Saint Patrick’s Parish

Kent and Willoughby Avenues in Brooklyn’s 7th Ward.  

Founded in the 1840s, it is one of the oldest parishes in the Roman Catholic 
Diocese of Brooklyn.   

A parish history was prepared in 1897 as part of the 25th Anniversary
celebration for its pastor, Rev. Thomas Taaffe.  Extracts from that
history are quoted below.  Additional information was found in the parish
registers and the New York State Census of 1855. 

"Back in the early forties there was an old public roadhouse on the
Newtown Road, now flushing Ave, kept by a Mrs. Mackey, an Irish Catholic.
 In the coffee-room of this tavern the need of a Catholic church in the
growing district of the Wallabout was frequently discussed.  Encouraged
by the splendid results which had followed the erection of the Church of
St Mary's in the neighboring village of Williamsburgh, the Catholics of
the Wallabout section resolved to have a place of Divine worship of their
"At that time there stood an old Methodist Church on Kent Ave., near
Myrtle.  Negotiations were entered into and the Church with two lots was
finally purchased by the Catholics for three thousand dollars.  This was
the humble beginning of what is now one of the largest and best equipped
parishes in the city.   

In 1843 Bishop Hughes appointed the first pastor, the Reverend Hugh
Maguire.  The construction of the present church began in 1848, and was
dedicated on August 17th, 1856 by Bishop McLoughlin.   
Parish Registers and Statistics
On June 22, 1845 Father Hugh Maguire recorded the first baptism in parish
register:  Ann, daughter of William Nash and Allice Brady.  Her sponsors
were Thomas Nash and Ann Brady.   

Between June, 1845 and April, 1885 more than 12,000 entries were made in
the Baptismal register. The peak years of 1867 - 1873 averaged 484
baptisms per year in that seven-year period. 

On August 8, 1845 the marriage of Thomas Rath and Bridget McCleary was
recorded as the first entry in the Marriage register.   The witnesses
were John Mallen and Mary Doherty.  
There were over 900 marriages recorded between 1845 and November, 1861. 

The 1855 New York State Census found that 51.7% of the 12,523 residents
of the 7th ward, which centered on St. Patrick’s, were born in Ireland. 
This was the highest percentage of Irish-born in any ward in either
Brooklyn or Manhattan.
Parish Priests
Between 1845 and 1897 the priests who served at St Patrick’s included: 
Hugh Maguire, 
Henry O’Neil, 
Peter C. Fagan, 
Giovanni Casella, 
Edward G Fitzpatrick
Thomas Taaffe.  
M. Moran, 
J. Conlon, 
F. Lennon,
John McCollum, 
Andrew O’Connell, 
M.S. Boylan, 
Henry Zimmer, 
Wm. Gills, 
M. Goodwin, 
John McCloskey, 
James Bobier, 
James Taaffe, 
E. McGoldrick,
Thomas McCaffrey, 
Peter Donohue, 
Myles O’Reilly, 
Bernard O’Reilly, 
John Finney, 
James Lynch and Thomas McLoughlin.
Parish Schools
In 1863 the Sisters of Mercy opened a Select School for Girls at 273
Willoughby Avenue.  It embraced in its curriculum the elementary and
secondary subjects and maintained an atmosphere of refinement and
spirituality which was carried into the after-life of its pupils.  In
1872 the Sisters agreed to close the select School and help establish the
parish Girl’s School. 
In 1870 the Academy for boys opened under the administration of the
Franciscan Brothers.
Parish Societies 
The founding officers of the St. Vincent de Paul Society [1862] were
Thomas Taaffe, 
James, Carr, 
Wm. Taylor, 
John Savage, and Charles F. Callahan.   

The Young Men’s Literary Union was formed in 1868 for the purpose of
guarding the faith and morals of the youth at the most critical period
of his life.  The officers in 1897 were: 
Thomas Kearns, 
Thomas F. MacAvoy, 
Joseph A. Barton, 
Henry T. Bryan, 
Michael J. Hayes, 
Edward T. Bellew, 
John J. Brennan, 
John Lightline, and Edward P. Heslin.  
   The Boards of Trustees and Directors included 
Rev. Wm. White, D.D., 
Wm. F. Bellew, 
John J. Brennan, 
Thomas F. MacAvoy, 
Charles H. McAuley, 
John A. Nolan, 
Thomas S. Corry, 
Wm. T. Bellew, 
Joseph Luttrell, 
Henry T. Bryan,
Edward P. Heslin, 
Vincent Lafferty, and Michael Hayes. 

The Immaculate Conception Sodality was organized in 1870 to unite the
young ladies of the parish and to protect them from the many dangers to
which the young are exposed.  The 1897 officers were 
Sister M. Ursula,
Miss Anna B. Carroll, 
Miss Katharine Collins, 
Miss Margaret Gibney, and Miss Katharine Flannery. 

St Patrick’s Council was formed in January 1882 to unite fraternally for
social benevolent and intellectual improvement all male Catholics.  
The founding officers were 
Edmund A. Whalen, 
Joseph Murphy, 
F.J. McGowan,
W.H. Geary, 
R.H. Egan, 
Rev. James Lynch, 
J.J. Seaman, 
Vincent Tresham,
George P. Locke, 
Thomas McGuire, 
Patrick McCann, 
Lawrence Seaman, and Robert Hayes. 

In 1897 the officers of the Holy Name Society were 
Matthew J. McKenna,
Charles Callahan, 
Thomas S Corry, 
Michael J. Hayes, and Michael Meade. 

Past presidents were 
Mortimer Hanly, 
John Kerwin, 
Mr. McCaffrey, and James McCabe.

Thanks to: Pat Wood
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