Mary, Mother of Hope 60th Anniversary


60th Anniversary History of St. Mary's Church


The History of St. Mary's Church - 60th Anniversary

A small number of Catholics settled on farms in the vicinity of New Castle at an early date in its history, about the year 1831, for the Records of that time show us that Priests from Pittsburgh began to visit New Castle to administer to the spiritual wants of the few scattered families residing in this viscinity. A Mr. Doran appears to have been the pioneer member of the Faith in the County. He died and was buried near New Bedford in the year 1810. Nicholas Brian, who came to America with Gen. Lafayette, a Catholic and fought under his command during the Revolutionary War, selected the neighborhood of Mt. Jackson as his home after the cessation of hostilities, and was wont later to attend Mass at the house of James Mooney, who lived about a mile north of Mt. Jackson, whenever a Catholic Priest favored them a visit.

In 1852, a Father Reid built a frame Church, about 40 feet in lenth by 20 feet in height, on the side of the river west of the Town, and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin. The contractor and builder of said Church was the father of the present Mr. Stritmater of this City.  Father Reid was succeeded by the Rev. Peter M'Garvey in 1854, who became the first resident Pastor, offering up the Holy Sacrifice alternately at that place and at New Bedford.

In June, 1855, Father Garvey was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas O'Farrell, who ministered to the Congregation and Missions until August, 1859, when he gave place to the Rev. John C. Farren. Upon his withdrawing in May, 1862, the Congregation was visited monthly for a year by the Rev. Thomas Walsh of Brady's Bend, Armstrong County. Rev. James Canevin, the uncle of our present Bishop, then became Pastor, and during his residence the Iron Trade of the Town began to assume its present proportions, and to draw thither a large number of Catholics, principally Irish who sought employment. The Church was no longer capable of accommodating them, nor could it be sufficiently enlarged.

Desiring a more suitable locality, Father Canevin purchased a large lot in the older part of the Town, corner of Beaver and North Streets, from the Crawford estate, for $4,000, and began the erection of a $15,000 Church.

The Corner Stone of this Church was laid July Fourth, 1866, but the Church was not finished for 5 years. The Congregation was now large and increasing rapidly. Father Hayes succeeded Father Canevin. In April, 1871, Father Hayes opened a School in a rented room under the direction of a lay Teacher, and in May purchased a large frame building across the street from the Church for a Pastoral Residence at the cost of $5,500; previous to that time the Pastor had occupied a rented house.

The Church was finished the same year and dedicated by the Bishop, Sept. 17. It is built, 110 feet in length and 45 feet in width; it has a well proportioned tower in teh center in front and follows the 
Gothic style of architecture with some modifications. There are no columns in the interior, but the ceiling is groined over the windows and rises moderaately from the side walls towards the center, at which point it reaches the height of 33 feet from the floor. There are three Altars, a large Gallery and Stained Glass Windows.

Soon after the completion of the Church the Congregation was in the zenith of prosperity and contained perhaps four hundred families, besides many single men employed in the Manufactories. There was also at this time a considerable number of Germans. An Assistant Pastor became neccessary and was first appointed in 1873. But the panic of the same year bore heavily on New Castle, and the Iron Works after struggling against it for a time, either entirely suspended or greatly reduced the number of hands employed. This was especially trying for a Congregation which had purchased sixty acres of land in Union Township, about a mile from the Town, in May of that year, part of which was to be disposed of in lots to members of the Congregation according to an agreement the conditions of which they were now unable to fulfill.

A new and larger School House was also needed and after some necessaay delay was built in 1876. It is one of the most substantial buildings and best-arranged School Houses in the Diocese and is 60 feet in length by 35 feet in width and three stories high. The first, second and third floors are each divided into Class Rooms. The Schools were placed under the direction of the Sisters of St. Joseph, formerly of Edensburg but now of Baden, PA., in September 1875. Their Convent adjoins the Pastoral Residence on North and Beaver Streets.

