935. We given an alphabetical list of the choir: Mr. Joseph Cape, Mr. Clement Morgan, Mr. Arthur Roache, Mrs. Emily Blair, Miss Gertrude Bradley, Mrs. Anna Bray, Mrs. Lillian Carey, Mrs. Barbara Cowles, Miss Mary Holman, Mrs. Elsie Lambert, Mrs. A. Louis Pescatore, Mrs. Carol Reed, Mrs. Anna Strayhorn, Miss Gertrude Traub, Miss Mary Traub, Miss Anna Jean White.
Our Sanctuary Boys
For years past the acolytes of St. Michael's have been noted for their decorum and regularity in attendance at the various church functions. This happy condition is due to the zeal and knowledge of the various curates who have devoted long hours to teaching and training those who serve at God's altar.
It were too long to give a list of these assistant
priests; and of the long line of boys and young
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men whom they trained, some of whom are now priests. Suffice it to say that the present Spiritual Director of the Sanctuary Society is the Reverend James P. Brennan who keeps up all the best traditions of Old St. Michael's. Following is the list of the young gentlemen who at present assist the priests at the various sacred functions: William Smith, Thomas Williams, Maurice Bufano, James Durkin, Raymond Doyle, Edward McGinniss, James Morgan, John Borsuk, Thomas McGowan, Joseph Carr, Philip Green, Paul Gillerlain, Michael Sikorski, Richard Riper, John Robinson, Francis Bielski, John Cauley, Raymond Forbes, Ernest Gatto, William C. Suberes, William Bernhardt.
Our Oldest Native Resident
We take this occasion to salute Mrs. Catherine
A. Bruton Walsh. She was born in Old St. Michael's Parish, 9 November, 1859 and has lived here continuously (83 years) ever since. Here she was baptized, received First Holy Communion and Confirmation and entered into Matrimony. We trust God will spare her for many years.
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Our Latest School Closing Exercises
(From the Evening Bulletin of Philadelphia,
Sat. 13 June, 1942): Closing exercises of St.
Michael's School were held yesterday in St.
Michael's Church, Edgmont av. near 7th St.,
Chester. The Rev. Dr. Joseph M. O'Hara, rector, officiated.
Certificates were awarded to the following students who have completed the eighth grade:
Albert F. Lenchinski, Joseph M. Galoonis, William J. Smith, Joseph A. Sullivan, Eugene J. Mea, John J. Collins, Philip T. Breen, Thomas R. Williams, Robert J. News, John A. Morris, Edwin J. Zabilowiz, William T. King, Eugene P. Barr, John C. Holman, Owen P. McCarron, Paul J. Lukes, Joseph W. Morgan, Ralph V. Crisanti, James W. Durkin, Francis H. Joyce, Peter J. Nolan, William C. Hamilton, Francis J. Tracy, James J. Forde, Maurice W. Bufano, Jerry R. News, Eugene F. Bolton, Louis J. Peters and Joseph F. Dolan.
Marie A. Hogan, Therese M. Prenton, Anna Mae A. Cassidy, Eleanor J. Subers, Marie Patricia A. Grant, Inez M. Udovich, Hannah M. O'Doherty, Dolores A. Gill, Rose M. Schulberger, Eleanor A. Getek,
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Anna M. Desmond, Mary E. Walker, Elizabeth R. Hamilton, Gertrude M. Gillespie, Elizabeth M. McLaughlin, Rita A. McFate, Mary K. Bingnear, Mary Anne M. Bonner, Anne M. O'Connor, Alice A. Griesmeyer, Viola
B. Falcone, Elizabeth A. Heck, Anna M. Kricke, Alma C. Mahoney, Dorothy A. Rhoades, Barbara F. Perkins, Dorothy F. Devlin, Gertrude B. McCoach, Margaret H. McDermott, Mary E. Patton and Anna M. Gessler.
Prizes for the highest general scholastic average were awarded to William J. Smith and Marie A. Hogan. Mary A. Bonner, won the religious award; Marie P. A. Grant, the English prize, and John H. Holman, mathematics.
