|Albany, New York
is not only the capital of New York State, but the nation’s
oldest incorporated city which stands at the crossing of the
historic routes that link Boston with the “Near West” and Montreal
with New York City. St.
Mary’s in Albany was New York State’s second, and upstate New York’s
first Roman Catholic parish. Due
to its close association with Albany since its incorporation in 1796, St.
Mary’s has had a rich and interesting history as one of America’s
oldest Catholic churches and the first cathedral parish of the Catholic
Diocese of Albany.
||St. Isaac Jogues, Jesuit
missionary and prisoner of the Mohawk Iroquois, crept away from his Indian
captors during a visit to the Dutch Fort Orange (Albany).
With the aid of the Dutch colonists he was hidden in a barn which
stood on the spot of our present church.
Escaping by boat to New York City, he returned to his Iroquois and
eventually was killed by the Mohawks on the site of Auriesville, New York.
||One month after St. Isaac
Jogues’ escape, the Iroquois brought to Fort Orange another Jesuit
captive, Fr. Antoine Poncet de la Riviere.
This time the Indians were more careful about their prisoner.
But Fr. Poncet did have the opportunity to administer the Sacrament
of Penance – for the first time on the site of Albany.
He heard the confessions of a merchant from Brussels and a young
man who was on the way to becoming a picturesque frontiersman and explorer
– Pierre Espret Radison.
October 5th 1785
||On this date the corner-stone
of St. Peter’s Church in New York City was placed.
St. Peter’s was not only the first Catholic Church in New York
City but, it was the first permanent Catholic Church building in the whole
George Washington was inaugurated in New York as the First President of
the United States under the federal constitution.
On November 6th, Pope Pius V1 named Fr. John
Carroll founding Bishop of Baltimore.
The Diocese of Baltimore embraced all of New York State and the
whole of the United States as it then existed.
||Albany Area Catholics met to
organize as a congregation. Seeking legal status, they incorporated as “The Roman
Catholic Church in the City of Albany,”
and their certificate of incorporation was recorded on October 13.
The state law by which they secured this status was that of April
6, 1784, which vested full control of church administration in a board of
lay trustees. The first Board
elected for St. Mary’s was Thomas Barry, Louis LaCouteulx,
Daniel McEvers, Terence O’Donnell, James Robicheaux, Jeremiah Driskil,
Michael Begley, William Donovan and Philip Farrel.
(LaCouteulx later moved to Buffalo and became a pioneer
Catholic leader there.)
||Shortly after the
incorporation in 1796 the trustees moved to build a church in Albany.
(Mass had already been offered there occasionally in the homes of Mrs.
Margaret Cassidy and William Duffy.
The celebrant was quite likely a Capuchin priest, namely Fr.
Thomas Flynn, who was doing missionary work between Fort Stanwix –
the future Rome, New York and Albany in the period 1796 – 1804.
||As the plans for building of
the first church of St. Mary’s unfolded, the City Corporation of Albany,
by unanimous vote, made the new congregation the gift of a church lot on
Pine Street, between Barrack and Lodge Streets.
Albany’s Catholics were still few, and most of them were not
prosperous. The trustees had
therefore to look to others for donations such as Protestants at home,
Catholics in other locales. Thomas
Barry even turned to Canada for donations.
Their drive was not completely successful, but most of the costs
were covered. There being no
priest on hand, apparently Thomas Barry laid the cornerstone
on September 13, 1797
Government of the State of New York officially designated Albany as the
In the Fall, St. Mary’s (though not fully completed until 1807)
was opened for use.
It was the second permanent Catholic Church built in New
York State, and it served as the parish church of Upstate New York.
It was the first church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in
post-revolutionary New York State.
original St. Mary’s Church was very modest.
The building was brick and about 50 feet square.
The door opened on Pine Street.
There was no belfry; only a cross on the pyramid roof identified it
as a church. The sanctuary inside was no more than 12 feet square while
galleries ran along the south and west walls.
In the west gallery, there was a small organ donated by Mrs.
Margaret Cassidy. It was
reputed to be the first
organ installed in any
Albany church. Over the main
door was set a marble tablet decorated with a skull and crossbones and
inscribed: “I.H.S. Thomas
Barry, Louis LaCouteulx, Founders.
E.C. Quinn, Master Builder. A.D.
the new St. Mary’s was being built, the missionary rector was the Rev.
He was a former Congregationalist Minister who had been converted
in Italy in 1783, having been impressed by circumstances surrounding the
death of the “Beggar
Saint” St. Benedict Joseph Labre.
Fr. Thayer was ordained in Paris in 1789.
He remained at St. Mary’s only a short time before he was sent by
Bishop Carroll to Boston – before St. Mary’s was opened.