The Congregation was for a time greatly reduced in number, but thanks to Providence did not remain so. It revived with the revival of the Iron Trade in New Castleand is now on the road to success. Father Hayes was successed, February 8, 1879 by the Rev. Joseph Gallagher, whose untiring zeal and labors made St. Mary's Congregation of New Castle what it is today, one of the best and most properous in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

To Father Gallagher the great success of St. Mary's Congregation is due. For when Father Gallagher assumed his charge he found the financial condition of the Congregation in a most deplorable state.  The Cemetery property had been disposed of by the Sheriff. The household goods of the Pastoral Residence had been offered at public sale. The Church Property was mortgaged almost to its full value. Some of the improvements were paid for by loans bearing a high rate of interest. Undismayed by these surroundings the new Pastor began the task of rescuing the Parish from its financial embarassment. Aided by a generous cooperation of his people and the kind encouragment given him by his non- Catholic friends, after years of toil he succeeded in placing the credit of the Parish on a higher basis than it had previously occupied.

St. Mary's Congregation consisted of one thousand Souls when Father Gallagher was appointed Pastor. Today it numbers about three thousand, even since the adjoining Parish of Mahoningtown has been cut from it.  It has one resident Pastor and two Assistants, and everybody is looking forward with pleasing anticipation to the time when a magnificent Church edifice shall ornament the beautiful Church lot on Beaver and North Streets. Father Gallagher died on August 11, 1906 and was succeeded by its present Pastor, Rev. Florence O'Shea, November 15, the same year.

Our Late Bishop, Rt. Rev. Richard Phelan.
Rt. Rev. Richard Phelan was born in Ballyragget, County Kilkenny, Ireland, January 1, 1828. He recived his elementary education from the best instructors of that time, and at an early age entered St. Kiernan's College , Kilkenny, Ireland. In 1849 he arrived in this Country and resumed his studies at St. Michael's Seminary, Glenwood, Pa., and afterwards at St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore.  
He was ordained in the Chapel of the Episcopal Residence at Pittsburgh May 4, 1854, by Bishop O'Connor. His first Mission was at Camerons Bottom; for a short while afterwards he was stationed as Assistant at St. Paul's Cathedral and then sent to Freeport, Kittanning and smaller Missions. In 1868 he was appointed Pastor of St. Peter's Church, Allegheny, where he remained 23 years. He was Vicar-General of the Diocese during the administrations of Rt. Revs. Domenec and Tuigg, and was called to the Episcopacy August 2, 1885, as Coadjutor to Bishop Tuigg, and on December 7, 1889 became Bishop of Pittsburg. He died December 21, 1904.

During his successful administration, the Pittsburgh Diocese saw a period of Missionary activity and growth, becoming almost what it is to-day -- one of the most enterprising Diocesses in the Church.  

Our Present Bishop, Rt. Rev. John Francis Regis Canevin

Rt. Rev. John Francis Regis Canevin was born in Westmoreland County, Pa., June 5, 1853.  He spent his early youth at St. Xavier's, Beatty Pa., and also in our own old New Castle, for his uncle was one of the Pastors of this place. He was educated at St. Vincent College and Seminary, Beatty, Pa, and was ordained a Priest at St. Paul's Cathedral, Pittsburgh, Jan. 4, 1879.  His first appointment was as Assistant at St. Mary's, Forty-Sixth Street, Lawrenceville, where he remained two years. Then he was assigned as an Assistant at the Cathedral August 1, 1881, where he remained five years.

In 1886 hewas given charge of St. Paul's Orphan Asylum, State Reformatory at Morganza, Western Penitentiary, together with the Mission at Cannonsburg. June 1891, he was appointed Chancellor of the Diocese, 1893 Pastor of St. Philip's, Crafton, when he returned as Pastor of the Cathedral in March, 1895. This good Priest was consecrated Coadjutor-Bishop of Pittsburgh by the Most Rev. Patrick J. Ryan, Archbishop of Philadelphia, February 24, 1903, and became Bishop of Pittsburgh at the death of Bishop Phelan, December 21, 1904.

Our Late Pastor

Rev. Joseph Gallagher was born January 3, 1844, in Donnegal, Ireland.  In the early part of 1849 he came to America with his parents, who selected the City of Philadelphia, Pa., as the place of their future home in the New World. He received his early education at St. Joseph's College, then a renowned institution of that city.

Aspiring to the priesthood his parents in 1861 sent him to St. John's University, Frederick City, Md, to begin his ecclesiastical studies, under the guidance of the Jesuit Fathers.

