OF SAINT PATRICK PARISH
BEGINNING: The Reverend Demetrius A. Gallitzin,
the pioneer missionary of the Alleghenies, said
Mass in Newry as early as 1789. After Father Gallitzin
established his base of operation at Loretto,
PA., he attended Newry at regular intervals. Loretto,
joined with Bedford and Newry, formed the triangular
base for Catholicity in this region.
first settlers of Newry were Patrick Cassidy and
Henry McConnell, who migrated from Newry, County
Down, Ireland, and laid out the town and called
it Newry, after their native place, about the
same time Father Gallitzin began his laborious
mission at Loretto. It is a matter of public record
that Patrick Cassidy in 1801 deeded property for
a Catholic Church and for a Lutheran Church in
FIRST CHURCH: In 1816, a little stone church was
built in Newry and Father Gallitzin dedicated it
under the title of Saint Patrick. He continued his
personal care of this mission until 1821. Afterward,
Father Gallitzin relinquished the eastern portion
of his vast mission, including Newry, to his protégé,
the Reverend Thomas Heyden, who worked out of Bedford.
Henry Conwell, who came to Philadelphia in 1820,
as Bishop of Philadelphia, came to Newry in 1826
for the official visitation and Confirmation. He
was accompanied by a young Deacon, John Hughes,
the future Archbishop of New York. In 1828, Father
John Hughes, served for a brief period as pastor
of Bedford with a care for the Newry mission.
RESIDENT PASTOR: Bishop Francis P. Kenrick, the
third Bishop of Philadelphia wrote about his first
visit to Newry, under the date of October 21, 1830:
"A church was built here long ago through the
care and generosity of Patrick Cassidy. But the
building is very old and hardly fit for divine worship."
It was on this 1830 visit that Father Heyden sought
permission to build a new church in Newry. He was
chagrined when Episcopal approval was denied. The
reason for the denial became evident August 7, 1831,
when Bishop Kenrick assigned the Reverend John O'Reilly
to Newry as the first resident pastor. Bishop Kenrick
wrote: "The people of Newry are rejoicing because
they are to have a priest, in charge, living in
the town." When Father O'Reilly came to live
in Newry, he immediately began the construction
of the present church.
oldest Newry parish records are dated 1828 and are
signed by Father O'Reilly. The first Baptism recorded
took place February 28, 1828, Mary Jane, child of
Joseph and Eva (Dopp) Nightwine. The total number
of Baptisms celebrated by Father O'Reilly stands
at 460 (40 of them Adult Converts). He also witnessed
66 Marriages from August 10, 1928 to September 9,
1832. Father O'Reilly was transferred to Pittsburgh
before the church building was completed.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend James Bradley served
more than 51 years as Saint Patrick's Pastor. His
first task was the completion of the parish church.
Bishop Kenrick blessed the church on August 11,
1833. This is the church that is still in use today.
There is no doubt that when Father Bradley was in
his prime in the 1840's and 50's, he developed a
vibrant parish. In 1842 he established a lending
library. The library, according to the records,
was well patronized.
was while Father Bradley served as pastor of Newry
that the parish was included in the newly created
Diocese of Pittsburgh, with Michael O'Conner named
as its first Ordinary. Bishop O'Conner paid regular
visits to Newry, in 1851, 1853, and 1855 for Confirmations.
the History of the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Allegheny,
published in 1880, this account of the Newry parish
is given: "When Bishop O'Conner visited the
parish in 1847, it numbered, as he states in his
notes, about 400 souls. The Congregation has continued
for many years, as it will in the future, gradually
to increase. The people are mostly Irish, or of
Irish parentage. They have grown up around their
common father, who has baptized nearly all, and
has watched over them and guided them with a father's
care; and they, in turn, as it is but right, entertain
for him sentiments of filial affection." Father
Bradley died April 13, 1883. He is buried in the
nearby cemetery with the grave marked by an imposing
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend Richard Browne became
the third pastor, serving from 1841 to 1884, when
he was transferred to establish a new parish in
the fast growing coal town of Lilly, PA.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The next pastor of Newry was also
the first native born American to serve. He was
the Reverend Ferdinand Kittell, born in Ebensburg
in 1847. Father Kittell was assigned to Newry in
1884 and he served until 1887. When Father Kittell
assumed charge, there was a slight debt. He carried
out extensive repairs on the church. All this was
paid for and there was a favorable balance of $3.31
in the treasury. Father Kittell was transferred
to Hollidaysburg in 1888.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend James A. Canevin was
Saint Patrick's fifth pastor. He baptized 117 infants
and officiated at 20 marriages. He served as pastor
until June of 1891, when he was appointed Chaplain
of the Sisters of Mercy Academy in Pittsburgh.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend Edward Dunphy held
the briefest tenure, arriving in Newry in May of
1891 and leaving, after being recalled to his home
diocese in Ireland, in March of 1892.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend Thomas Walsh served
as pastor from 1892 until his death on January 6,
1898, in his 70th year and the 45th year of his
THE DIOCESE OF ALTOONA: Between 1880 and 1900, more
than twenty new parishes were established in this
area, mostly in Cambria and Somerset counties. There
was little immediate effect in the vicinity of Newry.