The annual American Legion medal for scholarship and service was voted by the class to Joseph F. Dolan. A special prize for perseverance was awarded to John J. Collins.
Highest general average awards were made as follows: 7th grade, James A. Monaghan and Elizabeth J. McDermott; 6th grade, Ernest Gatta and Ellen Kirkman; 5th grade, Robert Smith and Margaret Byrne; 4th grade, William Carey and Cecilia Niedziejko; 3rd grade, Richard Kirkman and Teresa Petrone; 2nd grade, Albert H. Brady
* * * * *
and Mary A. Hoffman, and 1st grade, Robert
Yargatis and Mary A. Clayton.
Certificates were awarded to 56 pupils for perfect attendance and punctuality during the
A scholarship to Holy Child Academy, Sharon
Hill, was awarded to Marie P. A. Grant.
Twenty-two pupils from three Catholic high schools who were graduated from St. Michael's School in 1938 were congratulated by Father O'Hara. They are: Andrew Delaney, William Donlevie, Ralph Grieco, Martin Mulcahy, John O'Doherty, Joseph Redding, Francis Sadowski, Francis Talbot, Louis Warfel, Robert Gilman, Lawrence Ryan, John Taylor, Cornelius White, Dorothy Ahern, Elizabeth Blizzard, Bernadette Duffy, Margaret Evans, Catherine Higley, Dolores Joyce, Lillian Korsak, Francis Lawler, Loretta McDade.
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The years have strengthened rather than weakened our well-loved parish. Many have labored Thut God hath given the increase." The first full year of recorded baptisms here was 1846. Eleven were baptized. Last year (1941)
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the priests of St. Michael's baptized 107 persons. Our first conferring of the great Sacrament of Confirmation was in 1845 by Bishop Kenrick upon a class of twenty-four. Last year (28 Sept. 1941) His Excellency, the Most Reverend Hugh L. Lamb, D.D., Bishop of Hela and Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, confirmed here a class of 267. Of these, twenty-nine were converts to our holy religion. This year (Sunday 10 May 1942) 47 boys and 49 girls received Holy Communion for the first time, in the beautiful and harmonious and altogether lovely ceremonial upon whose preparation the Sisters of St. Joseph spent such loving care. At our last celebration of the Forty Hours, 2960 approached the Sacred Table to receive Holy Communion.
Physically speaking, St. Michael's forms an oasis, a beauty spot in the center of Chester's business district. Its well kept green lawns and hedges, its flower beds, its trees, its splendid, towering church facade are in marked and highly pleasant contrast to its environs. Merchants have assured the writer that one of their chief assets is proximity to Old St. Michael's and in this they spoke, perhaps, better than they knew for this parish has become, analogously to St. John's in
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Philadelphia, a place of religious resort. Shoppers in large numbers from many districts like to come to Chester because they can on the same occasion go to confession at St. Michael's. Moreover the church is kept open from dawn to dark so that the faithful and even those who are not of the household of the faith may pause within its hallowed precincts and invite their souls in God's presence. These things allure people to Chester and aid very materially in its prosperity.
But in a much more direct manner, a thing that can be rung up on a cash register, St. Michael's is one of Chester's best benefactors. In its parish school it educates annually 505 children. In the public schools the per capita cost of teaching in the elementary schools is $100 per annum. Thus we save the City of Chester annually $50,500. And this is to say nothing of the cost of the new elementary school building that would have to be erected if St. Michael's school were discontinued. As regards High School, we of St. Michael's annually educate 101 pupils without a penny of expense to the taxpayers. These pupils if turned over to the public school authorities, as we have a perfect
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legal right to do, would annually cost the city $12,625 or $125 per pupil (1)
Despite all this the annual bill of our Parish for taxes and water rates amounts at present to $1134.97, to say nothing of the personal school tax.
We are justifiably proud of St. Michael's School. Excellent work is done there, quietly and efficiently, with little or no display. In truth our Sisters are so skilled in all that makes for good teaching and good discipline that it is only at times of Forty Hours Devotion, May Processions, Confirmation, etc. (when the children are, as it were, on parade) that the generality of parishioners give thought to the splendid work the school is doing.