Among the early parishioners were the French Marquis and Marquist de la Tour de Pin.
||President George Washington
died. When the news arrived,
December 23, the City Government ordered that the bells in the city be
tolled for two hours that afternoon.
St. Mary’s could not comply, since it had no bell.
The parish did take part in the memorial service held on the
President’s birthday, February 22, 1800.
On order of Bishop Carroll, the pastor, Fr. Matthew O’Brien,
held a special service at 9:00 am in a crepe-hung church.
At 11:00 am there was a civic parade followed by a service in the
Dutch church and a mass meeting in City Hall.
second pastor of St. Mary’s, Dr. Matthew O’Brien,
after only a short tenure, was transferred by his bishop to St. Peter’s
Church in New York City. Albanians
mourned his departure. He was
one of the ablest of Bishop Carroll’s clergy.
In 1805 he received St. Elizabeth Seton into
the Catholic Church at St. Peter’s.
While in Albany (1797-1800) he had taken his turn with the other
local clergy in offering the opening prayer of the Legislature.
He was a good theologian and excellent preacher, and many of the
Protestant statesmen of the Capital had attended St. Mary’s because they
enjoyed his doctrinal sermons. When
it was rumored in 1797 that the Bishop intended to reassign Dr. O’Brien
to Natchez, Mississippi, the parish trustees protested and won their suit,
but he was finally transferred to New York City.
“Clermont” a pioneer side-wheel steamboat invented by Robert
Fulton, arrived in Albany, completing its first commercial
trip from New York. Albanians
flocked forth to see “Fulton’s Folly” docked not far from St.
Mary’s Church. The voyage
inaugurated a new epoch in Hudson River transportation, and had the remote
effect of bringing more Catholic immigrants through and into the Albany
Pius V11 established the new Diocese of
New York, which included Albany in its jurisdiction.
The first Bishop of New York was an Irish Dominican Father who was
a resident of Italy, Richard Luke Concanon.
Unfortunately, he died in Italy while waiting for transportation to
the United States. His successor did not take over until 1815.
United States declared war on England.
Among Catholic residents of Albany who had reached a degree of
prosperity and prominence was a wholesale grocer, James Maher.
Maher organized the Republican Rifle Company,
or “Irish Greens.”
He was captain and fellow parishioner John Cassidy
was lieutenant. In 1813,
Maher took part in the Battle of Sackets Harbor and
led his troops in the capture of Little York, (now Toronto)
Canada. On his return to
Albany he was hailed as a hero.
of St. Mary’s now numbered over 300, but Catholics made up only
one-twentieth of the Albany population.
Although a few older Catholic families were prosperous, most of the
congregation was composed of poor immigrants, principally Irish.
New upstate parishes breaking off from St. Mary’s were launched
under New York’s second Bishop, John Connolly – St.
John’s, Utica (1819); St. Patrick’s Rochester (1820); Holy
Family, Auburn (1820); St. James, Carthage (1821)
Connolly toured a large part of the up-state district of his
diocese which included a visit to St. Mary’s.
This was his second visit since he first came in 1816 after his
installation in New York.
18th, 19th, 1824
romantic Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution,
stopped off at Albany during his nostalgic tour of the United States.
He visited Albany a second time in 1825, on the weekend of June 11
and 12. Parish tradition at
St. Mary’s says that while in Albany he attended Sunday Mass at St.
Mary’s. However, the ample
press reports of his sojourn in Albany say nothing of his Mass attendance. They record only that on June 12, 1825 he was present at a
service held in the Reverend Doctor Chester’ Second Presbyterian Church.
26th – November 4th 1825
opening of the Erie Canal which brought Albany new
commercial importance. Governor
Clinton and his official party commemorated the event by making a trip
from Buffalo to Albany and New York.
Cannons were fired at each stop on the canal route to announce to
the next port town that the Governor would soon arrive. There were jubilations all along the line.
Alderman John Cassidy of St. Mary’s parish
was involved in planning the observance at Albany; and the Albany clergy
and the St. Patrick’s Society (founded 1807) marched in the City’s
Church of St. Peter’s was established in Troy.
banner year for Catholic education at St. Mary’s.
Sunday school was organized on the strong recommendation of a
devout Protestant woman, Mrs. Margaret Annesley, who consented to
join the Catholic women and volunteer as a teacher.
The first lay superintendent of the Sunday school was French born Peter
Morauge, upholsterer, church trustee, organist and poet (and father of
William, Albany’s “poet laureate”).
The Sunday school worked so well that St. Mary’s soon decided to
start a parochial school.
after the Sunday School became a success, the parishioners asked the Third
Bishop of New York, John Dubois, to enlist nuns to run the school
and take care of the parish orphans.