However, due to this increase in population, the
bishops of Pennsylvania at their meeting in Philadelphia
October 1899, proposed a new diocese for this section
of the state. This recommendation was sent to Rome.
announcement came from Rome that on May 27, 1901,
a new diocese was established with five counties:
Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Huntingdon, and Somerset
from the Pittsburgh jurisdiction and three: Centre,
Clinton, and Fulton, taken from Harrisburg. The
cathedral was located in Altoona and the first bishop
was Msgr. Eugene A. Garvey, the Vicar General of
Scranton, PA. (On October 9, 1957, the title of
the diocese was changed to include Johnstown.) Bishop
Garvey served nineteen years and became a familiar
figure in the Newry parish.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend Robert Waters filled
the pastoral post at this point in parish history
that witnessed the fading of the 19th century and
the formation of a new diocese. His first baptism
is recorded October 30, 1897, and his final record
dated November 10, 1902. In 1901, the present rectory
was built, replacing the original that was more
than 80 years old.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend Michael J. Canole
succeeded Father Waters in 1902 and served in this
parish until 1907. There were 95 Families carried
on the parish roster with a total of 450 Souls.
The parish property that included the church, hall
and rectory was insured for $6,000.00. His final
report to Bishop Garvey placed the parish debt at
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend William S. Davies
assumed the duties of pastor on March 10, 1907.
He might well have been called the last of the equestrian
pastors, as he spent considerable time in the saddle
visiting scattered families and making sick calls.
He built the present tower that provides a covered
entrance to the church. He also did work on the
church's interior, including the installation of
new pews. He likewise supervised the construction
of a two-story parish hall to provide a social center
for the people. The parishioners were very supportive
of his building program. There was no debt when
he came and there were none when he left, transferred
to Lock Haven, September 25, 1912.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend Roger S. O"Donnell
came to the parish in 1912 and began a twenty-three
year tenure that was second only to Father Bradley's.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the
parish's first church, a three-day celebration in
which the four living pastors, Fathers Kittell,
Waters, Canole and Davies, all participated. The
outdoors shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected
by the Hoover Family in memory of their parents,
Adam and Mary (McGraw) Hoover. (Later, Father William
Rosensteel supervised the rebuilding of the structure.)
In 1921 a school with a convent attached was built
directly opposite the church and rectory. Eighty-seven
students greeted the Sisters of Mercy from Cresson
who came to staff the school. This construction
left the parish with a modest debt of $11,700.00.
Yet, with general economy in shambles, even the
interest on the debt became an impossible burden.
By 1934, the parish debt had increased to $22,500.00
and the number of parishioners had fallen below
600. In 1935, Father O'Donnell was transferred to
Our Lady of Lourdes, Altoona.
AND THIRTEENTH RESIDENT PASTORS: The Reverend James
Hickey followed in 1935, but, because he was in
poor health he served only two years. He was succeeded
by the Reverend Jeremiah P. Flynn, who filled the
post for twenty years. A fire, in 1944 destroyed
the frame school and convent. Father Flynn was able
to communicate to the parishioners, who responded,
to the rebuilding of the school, convent and hall
that still remains today as a monument to their
dedicated endeavors. It was ready for dedication
by the Most Rev. Bishop Richard T. Guilfoyle, the
third Bishop of Altoona, on January 21, 1945. Father
Flynn remained in Newry until his reassignment in
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend Raymond E. Cupples
came to Newry in 1957 and he filled this post until
his death, January 4, 1972. It was during this time
that the strictly rural character of the parish
area began to change. It slowly assumed a suburban
atmosphere with housing developments offering countryside
amenities to commuters willing to drive increasing
distance to work. Two parishes emerged from Saint
Patrick's: Saint Catherine of Siena in Duncansville,
in 1963 and Saint Thomas More in Roaring Spring
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend Julian K. Benson became
the pastor in June of 1972 and he directed the affairs
of the parish until his death, sixteen years later
in 1988. Within a year of his arrival, a fire broke
out on the second floor of the rectory which was
brought under control quickly. But, the damage ran
between three and four thousand dollars.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend William A. Rosensteel
received the Newry assignment in 1988. Father Rosensteel
did much in the parish, especially in seeing to
the construction of a gymnasium and an enlargement
of the parish school with an addition. This task
was accomplished with the aid of the parish bingo,
numerous fund-raisers, the parish festival and gifts
and bequest. Father Rosensteel remained until his
reassignment to Holy Rosary Parish in 2002.
RESIDENT PASTOR: The Reverend Msgr. Anthony B. Little
was assigned to the parish, July 2002. He remains
in this capacity, as of this date.
OF MERCY: Across the decades the Sisters of Mercy
have been a powerful force in the Newry parish life.
They came through here in 1843 from the Carlow convent
in Ireland, under the leadership of Mother Francis
Xavier Warde. Across the years, ten young women
from the parish dedicated their lives to the service
of the Church by joining the Sisters of Mercy. They
are: Sisters Jane Frances Hite, Rosemary Hite, Benedict
Heiss, Alban Nale, Honora Gonsman, Aileen Flynn,
Charlene Kelly, Jane Kelly, Ruth Neely, and Veronica
PICTURE: The original parish boundaries that encompassed
everything east from Cambria County through Huntingdon
and Centre Counties is now served by 31 other parishes.
Despite the reduction in territory, the parish still
spreads over 40 square miles, embracing the major
part of Blair, Freedom and Juniata Townships. Yet,
the population of the parish has never been higher.
On the parish rolls are the names of 1,225 persons,
divided among 441 households. There is a parish
school with a preschool program and grades from
one to eight.
parish sponsors a wide variety of parish activities
and ministries. There are Readers, Eucharistic Ministers,
Altar Servers, Ushers/Greeters, Adult Choir, and
Saint Patrick Guild. Saint Patrick parish has its
own outdoor fields surrounding the newly built "Justin
Hall," a full-size gymnasium with stage.
Newry parish continues to be a vibrant faith community
and gives evidence of holding fast to the ideals
handed down by those who have gone before them.
This portion of Penn's Woods continues to be especially