Our School is conducted by the Sisters of St.
Joseph. Our present staff is made up of Mother
Mary of the Passion, Sister St. Jude, Sister Mary Ita, Sister Saint Charles, Sister Constance, Sister Terese Pauline, Sister Marie George, Sister Ermenild, Sister Saint Martha, Sister Genevieve Marie, Sister Alphonsus Liguori.
There is a custom, as long standing as it is beautiful, whereby former parishioners of Old
1 There are in Chester five other Catholic parishes with
schools. Each of these parishes similarly saves the City enormous sums of money annually.
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St. Michael's return at recurring intervals for divine worship amidst dear and familiar and hallowed surroundings. This is especially true of the Masses on Christmas and on Easter Sunday and at the closing of the Forty Hours Devotion. We need not say that this practise is full of consolation and inspiration for the priests of the parish. To all of us it seems to add to the joyousness of the occasion and to make for an atmosphere of home-coming in the midst of divine worship.
OUR HEAVENLY PATRON
Our parish has the splendid distinction that the cornerstone of its original church edifice and the dedication of its present church building both took place on 29 September, the Feast of the Dedication of Saint Michael, Archangel. Our Parish, under God, is dedicated to this great Archangel.
The name Michael is Hebrew and means who is like God? We read in the last book of the Bible, the Apocalypse, the account of a mysterious and titanic conflict in the courts of heaven.: "And there was a great battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels: and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven." (1) "We will be like God," cried the rebellious angels. And Michael at the head of his indomitable cohort raised the battle-cry, "Who is like God?" (Mich-a-el). And
1 Apocalypse, XII, 7, 8.
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the first and most terrible of all battles ended, as it needs must, in a victory for God. Lucifer, the bright heavenly star, becomes the black and scowling devil and he and his rebels are cast headlong into the hell just created for them. "I saw Satan like lightning," says our Divine Saviour," fall from heaven."
We cannot, of course, form a mental image of an angel, of those pure spirits without bodies created by God to form his heavenly court. We know that they shine with an overwhelming brightness beyond all human thought or comprehension. In the natural order man is greatly inferior to even the lowest angel.
The number of angels is stupendously large. As St. Thomas tells us, the number of angelic natures is far beyond all material multitude. In other words, all numbers that we can figure or conceive in all the vast regions of the created universe fall far short of the numerical actuality of the angels. Of all this stupendous throng of the heavenly host only three are known to us by name, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael. All of them are archangels.
Indeed the name angel is in itself somewhat inaccurate. It comes to us from the Greek
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through the Latin and means a messenger. Yet, as far as we know, only a few angels have been employed by God as messengers to men. St. Gregory says that thus the name of the office is used as though designating the nature of these pure spirits. The same saint tells us that the angels form nine orders or choirs. The Fathers of the Church place Michael in the highest rank of cherubim or seraphim.
Four times Saint Michael is mentioned in the Bible but the Fathers tell us that very often there is reference to Michael in passages where his name is not given; for instance, he is the Angel who guarded the gate of Paradise when our first parents, Adam and Eve, were cast out; he is the Angel through whom God published the Ten Commandments to His chosen people. In fact the Greek Fathers place him over all the Angels, making him the Prince of the Seraphim. He is truly the Angel Guardian General of the entire Church of God.
There is something of utter sublimity in the thought that this deathless spirit comes down to this earth at tremendously long intervals in the affairs of men. He appears, does God's will and departs-for centuries.
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In the mysterious vision of Daniel "by the great river which is the Tigris" we read: "the prince of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me one and twenty days: And behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me." (2) This was 536 years before the birth of Our Lord. And again: "But at that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people." We also read of him as "disputmg with the devil, contending about the body of Moses." (4)
By his ineffable triumph over the powers of evil in that primal Apocalytic combat Michael earned the right to be considered in liturgy and tradition as the champion and protector of God's church. For instance, in the prayers ordered to be said after every low Mass for the good estate of Christ's Mystical Body, the Church, Michael is addressed as "Prince of the Heavenly Host" and besought to defend us and to be our safeguard against all diabolic snares and pitfalls.