In 1864 the late Civil War assumed gigantic proportions. Frederick City and vicinity became the scene of active strife between the two Armies. Three different times did the confederate Flag float over the City, and three times was the City reclaimed by the Union Troops. In one of these engagements, at Frederick Junction, over seven hundred were left wounded on the Battle Field, uncared for and without nurses, as all communication had been cut off with Baltimore and Washington.  In this emergency Mr. Gallagher and the other advanced Students volunteered their services to care for the sick and wounded, until aid should come from the East and North. For weeks, day and night, these young men labored with heroic zeal, administering to the wants of the wounded, nor would they accept ant remuneration for their services.

In their efforts to alleviate the suffering of others they overlooked their powers of endurance, impaired their health, and not a one contracted a lingering illness which necessitated an interruption of their studies.

Father Gallagher was one of the number. By the advice of a physician he returned to his home in Philadelphia for rest and medical treatment.  After a brief interval, his health having improved, the President of St. Joseph's College offered him a position as Teacher of Classics, which he accepted and filled with success to the entire satisfaction of the faculty of that institution for two years.

He then resumed his theological studies at St. Michael's Seminary, Pittsburgh, and was ordained a Priest by Rt. Rev. M. Domenec, D. D., Bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese, January 11, 1973.

His first Mission was at Altoona as an Assistant to Very Rev. John Tuigg, then the beloved Pastor of St. John's Congregation, afterwards Bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese. His next appointment was to the Pastorate of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Dudley, Huntingdon County, PA. Here he labored with success for over two years.

On the 6th day of February, 1879, he was appointed Pastor of St. Mary's Congregation, New Castle, Pa., a position he ably filled until his death, which occurred August 11, 1906.

Our Present Pastors

Rev. Florence O'SheaRev. Florence O'Shea, was born in Killarney, Ireland, in 1863. In early boyhood he came to this Country, where he received his primary education. He entered St. Bonaventure's College, Allegany, N.Y., in 1884, to study for the Priesthood. He was ordained by Rt. Rev. Stephen Vincent Ryan, Bishop of Buffalo, for this Diocese, 1889.
From the time of his ordination to May, 1892, he was Assistant at St. Peter's, Allegheny, whence he went to become Pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Huntington, Pa. In the fall of 1892 he was transferred to St. James' Church, Sewickly, Pa., wherehe labored most successfully for
more than fourteen years.

On October 31, 1907 he was appointed Rector of St. Mary's Parish, New Castle, where he took charge on November 15, the same year.

Our First Assistant, Rev. Philip Brandy, was born in Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland, October 31, 1875, and received his early education at the Parish School of that place. Aspiring to the Priesthood he first entered St. Mel's College, Longford, and afterwards All Hollows College, Dublin. Then in the year 1898 he came to this Country and continued his studies at St. Vincent's Seminary, Beatty, Pa., and was ordained ny Bishop Phelan March 24, 1901.
His first appointment was as Assistant at St. Francis Xavier's, Allegheny, spent nine months there and then was assigned here January 19, 1902.

Our Second Assistant, Rev. Patrick E. Maher, was born in Pittsburgh September 13, 1879. His early education was obtained at St. John's and St, Mary's Parochial Schools of that City. He entered the Pittsburgh College of the Holy Ghost, where he completed his classical course in June 1900.  Afterwards he went to St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Md., where he remained three years and was ordained by his Eminence Cardinal Gibbons June 16, 1903.

His first assignment was as Assistant at St. Agnes', Pittsburgh, then St. Thomas', Braddock, and finally he was assigned here as Second Assistant January 19, 1907.

Rev.Patrick F. Quinn was born in Balnia, County Mayo, Ireland, in the year 1865, and received his early education in the public schools in thiscountry.  He entered St. Bonaventure's College in 1882 to study for the priesthood, and was ordained by Rt. Rev. Leo Haid, O.S.B., in 1892. 

His first assignment was Fayetteville, N.C., with surrounding missions, where he successfully labored for about twelve years. He aftewards came to this diocese and labored in St. Patrick's and Annunciation parishes until January 20 of this year, when he was assigned to the new parish of Mahoningtown, recently cut off from this parish.      

Our grade school work consists of all primary grades together with a 
complete course of stenography, typewriting, bookkeeping, and two years of Latin.  We have at present about 500 children on our attendance roll.