The Sisters of Charity of Emmitsburg accepted
Bishop Dubois’ invitation and in October of 1828 sent three of
their Sisters to Albany. They
opened a school in a rented building and took in a few orphans to live
with them in their convent.
the second St. Mary’s Church was finished in 1830, the newly
arrived Sisters of Charity moved their classes to its basement.
They taught the girls in half of the room; laymen, James Maloney
and John Flinn, taught the boys in the other half.
After the opening of a separate orphanage in 1832, the Sisters also
began a private school in a section of that building.
The tuition, paid by the parents – Catholic and Protestant helped
pay the expenses of the parochial or “poor school.”
||One of the original group of
nuns, who subsequently, as superior, opened the separate orphanage and the
convent school was Sister Mary DeSales Tyler.
This very capable, religious (who lived until 1899) was a sister of
William Tyler, later the first Bishop of Hartford.
Both were converts to Catholicism and belonged to the Barber-Tyler
clan of New England, whose group conversions to Catholicism attracted
international notice in the early nineteenth century.
cornerstone of the second St. Mary’s Church was laid.
Designer of the new building, which was meant to replace the
overcrowded original church, was Albany’s top-flight architect, Philip
Hooker. An expert in the
Federal Style, he drew plans for a rectangular building, set high, with a
portico of four columns. Walls
and columns were to be of
brick, but the whole exterior was to be covered with stucco.
An ample basement was included as was a three-tiered belfry. The trustees signed the agreement with Albany contractor
Henry Peers on September 15, 1829. Cost
of construction amounted to $12,000.00.
||The new second church was
built on the same site as the old. Thanks
to trustees of nearly Lancaster School, St. Mary’s was permitted to
hold services there while the second church was being built.
Demolition of the original church began on September 14th
. A hill had to be cut away
and Steuben Street had to be opened above Chapel Street.
Men of the parish gladly set to with pick and shovel, under the
direction of a man called “Yankee” White.
A drive for funds brought in gifts from many prominent
non-Catholics, including $100 from the “last Patroon,”
Stephen Van Rensselaer; and $50 from Governor (later United
States President) Martin Van Buren.
new Second Church was open. A
few years later its belfry was provided with a 1300 lb. Bell that cost
$390.00. Perhaps the
construction of the church building had been too rapid, for it was not
long before certain structural weaknesses began to show up.
December 25th of this year, pastor and trustees signed and sent
a letter of greeting to Charles Carrol of Carrolton, as the only Catholic
and the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence.
They had included in the new cornerstone, they said, “their
tribuit (sic) of grateful thanks to a Christian patriot who pledged his
life, his fortune and his sacred honor to secure for his Countrymen the
disinterested enjoyment of Religious and Political Freedom.”
recorded case of cholera was reported in Albany – the dread plague that
was to sweep the nation that summer, and again in 1849 and 1854.
As a transportation center, Albany was especially exposed to
infection. Other immigrants,
who had settled in Albany and lived in the cheapest housing, suffered much
from this epidemic. Fr.
Charles Smith, the Pastor, showed unselfish concern for the stricken.
Remaining at his post when many Albanians were taking flight, he
served the needs of both his own parishioners and those of other faiths.
He also aided Sister M. DeSales in opening a separate
orphanage building to give shelter to the children of cholera victims.
John Nepomucene Neumann (1811 – 1860), an
Austro-Hungarian national lately ordained a priest of the Diocese of New
York, stopped off at Albany enroute to his first assignment in western New
York. (He served in St. Mary
of the Cataract Church in Niagara Falls) and celebrated Mass
at St. Mary’s.
Subsequently, Father Neumann joined the Redemptorist Order, became
its American Superior and then served as fourth Bishop
Rt. Rev. John Dubois, S.S. (1764 – 1842), French-born third
Bishop of New York, came to Albany in July; and on July 6 he confirmed at
St. Mary’s Church around 150 people, some of them adults.
His traveling companion, Rev. Dr. Charles Constantine Pese,
preached at that time on behalf of St. Mary’s New Orphanage.
Fr. Pese was one of the best-known Catholic orators and writers of
the day. In 1832 he had been elected Chaplain of the U.S. Senate –
the first Catholic priest ever chosen for that post.
||St. John’s Parish was
established in Albany. Its
territory cut off from the territory of St. Mary’s.
A second parish was sliced from St. Mary’s in 1843 – St.
successive divisions reflected the growth of the local Catholic
population. (Most of these
Catholics were Irish, but some were German.
