Excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia..  WEBSITE 
Diocese of Brooklyn

     ...We have no positive evidence that any considerable body 
     of Catholics became a component part of Brooklyn's local life 
     till after the dawn of the nineteenth century and 
     especially after the location there of the Navy Yard in 1801. 

     This government station at once gave employment to many 
     mechanics in the various trades connected with the ship-building 
     industry. Soon a number of Irish immigrants, mostly 
     from the Catholic sections of the North, especially from 
     Derry and Donegal, sturdy confessors of the faith in 
     their native land, settled in Brooklyn. 

     Among these were the parents of the first American cardinal 
     John McCloskey, Archbishop of New York, and of his namesake 
     the first Rector of the American College at Rome, 
     William George McCloskey, afterwards Bishop of Louisville, Kentucky. 
     Until 1822 these Catholics had to cross the East River 
     to New York to hear Mass and attend to their spiritual 
     necessities, as the scarcity of priests and their own 
     poverty brought about this inconvenient situation. 
     Occasionally a priest would go over from New York to 
     say Mass and preach in private houses, or wherever suitable 
     accommodation could be obtained. 

     The pioneer in this was the Augustinian missionary 
     Father Philip Larissy, who said the first Mass in the house of 
     William Purcell at the north-east corner of York and Gold Streets 
     on a date now unknown. The little colony, constantly growing in 
     numbers and influence, desired a church of its own, 
     and hence a meeting was held on the 7th of January, 1822,
     at the house of William Purcell, at which a 
     committee of five was named to wait on Bishop Connolly 
     of New York and ask his advice and consent for the 
     organization of a congregation. It is notable that 
     in the circular calling this meeting the reasons 
     stated are: "In the first place we want our children 
     instructed in the principles of our holy religion; 
     we want more convenience of hearing the word of God 
     ourselves. In fact, we want a church, a pastor, and a place 
     for interment." Those prominent in the pioneer work of 
     the congregation were 
Peter Turner,
George S. Wise, 
William Purcell, then a purser in the United States Navy 
John Kenney, 
Nicholas Stafford, 
Denis Cosgrove, 
Jeremiah Mahoney,      
James Rose, 
George McCloskey, 
James and Patrick Freel, 
Dr. Andrew B. Cook, also of the United States Navy, 
James Furey,
Thomas Young, 
Hugh and James McLaughlin, 
Andrew Parmentier, 
James Harper, 
Quintin M. Sullivan, and Daniel Dempsey. 

     As a result of this meeting eight lots were purchased 
     on Jay Street, and St. James's, the first Catholic 
     church on Long Island was built and dedicated to 
     Divine worship by Bishop Connolly, 28 August, 1823. 

     The lots about the church were used as a graveyard until 1849, 
     when Holy Cross Cemetery, Flatbush, was opened. 

     The original church building stood until 1903, 
     when its walls were enclosed in a new structure built 
     on the same site for a pro-cathedral. The Reverend 
     Dr. John Power of St. Peter's New York, was the early 
     and stanch friend of the new congregation. He used to 
     cross the river frequently to minister to them. Other 
     priests of the pioneer days were the Reverends Patrick Bulger, 
     James McKenna, and James Doherty; the last two died 
     in the service of the parish, and were buried in front 
     of the church. The first regular pastor was the 
     Reverend John Farnan, who was appointed in April 1825. 

     The second church in Brooklyn, St. Paul's dedicated 21 
     January, 1838, was built on land given by Cornelius Heeney. 
     He first offered the site for a seminary, but could not 
     agree with Bishop Dubois as to the manner in which the 
     title should be held, the old and troublesome idea of 
     lay trusteeship proving an obstacle. It is notable that 
     although the organization of the first congregation in 
     Brooklyn was due mainly to lay effort there was never 
     any of the subsequent difficulty over trustee authority 
     and rights that made so much scandal elsewhere during this era. 