In the general confession or Confiteor the
Church places St. Michael immediately after
2 Daniel, X, 13.
3Daniel, XII, 1.
4 St. Jude, I, 9.
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God's blessed Mother: "I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary, ever a virgin, to blessed Michael, the Archangel." And in the Recommendation of a Departing Soul the Church asks the Lord: "May St. Michael, the Archangel, the chief of the heavenly host, conduct him." In the Roman Missal we read: "0 Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell, and from the depths of the pit: deliver them from the mouth of the lion, lest hell swallow them up, lest they fall into darkness; but, let the Standard-bearer, St. Michael, bring them into the holy light.Which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham, and to his seed."
"We offer Thee, 0 Lord, a sacrifice of praise and prayers: do Thou accept them in behalf of those souls whom we this day commemorate. Grant, 0 Lord, that they may pass from death to life.
"Which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham, and to his seed."
Certain it is that Christian tradition assigns to
this resplendent angel four special offices-
(5) Offertory of Requiem Mas.ses, Roman MissaI.
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(1) To fight without ceasing against Satan.
(2) To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the devil, especially at the
hour of death.
(3) To be the champion or defender of God's people.
(4) To conduct the faithful souls to heaven.
Certainly the liturgical prayers of the Church reveal her mind concerning our heavenly patron. The ancient adage tells us that as Holy Church prays so does she believe.(6) Indeed St. Basil and other Greek Fathers, consider that Saint Michael is placed over the entire angelic host.
I think that the Prince of the Angels, Michael, has singularly blessed this parish for a whole century-since the cornerstone of the church (i.e., the first church not the present structure) was laid by Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick on Sept. 29, 1842 under the invocation of this refulgent Archangel.
And so the parish begins a new century of service for man and praise for God. The century past was, we trust, an earnest of God's grace in the future. May the labors of the devout men of God
6 Lex orand~, lex credendi.
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who have tilled and tended the soil here in the past be not in vain but rise as a pleasing odor to God, for mercy and sanctification.
May Michael by the power of the most holy Trinity, continue to battle for and with us against all the enemies of our salvation, for "man's life on earth is a warfare," as Holy Job says. May he in God's allotted time conduct us all to the blessed light of God's presence.
We have seen that Bishop Kenrick in purchasing ground for St. Michael's Parish was careful to state in the Indenture itself that the ground was: In trust to and for the use of the Roman Catholic Congregation of Chester, Delaware County, and vicinity, their successors and assigns forever." At one time, therefore, all Chester (and more) was comprised in St. Michael's parish. Through the Providence of God the growth of Catholicism has been so great that one parish could not possibly minister to the faithful now resident here. There are, therefore, six additional parishes in the territory of Chester alone. Of them we shall briefly speak.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish
The first division of St. Michael's parish was
made in 1873 when the parish of the Immaculate
Heart of Mary was formed in the Borough of
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South Chester(1) by Bishop Wood. The first pastor was the Rev. John B. Kelly who died in a few days. He was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas
J. McGlynn who had been a curate at St. Michael's for more than three years. Father McGlynn's pastorate lasted for twenty-nine years. On Rosary Sunday, 1 October, 1876, the present brick church of Gothic design was dedicated by Bishop Wood. The Bishop was assisted by the Reverend pastor, by the Rev. Augustin J. McConomy, Chancellor of the Diocese; Edmund F. Prendergast, later Archbishop of Philadelphia; Francis P. O'Neill who died as pastor of St. James in Philadelphia in 1882; Alexander A. Gallagher, noted as a singer, who died 22 Oct. 1904, as pastor of the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation, Philadelphia; Thomas J. Barry, who died as pastor of St. Anne's church, Philadelphia, 21 August, 1901 and Rev. James Timmins (see above, Chapter XIII).
In 1883 the parish school, of brick and three stories in height was built. The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, were invited to take charge. They accepted and are still conducting
1 It was not until 1897 that the Borough of South Chester became part of the City of Chester . See chapter V, footnote 4
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the school. Father McGlynn died in 1902 and was buried in the churchyard between the rectory and the church.