The Germans started a parish of their own in 1842 – Holy Cross.)
||Lay trustees of St. Mary’s
parish had their last election, placed their books at the disposal of the
parish and adjourned for good. Earlier that year the Rt. Rev. John Hughes, as fourth Bishop
of New York, had launched a campaign in his diocese against the
continuance of the trustee boards set up according to the Law of 1784. He admitted that theoretically it was good to have laymen
mind the finances so as to give the priests more time for their spiritual
tasks. However, few trustee
boards had taken a fully Catholic view of their roles.
When they first learned of Bishop Hughes’ order, the trustees of
St. Mary’s were of a mind to fight the ruling.
The fact that they finally reconsidered proves that despite their
occasional officiousness, St. Mary’s vestrymen were basically men of
established new upstate dioceses with centers in Albany and Buffalo.
He appointed as First Bishop of Albany the then Coadjutor Bishop of
New York, Rt. Rev. John McCloskey (1810 – 1885).
St. Mary’s was chosen as his
Cathedral Church. Here,
Bishop Hughes installed John McCloskey on September 19, 1847.
Many state officials and justices of the Court of Appeals were in
the congregation. Bishop
Hughes’ installation sermon (according to the “Evening Journal”)
lasted an hour and three quarters!. The
newspaper praised McCloskey for his “great goodness of heart, gentleness
of manner and purity of life.” The
First Bishop of Albany remained in office until 1864, when he was promoted
to Archbishop of New York.
disastrous fire destroyed 600 buildings in Albany with a total loss of
three million dollars. That
same year Albany’s first conference of the St. Vincent DePaul Society
was founded to assist the poor. Influential
in launching this layman’s society was young Fr. Edward Putnam, a
convert, assistant at St. Mary’s. Another active promoter after his ordination in 1850 was Fr.
Edgar Wadhams, also a priest-convert who assisted Bishop McCloskey at
St. Mary’s. A second
Vincentian conference was set up at St. John’s Church in 1852; a third
at the new Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in 1853.
By 1886 the conferences in Albany had distributed $100,000 worth of
clothing and provisions, and their members had made tens of thousands f
visits to homes and prisons.
February 2nd 1848
||The Two Year war with Mexico
was concluded by a peace treaty. It
is likely that there were some parishioners of St. Mary’s in the
regiments recruited around Albany, especially the company organized by
Captain John P. Frisbie, of the First Regiment in 1846.
||Fr. Theobald Mathew, a
Capuchin friar noted in Ireland as a preacher of temperance, visited
Albany in the course of his American tour.
Fr. Mathew’s eloquence moved many to take the pledge against
alcohol. In September 1851,
the Capuchin was back in Albany again.
Long before Fr. Mathew came, however, the Albany Catholics had
their own temperance unions. Fr.
Schneller was a temperance advocate.
He founded a tee-total organization in 1840.
The Hibernian Temperance Association had been founded in 1832 by
his predecessor, Fr. Charles Smith.
|Solemn opening of the new
Church of the Immaculate Conception, which henceforth became the Cathedral
Church of the Diocese of Albany. Archbishop
Hughes of New York preached at the Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop
McCluskey in the presence of the Archbishop of Bogota, Columbia,
the Bishop of Montreal, Canada and three American bishops.
After the opening of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, St.
Mary’s lost its earlier status as Albany’s principal Catholic Church.
October 30th 1853
John Loughlin (1817 – 1891)
was ordained first Bishop of Brooklyn in New York City.
Consecrating prelate was Most Reverend Gaetano Bedini, Papal
Nuncio to Brazil, who had been sent by Pope Pius IX to the
United States to make a tour of inspection.
Bishop Loughlin, named to the See of Brooklyn on July 29th,
had grown up in Albany as a parishioner of ours.
November 13th 1853
came to Albany on November 13th.
He consecrated altars in the new Cathedral, dined with Governor
Horatio Seymour in his home on Elk Street and, quite likely, visited
||The Know-Nothing Movement,
anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic, rose to sudden importance in Albany in
1854. In the municipal
elections of 1855, Albanians gave as many as 3000 votes to the candidates
of the know-Nothing or “American” party. But even though some shrill nativist voices were raised,
Albanians in general showed themselves very tolerant. The prominence of the city’s Irish leaders argued against
the allegations of anti-immigrants. William
Cassidy, a journalist, lawyer Peter Cogger, a manufacturer, John
Tracey and insurrectionalist-historian-physician Dr. Edmund Bailey
O’Callaghan were respected exemplars of Irish assimilation.
All were connected with St. Mary’s parish.
Patrick’s parish was cut off from St. Mary’s.
On May 19, 1859 William Smith O’Brien gave an address in
Albany. Introduced by
Attorney General Tremaine, he declared among other things that while he
had remained neutral on American issues since his arrival, he would
nevertheless not hesitate to criticize the Know-Nothings for they were
guilty of an “innovation upon the Constitution of the United States.”