     The Reverend Nicholas O'Donnell, O.S.A. (1840-7); 
     was the second pastor of St. Paul's, and after him the 
     Reverend Joseph Schneller, until his death in 1860, had 
     charge there. Father Schneller was one of the most active 
     priests in the New York controversies of the early years 
     of the nineteenth century. His name, with those of the 
     Reverend Dr. Power, Fathers Felix Varela and Thomas C. Levins, 
     is to be found in most of the bitter public contests 
     waged with non-Catholic assailants of the Church. 
     He helped to found and edited for some time the 
     "New York Weekly Register and Catholic Diary", 
     established in 1833. Cornelius Heeney did not limit 
     his generosity to the site for St. Paul's Church and 
     the Girls' Industrial School that adjoins it. 
     During his life his income was mainly devoted to charity
     and 10 May, 1845, three years before his death, he had his 
     estate legally incorporated as the Brooklyn Benevolent Society, 
     and its officials directed to expend its yearly 
     income for the benefit of the poor and orphans. 
     This amounts now to about $25,000 annually, and the total 
     expended by this charity since Mr. Heeney's death is more 
     than a million dollars. In 1841 another famous priest, 
     the Very Reverend John Raffeiner, a native of the 
     Austrian Tyrol, bought with his own money property
     on which was erected the church of the Most Holy Trinity 
     and began there to minister to a colony of German Catholics. 
     His efforts in this direction were extended to similar 
     congregations in New York, Boston, and New Jersey. 
     He labored thus for more than twenty years and held the 
     office of vicar-general when he died, in 1861. 

     St. Charles Borromeo's parish was founded in 1849 
     by the Reverend Dr. Charles Constantine Pise, also 
     one of the strong writers and publicists of that time. 
     Before going to Brooklyn he had been stationed at 
     St.Peter's, New York, and previous to that, in 1832, 
     while officiating in Washington, he was, on motion of 
     Senator Henry Clay, appointed Chaplain to the 
     Congress of the United States and served during a session 
     the only instance on record of such an honor being 
     given to a Catholic. Other priests whose earnest work in its 
     formative period contributed to the building up of the 
     Church in Long Island were the Reverends John Walsh 
     James McDonough, Richard Waters, James O'Donnell 
     David W. Bacon, afterwards the first Bishop of Portland Maine, 
     the Reverends Michael Curran, William Keegan for many years 
     Vicar-General of the diocese, and his associate in that office, 
     the Right Reverend Mgr. Michael May, the Reverends Nicholas 
     Balleis,O.S.B. Eugene Cassidy, Sylvester Malone, Peter McLoughlin 
     John Shanahan, Edward Corcoran, Hugh McGuire, Jeremiah Crowley 
     James McEnroe, Joseph FransioliMartin Carroll, T. O'Farrell,
     Anthony Arnold, John McCarthy, James O'Beirne Joseph Brunneman, 
     Anthony Farley, John McKenna Patrick O'Neil, and James H. Mitchell. 
     Father Mitchell was much interested in the work of societies 
     for young men, and his administration as head of the 
     national organization was specially successful. 

     When, in July, 1841, Father Raffeiner began the great 
     German parish of the Most Holy Trinity on a part of the 
     farm of the old Dutch Meserole family, this was known 
     as the Bushwick section of the then town of Williamsburg 
     which was subsequently annexed to Brooklyn. The first German 
     Catholic Church in the city of Brooklyn was the quaint little 
     St. Francis'-in-the-Fields, which Father Raffeiner opened in 
     1850 at Putnam and Bedford avenues. Its title indicates 
     its rural environment, and Father Maurus Ramsauer, 
     a Benedictine just arrived from Germany, was made its first 
     pastor. In 1855, under Father Bonaventure Keller, the original 
     design of Father Raffeiner was carried out, and a sort 
     of preparatory seminary for German ecclesiastical 
     students was begun and lasted there for two years. 
     When Father Raffeiner died in 1861, he left St. Francis', 
     which was still surrounded by a garden, for the benefit 
     of the orphans of the Holy Trinity parish. The little church 
     was then closed, owing to changes in the neighborhood, 
     and was not reopened until 1866, when the Rev. Nicholas Balleis
     a Benedictine took charge and remained there until his death 
     13 December, 1891. The old building was again closed and 
     remained so until the property was purchased by the 
     Sisters of the Precious Blood in 1892, when the structure 
     was torn down, and the convent of that order built on the site... 

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