The Rev. Peter J. Ryan succeeded Father McGlynn in 1901. Father Ryan made extensive alterations and repairs in the church edifice, which was reopened for divine service on Holy Thursday, 1908. He died 29 September, 1920 in the forty-first year of his priesthood. He was buried at St. Peter's Cemetery, Reading, Pa. He was succeeded by the Rev. Francis McGinn in the same year. Father McGinn administered the parish in a wise and kindly manner for nine years when he was transferred to St. Veronica's, Philadelphia, where he died. The Rev. Patrick H. McGinnis was pastor from 28 September, 1927 till 8 March 1934, when he was transferred to St. Michael's in Philadelphia. Father McGinnis made extensive repairs and alterations in the various parish buildings during his pastorate of over six years.
The present beloved Rector, the Rev. Peter
A. Stewart is very well known to the people of
Chester and vicinity, being a native of Old St.
Michael's. A very large throng of clergy and
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laity assisted at his Silver Jubilee in the priesthood in May, 1940.
Father Stewart was appointed pastor, 30 March, 1934. Since then he has carefully seen to the necessary repairs and upkeep of the various parish buildings. In particular he completely remodeled and renovated the church interior so that it ranks now as one of the most beautiful in Chester. He is assisted by the Rev. David V. Brown, and the Rev. James F. McDonald. In residence is the Rev. Edmund J. Rafferty, Professor and Musical Director at the St. James High School of this city.
St. Hedwig's Parish
In 1902 the Polish Catholics of this city, who had come hither for employment in the various industries, petitioned Archbishop Ryan for a priest of their nationality. He appointed the Rev. Mieczyslaw Kopytkiewicz. Several other priests were appointed during the first few years and then Father Leo Wiezynski was pastor for seven years. During that time he opened the parish school and invited the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis to take charge.
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For them he built a convent. He also finished the rectory and secured a plot of ground at Fourth and Hayes Streets.
[n 1915 the Rev. James L. Ploszajj was appointed pastor. Immediately he began the erection of the present splendid stone parish church. Archbishop Prendergast laid the cornerstone on 30 May, 1916. A year and a half later (25 November, 1917) Rt. Rev. John J. McCort, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, dedicated the new edifice. In 1926 Father Ploszaj built a new school building to accommodate the increasing number of children seeking Catholic education. The building was blessed by His Eminence Cardinal Dougherty in July 1926. The present Rector of St. Michael's preached the sermon. Father Ploszaj died on 7 November, 1932 and was succeeded by the Rev. Gabriel Krouse who successfully administered the parish for over five years. He died 8 April 1938 and was succeeded by the Rev. Peter J. Klekotka, J.C.D., the present beloved rector. At present Dr. Klekotka is engaged in remodeling and frescoing the church interior. He is assisted by the Rev. Stanislaus M. Solecki.
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Church of the Resurrection of Our Lord
Early in the year 1911 a new parish was formed from territory of the Immaculate Heart Parish. The Rev. Augustin L. Ganster (ordained 26 July, 1904, at Innsbruck) was appointed pastor. He purchased the Bent property, which included a residence, at Ninth Street and Highland Avenue, on which he erected the present combined church and school. Holy Mass was celebrated in the new edifice, 26 November 1911. On the same day, Archbishop Prendergast laid the cornerstone. Father Ganster also provided a convent for the Sisters of St. Francis (1) whom he invited to take charge of the school. Father Ganster died 16 June, 1938 and was succeeded by the Very Rev. MonSignor Francis E. Hyland, J.C.D. (8 Sept. 1938). Monsignor Hyland, while eager and anxious for the spiritual progress of his people also looked carefully to the upkeep of the various parish buildings, repaired and modernized the Rectory and beautified the church interior. In 1941, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Hyland was appointed to Our Lady of Lourdes Church,
(1) Institute of the Third Order of the Sisters of St. Francis, Philadelphia Foundation.