O’Brien was a Protestant Irish Nationalist who had been exiled by
the British for treason because of his part in the abortive Irish
Revolution of 1848. Many
parishioners of St. Mary’s had chosen to attend the lecture.
Lincoln, slowly enroute to Washington for his March 4th
inauguration, stopped off at Albany.
(It is said that John Wilkes Booth was playing that same evening at
a local theatre.) Addressing
the Legislature in the Capitol, Lincoln declared himself “the humblest
of all individuals that have ever been elevated to the Presidency.”
But he added, “I have a more difficult task to perform than any
one of them.” On April 21st
Lincoln’s “difficult task” began.
the opening of the Civil War, President Lincoln called for 75,000
volunteers. On April 22
Albany’s people gave a great send off to Col. Michael Bryan and
25th Militia. Many
men from our parish, some of them former members of the local Irish
military companies, donned the uniform of the United States.
Of the parish casualties, two were buried from St. Mary’s: James
DeLacey (killed at Antietam) and John McGuire (killed in North
hundred forty girls of St. Mary’s parish celebrated May Day.
At 9:00 am, dressed in white and wearing wreaths and ribbons, they
attended Mass and received Communion.
Then, they crowned the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and listed
to a “beautiful lecture” by their pastor, Fr. Thomas Doran.
After breakfast in the vestry they marched to the home of Bishop
McCloskey to receive his blessing and marched back to the Church.
All along the line of the procession people came to the windows and
doors to watch this sight. “Too
much praise cannot be given to our dear, kind sisters” wrote the
reporter to the New York Freeman’s Journal.
14th 1865 Good
days after the war ended at Appomattox John Booth assassinated Abraham
Lincoln. Fr. Thomas Doran
expressed the sad sentiments of the parishioners.
Parishioner William Cassidy, wrote one of the nation’s best
editorials on Lincoln in his influential Albany newspaper, the Atlas and
Argus. “The day which
commemorates the Crucifixion of the Savior of Man,” he wrote, “ is
henceforth made darkly memorable by a new crime against God and humanity.
The assassin’s blow will rank him in the memory of millions among
the martyrs of liberty.”
||A new and notable pastor
arrives - Fr. Clarence
Walworth (died 1900). A
native of Plattsburg, New York, he grew up in Albany where his father,
Reuben, was Chancellor of the State of New York.
(The last man to hold that now obsolete office).
Of wealthy Yankee and Presbyterian lineage, Clarence graduated from
Union College, practiced law briefly and then became an Episcopalian and
entered General Theological Seminary in New York to study for the
ministry. But in 1845 he and
a number of fellow student entered the Catholic Church.
and another recent convert, Isaac Hecker, enter the Redemptorist
Order. After ordination and
several years as missionaries Pope Pius 1X
dispensed them from their Redemptorist vows in 1858.
Fr Hecker founded the Paulist Fathers, and Fr. Walworth became a
secular priest of the Albany Diocese.
In his very first years at St. Mary’s he arranged for Fr. Hecker
to come up and deliver a lecture on December 30, 1866 for the benefit of
the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
||The cornerstone of
the third St. Mary’s (present structure) was
laid. This time it was a
priest who presided – a former assistant pastor from St. Mary’s and
now the Diocesan Vicar General and later to be the first founding
Bishop of Ogdensburg – Fr. Edgar Wadhams.
Governor Reuben Fenton was also on hand.
new St. Mary’s Church was Fr. Walworth’s great project.
On December 7th 1866 he had reincorporated the parish
under the name “St. Mary’s Church in the
City of Albany.”
Incorporation was granted according to a new law of 1863,
far more favorable to Catholic usage than the old trustee law had
been. The Board of Trustees now comprised the Bishop, Vicar
General, pastor and two lay trustees.
This is still in practice.
our present building Fr. Walworth engaged Charles C. Nichols of Nichols
& Brown, Albany architects, to draw plans for a new structure to
replace, on the same site, Hooker’s crumbling and undersized second St.
Mary’s Church. Once again,
contributions were solicited. Bishop
Conroy gave $1,000 and did John Tracey, the local spirits manufacturer.
The two lay trustees, State Senator Thomas Behan and Thomas Noonan
gave $500 apiece. Protestant
Mayor George Thacher gave $100 a year for three years.
the pews were removed from the old church, a fair was held there which
netted $11,000 for the construction fund.
The basement of the new church was available from February 16,
||“The Luck of Roaring
Camp,” a short story, brought its author, Bret Harte, into prominence as
a writer of western fiction. Old
parishioners of St. Mary’s who read this and his later story, “The
Outcasts of Poker Flat,” probably recalled that the writer’s father,
Professor Henry Harte, a Protestant schoolmaster in Albany, had sung with
St. Mary’s choir at the dedication of the second St. Mary’s in 1830
and on other occasions.