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Philadelphia. He was succeeded (25 March, 1941) by the present beloved rector, Rev. Terence A. Brady. Father Brady is assisted by the Rev. William H. Conley and the Rev. Patrick H. Foley. The Rev. Louis A. Eltz, J.C.D., Professor at the St. James High School, this city is in residence.
St. Anthony's Parish
The Italian Catholics of Chester, before obtaining their own place of Divine worship were invited by Father Joseph F. Timmins to make use of St. Michael's basement church. This they did, thus forming a bond of union between the two parishes that still remains unbroken.
The first pastor was the Rev. P. Pillarella who resigned. He was succeeded by the Rev. Antonio Garritano (12 Dec. 1912) who began a pastorate of fourteen years. Father Garritano broke ground for the present church edifice in April, 1913. The cornerstone was laid, 11 June 1913. On 14 June 1914 the completed edifice was dedicated by the Most Rev. Archbishop Edmond F. Prendergast, D.D. Following the dedication, Solemn Mass coram arcbiepiscopo
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was celebrated by the Rt. Rev. Monsignor John A.Lyons, V.G., of Wilmington, Del.
Father Garritano in 1921 purchased a school building at Third and Parker Streets for a parish school. This was blessed and placed in charge of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. He was transferred, 26 May 1926, to the pastorate of St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi in Philadelphia.
He was succeeded by the present beloved rector, Rev. John M. Zazzara. During his incumbency, Father Zazzara has labored for the spiritual good of his people, while by no means neglecting the care and upkeep and repair of the various parish buildings.
In 1938 (Sunday, 18 Sept.) St. Anthony's parish joyously and solemnly celebrated its Silver Jubilee. We quote the Souvenir Book prepared for that occasion. "ln commemoration of its Silver Jubilee, it was thought fitting that the House of God be made a more fitting abode for the Divine Dweller. Therefore, the entire church was renovated and painted: new flooring was laid, and the altars were re-decorated in gold and marbleized in onyx. The angels on either side of the main altar were
* * * *
repainted, and statues of the Sacred Heart and of Our Lady, with pedestals, were newly installed. Through the kindness of some of our benefactors, it was made possible to install a very unique and artistic wrought iron altar railing. in harmony with the interior, the approach to the Church was made more attractive by adding a touch of nature. . . . The final service (Solemn Mass) was held at 11 o'clock with the Rev. Joseph M. O'Hara, Ph.D., pastor of St. Michael's Church, this city, as the Celebrant; Rev. Daniel Hurley, Prior of Archmere Academy, Claymont, Del., was deacon and Rev. Domenico Manzocco, Chaplain of the Orphanage at Concordville, was subdeacon. Rev. James H. Mahoney was Master of Ceremonies, assisted by Mr. Anthony Della Monica. Rev. John M. Zazzara, pastor of the church, preached the sermon in Italian, and the sermon in English was preached by Rev. Thomas E. Sirnons, assistant rector of St. Cyril's Church, East Lansdowne, and former assistant of St. Anthony's."
Father Simons has since been transferred to the important post of Chaplain of the Eastern State Penitentiary, while Father Mahoney has entered the service of our beloved country as
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Army Chaplain, the only Chester priest thus far to do so. Both these priests are greatly beloved in Chester.
On May 24, 1942 Father Zazzara celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his priesthood amidst throngs of friends and well wishers of both the clergy and the laity, of non-Catholics as well as those of the household of the Faith. A testi-monial dinner was tendered him at the beautiful and spacious Columbus Hall. The present rector of St. Michael's was asked to make an address on the happy occasion and to bring the felicitations of Old St. Michael's to a daughter parish.
Father Zazzara is at present assisted by the Rev. Francis G. Gallagher. Rev. Joseph M.
Gleason, professor at the St. James Catholic High School, this city, is in residence.
St. Robert's Church
This daughter parish of Old St. Michael's was
founded by His Eminence, Dennis Cardinal
Dougherty, 10 June 1922. The Rev. Robert J.
Thompson, then a curate at the Church of the
Transfiguration of Our Lord, 5 5th St. and Cedar Ave., Philadelphia, was appointed pastor.
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Father Thompson's pastorate was destined to last for eleven years. At first he lived at St. Michael's Rectory and all baptisms and marriages were conferred in St. Michael's Church. Later he obtained a dwelling house at 19th St. and Providence Avenue to serve as a Rectory. Here the weekday Masses were said, while the Sunday and Holyday Masses were, through the courteous kindness of its members, celebrated in the Assembly Room of the Good Will Fire Company on Providence Avenue.
Not long after the founding of the new parish a plot of ground was generously given by John and Peter Nolan to contain the parish buildings. Father Thompson did not delay in the erection of a combined school and chapel. Indeed so speedily was the work carried on that the cornerstone of the new edifice was laid on Sunday, 2 June 1924 by the Rt. Rev. Monsignor Joseph A. Whitaker, Chancellor of the Archdiocese. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Joseph M. O'Hara, Ph.D., Superin-tendent of Schools.
The school was blessed by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Michael J. Crane, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, on Sunday 19 October, 1924. After the blessing, Solemn
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Mass was celebrated by Father O'Hara. The deacon was the Rev. Thomas J. McKay, D.D. (died 15 May, 1940), the subdeacon, Rev. Austin C. Grady. The Rev. James V. Mulhearn, then a curate at St. Robert's, was Master of Ceremonies. " on Sunday, June 4, 1933, the parish was literally stunned when, at all the Masses, Father Thompson's letter was read, announcing his resignation as pastor of St. Robert's Church. No intimation of this sudden action had been given other than the general knowledge that for the last two years his health was failing and that the present state of affairs was seriously impairing his condition. Needless to say, his departure was a cause of deep regret throughout the parish." (History of St. Robert's Parish.)
Father Thompson was succeeded by the present beloved rector, Rev. James V. Mulhearn who was already well and favorably known to the people of Chester. Father Mulhearn began the administration of St. Robert's with zeal and discretion, with a thought, first of all, for the spiritual progress of the people and, then, the necessary upkeep and expansion of the parish ternporalities. In 1940 the Archdiocese purchased St. Robert's school to serve, after extensive alterations and repairs,
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as a high school for boys. This enabled the pastor to proceed with the building of a church, a school and a parish hail, after having acquired the Blakely property at 20th St. and Providence Avenue.
On Sunday, 13 October 1940, the cornerstones of the new buildings were placed by the Right Rev. Monsignor J. Carroll McCormick, D.D., Chancellor of the Archdiocese. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Joseph M. O'Hara, Ph.D. The Rev. Joseph M. Corr acted as Master of Ceremonies. The church was dedicated on Sunday 18 May, 1941 by His Excellency, Bishop Lamb, who also pontificated. The sermon was preached by His Excellency, the Most Rev. Peter L. Ireton, D.D., Coadjutor Bishop and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Richmond, Va.
Father Mulhearn is ably assisted by the Rev. Martin McDonough. The Rev. Francis P. O'Reilly, Professor at the St. James High School, is in residence.
On 13 June, 1942 the people of St. Robert's Parish and his many friends, clerical and lay, in Chester and elsewhere, were saddened by the announcement of the sudden death of the Rev. Joseph T. Rhodes. Father Rhodes had been
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assistant pastor of St. Robert's for six years, some of them very busy years. His deep knowledge of music enabled him to act as parochial director of music. His genial, cultured manner endeared him to all who knew him. He was buried in the New Cathedral Cemetery in Philadelphia, his native city. Father Rhodes was born in 1903. He was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood 2 June, 1928.
Our Lady of Vilna
For the Lithuanian Catholics of Chester and its surroundings a property was purchased in 1924 at Fourth and Madison Streets. This building has been altered to serve as a church. The present beloved rector is the Rev. A. M. Pauksta.
Holy Ghost Parish
There is also in Chester a parish that is a member of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Diocese, under His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop Constantine Bohachevsky, D.D. The church and school are located on West Third Street. The present beloved rector is the Rev. Bartholomew Hryhorchuk Ostash.
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© 2001 John A. Bullock III.
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