Second Bishop of Albany, Rt.
Rev. John J. Conroy, solemnly dedicated the third and present St.
Mary’s Church. The
altar (now the Altar of Reposition) valued at $3000 was consecrated at the
same time. The new St.
Mary’s was designed in the style of the Romanesque revival. It had cost $100,00 to build.
All Saints Day
this day, St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany opened.
The prime benefactor of the hospital was the estate of a St.
Mary’s parishioner, attorney Peter Cagger.
Mr. Cagger had been killed July 6th
1868 in a carriage accident in Central Park, New York City.
He had earlier spoken of the need for a Catholic hospital in
Albany. His family gave
$10,000 to found one named after Cagger’s
Bishop Conroy was attending the First Vatican Council in Rome, Vicar
General Wadhams dedicated the new marble, “Our Lady’s Altar” in St.
Mary’s. It was the gift of
a parishioner, Dr. Edmund O’Callaghan, historian of New York State.
Mary’s close friend and assistant, Fr. Edgar Wadhams, was
ordained as First Bishop of Ogdensburg.
The chief consecrator was Archbishop McCloskey of New York who
performed the ceremony at Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
Fr. Wadhams had been a fellow student of Fr., Walworth’s for the
Episcopal ministry and had become a Catholic a year after Fr. Walworth, in
the course of that same American “Oxford Movement.”
John McCloskey, then Bishop of Albany, had ordained Wadhams a
priest on January 1st 1850 in St. Mary’s Church.
He was assistant at St. Mary’s until 1852 when named Rector of
the new Albany Cathedral. Fr.
Walworth preached t his consecration.
Pius IX created Archbishop McCloskey “Cardinal Priest of the title of
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.” The
Archbishop sailed to Europe later that year, on September 27th
received from the Pope the cardivalitial – “red hat” and three day
later took formal possession of his titular Roman parish.
He, thus, became the first American prelate elevated to the rank of
Cardinal. The people of St. Mary’s were happy to have Pope Pius honor
a man who had begun his career of residential bishop in their church years
benefit fair opened at St. Mary’s.
According to custom, the promoters of the fair, the Young Men’s
Sodality, issued a tabloid paper called, “Journal of the Fair.”
It contained information about the fair itself, a bit of parish
history, some poems, some witticisms and a number of paid advertisements.
Regarding the fair itself, the Journal announced that there would
be four tables, each supervised by a different parish organization and
offering items for sale. The
Sodality table was to sponsor balloting for the most popular military
guardsman of the parish, the winner to be awarded a handsome dress
sword. The advertisers
for the parish benefit fair were: a glover, William E. Walsh (“dogskin
and flesher” gloves and buffalo robes); a shoe dealer.
James DeVine(Gents French Calf and Kip Boots” at $2.50 a pair);
and a dyer, Mrs. John McDuffie (“Always Dyeing and Yet
Living”). A column labeled
“Humorous” presented such items as the following:
“We admire square men. There
is a man living in town who is so square that he can never get round to
pay his pew rent.”
river excursion of St. Mary’s parishioners.
Each year the Church chartered barges and tugs to convey some 2,500
men, women and children to either Prospect Grove (24 miles away) or Baeren
Island (13 miles away). Dinner
was served there by the parish women.
Music, candy tables, ice cream tables and soft drinks tables were
set up. This annual jaunt
remained popular for the next ten years.
||Grover Cleveland was
inaugurated as the 22nd President of the United States.
For his Secretary of Treasury he chose a native of St. Mary’s and
former altar boy, Daniel Manning.
Manning was a self-made
man who had begun as a reporter on the Albany “Argus” and worked out
from there into Democratic politics.
He was the man chiefly responsible for Cleveland’s receiving the
1884 presidential nomination. Cleveland’s
close victory was due in part to the attack on the Democratic party as the
party of “rum, Romanism and rebellion.”
Cleveland named a Catholic to his cabinet.
As only the fourth Catholic ever to be promoted to cabinet rank,
Manning held this position for two years.
18th, 23rd 1886
||Albany’s Bicentennial as a
city enlists the help of Fr Walworth as a member of its planning
committee. Forty-two bronze
markers were attached to historic Albany buildings including St.
Mary’s. St. Mary’s
celebrated a Military Mass in the church to commemorate this event.
In the capacity congregation sat not only many state and local
officials but some thirty Catholic Mohawk Indians.
The Indians came down the day before and were welcomed with a
military escort and parade. During
the Mass they occupied places of honor in the sanctuary.
In a notable sermon Fr. Walworth traced the story of Albany
Catholicism from the day St. Isaac Jogues was taken captive by the Mohawks
down to the City’s 200th
||The small parish school
appointed Ellen Harden Walworth as Principal of St. Mary’s.
She was succeeded by Miss Annie Moran around 1890.
However, the small school closed some time before 1897.
In July 1897 Fr. Walworth had given a lecture on “School
Education” in the Albany Capitol, and he was awarded an honorary L.L.D.
by the Regents of the University of the State of New York.
||Parishioner Edward A Mahar was
elected Mayor of Albany. He
served two years. In February
of 1892, because of multiplying physical ailments and diminishing vision,
Fr. Walworth asked Bishop McNeirney to name as administrator of the parish
Assistant Pastor Fr. John J. Dillon.
The Bishop consented and gave to Fr. Dillon the title of
retained the nominal rank of Rector.
||St. Mary’s was solemnly
re-opened at the conclusion of a program of remodeling that had extended
over four years. Presiding
was the new and fourth Bishop of Albany, Rt. Rev. Thomas M. A. Burke.
A major phase of the reconstruction had been the building of a bell
tower. It was crowned with a
weather vane – a large statue of St. Gabriel the Archangel
blowing a trumpet as the “Angel of Judgment.”
The idea belonged to Fr. Walworth.
He had seen a similar weather vane on a European church so he
suggested this to Fr. Dillon and paid for it himself.
The installation of electricity gave St. Mary’s the
distinction of being the first church in Albany to enjoy electric lighting.
November 5th, 7th 1897
||St. Mary’s parish centennial
was described as the greatest religious demonstration held thus far in
Albany’s history. On
Friday morning, November 5th, Bishop Burk celebrated a
Pontifical Mass, and in the evening administered the Sacrament of
Confirmation. That evening
there was a splendid parade. Most
of the parish societies were in the march which moved along streets bright
with flags and bunting. Fireworks
greeted the marchers and floats as they passed by the reviewing stand in
front of the Church.
of St. Mary’s
||On Saturday, November 6th
Bishop Burke offered Mass for the deceased of St. Mary’s.
On Sunday Archbishop Martinelli, Apostolic Delegate,
presided. He was accompanied
by Fr. Frederick Rooker (priest of the Albany Diocese who later
served as Bishop of Jaro, Philippine Islands.)
In the evening the preacher was a Jesuit priest, Fr. Henry Van
Rensselaer, Albany native and direct descendant of Kilian Van Rensselaer.
The Archbishop gave the congregation a Papal Blessing.
||The Spanish-American War
officially begins. The United
States flag floated from St. Mary’s belfry from the time the war began.
On July 1st, 6000 American troops under General H.W.
Lawton and A. R. Chaffee conquered El Caney, Cuba defended by 500 Spanish
soldiers. The American forces
won but a 24 year old U.S. officer, who was a parishioner of St. Mary’s
was killed in action. Second Lieutenant Thomas A. Wansboro was first buried in
Cuba. Subsequently, his
body was brought back to Albany and reburied from St. Mary’s on November
10th 1898 in a military funeral that befitted a West Point
||St. Mary’s School was
reactivated with 120 girls and 90 boys, and it opened in the new St.
Mary’s “Centennial Building” across the street from the Church.
The teachers were six School Sisters of Notre Dame.
The Centennial Building was the parish monument to its 100th
birthday which was designed by the firm of Fuller and Wheeler.
Site of the new building was the corner lot on Pine and Lodge
Streets. Bishop Burke laid
the cornerstone on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15th
1898. The hall, which had a capacity of 700, was ready for use in
||A grand civic service was
held at Oddfellow’s Hall in memory of the late pastor of St. Mary’s,
Fr. Clarence Walworth. Fr.
Walworth, blind and an invalid for months, had died on September 19th
1900, and after a funeral
on September 22nd was laid to rest in his family plot in
Saratoga. No more would
Albanians see this silver-haired clerical patron, clad in cassock and
skull cap, walking painfully along Lodge Street.
He had been a man to reckon with in churchly and civic life.
One of his most memorable sermons “The Rights of Labor (1886)”
had evinced his concern about social ethics.
It was he who translated from the German, the words of America’s
most popular Catholic hymn: “Holy God, We Praise
||Alfred E. Smith, newly
elected in New York City to the State Assembly, arrived in Albany to begin
his work as a legislator. An
Assemblyman until 1915, he was elected Governor in 1918.
Nominated Democratic candidate for President of the United States
in 1928 – the first Catholic to run for a major party – he was
defeated by Herbert Hoover. On
October 4th 1944 the former Governor died in New York.
A few weeks later a group of veteran State employees who had known
him gathered at St. Mary’s, along with Mrs. Edith Smith Warner,
the late Governor’s daughter, for a memorial mass for the repose of his
||Sister M. Regis McManus, SSND,
died on this date. She was
Principal of St. Mary’s School since the arrival of the School Sisters
of Notre Dame in 1900. Buried
in St. Agnes Cemetery, Sr. Regis was deeply mourned by the parishioners,
particularly by the school children.
||Pope Benedict XV named Thomas Francis Cusack as the Fifth
Bishop of Albany to succeed the late Bishop Thomas M.A. Burke.
Bishop Cusack had been Auxiliary Bishop of New York.
An apostolic man, he had been director of the Archdiocesan mission
band. Parishioners of St.
Mary’s joined their fellow diocesans in welcoming the new Bishop.
Unfortunately, he died after only three years in office.
States declared war on Germany. Bishop
Cusack pledged the support of all diocesan churches and institutions to
the national effort to “make the world safe for democracy.”
St. Mary’s did its part. At
St. Mary’s School the “Boys Brigade” was established with over 100
young men wearing the U.S. uniform. One
of them, Nicholas Fitzgerald, entered the seminary after the war,
was ordained a priest and subsequently assigned to his home parish.
John Paul O’Brien, a parishioner, was awarded the French
Croix de Guerre for military heroism.
John George Jenkins was killed in action.
XV appointed Bishop Gibbons as the 6th Bishop of
Gibbons grew up in Albany and served on the altar at St. Mary’s. His father was a stone-cutter who worked on the State
Capitol. After his
installation Bishop Gibbons chose St. Mary’s to administer, for the
first time as Bishop, the Sacrament of Confirmation.
He, himself, had been confirmed at St. Mary’s.
Edward Skelly of St. Mary’s parish became the first boy to
receive the sacrament from the new Bishop, Margaret Haggerty was
the first girl.
||Fr. John J. Dillon founded the
Church of St. Philip the Apostle on Sheridan Avenue within the parish
boundaries to serve as a mission of St. Mary’s Church.
In 1931 he opened St. Philip’s school nearby.
Forty children enrolled in the school.
The teachers were three members of the Sister Servants of the Holy
Ghost and Mary Immaculate, a religious community dedicated to the
education of Afro-Americans. At
the outset some criticized Fr. Dillon’s project of St. Philip’s as
“an old man’s dream.” Actually,
the pastor had undertaken it as an apostolic “must”, and it proved to
be of real service to the local Afro-American community for the next three
|On October 29th
1929 the stock market had crashed and a depression followed.
Parishioners of St. Mary’s were no more immune to this tragedy.
It was during the early thirties that the present St. May’s
rectory was constructed and that a permanent school was built at St.
John J. Dillon, who had been in charge of St. Mary’s since 1892 was
called to his reward. Bishop
Gibbons named Fr. Thomas J. Loughlin to succeed the Venerable Fr.
Dillon as pastor.
Pius X11 named
Msgr. William Scully to the post of co-adjucator Bishop of Albany with the
right of succession. On
October 24th Bishop Gibbons consecrated the Bishop-elect in St.
Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. On
November 10th 1954 Bishop Gibbons, now 86 years old, resigned
the Bishopric of Albany. Bishop
Scully automatically succeeded him a Bishop of Albany.
X11 names the Pastor of St. Mary’s, Fr. Thomas Loughlin, as
Domestic Prelate. He,
thus, became the first head of the parish to bear the honorary title of
||Started in Albany, the annual
“Red Mass of the Holy Spirit” was held for members of the legal
profession. Because of its
closeness to office and judiciary buildings, St. Mary’s was the ideal
church for this rite. In the
presence of Bishop Scully and Bishop Maginn, the sermon was preached by Fr.
Joseph Tinnelly, C.M., Dean of St. John’s Law School in Brooklyn. In later yeas Bishop Fulton J. Sheen delivered the
Loughlin, with the
encouragement of Bishop Scully, introduced the Daily Mass League into the
parish. Those who joined the
League pledged to attend daily mass whenever possible.
The noon mass was well attended.
|It was announced that St.
Mary’s and St. Philip’s schools would close the following June.
The basic reason for closing was the decline in the number of
resident parishioners and the further decline foreseen as a result of
projected urban redevelopment. After
the June closing Sr. M. Electa Molz and three other School Sisters
of Notre Dame and the four Sister Servants at St. Philip’s returned to
their Provincial house for reassignments.
Centennial Hall, which housed St. Mary’s was sold to Albany
County in 1964.
Gibbons died in St. Peter’s Hospital.
He was just a few weeks short of his 96th birthday; and
since December 6th 1963 he had been the oldest living Catholic
Bishop in the world. St.
Mary’s was grieved to lose one who had been its parishioner, its altar
boy and its devoted shepherd.