First Newspaper Account of Commencement Exercises at St. John’s College, Brooklyn, 1873

 

St. John’s University during the 1940′s, when it stood in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section. During the mid-1950′s, the main campus was relocated to Jamaica, Queens, where it stands today.

ST. JOHN’S.
Annual Commencement of the College.
LIST OF PREMIUMS.
The Brooklyn Eagle, June 25, 1873

The first annual Commencement of St. John’s College, Brooklyn, at the corner of Lewis and Willoughby avenues, took place last evening, and in all its features bore evidence of the well earned reputation which the faculty of the college have gained among all classes, by their zeal and devotion to the culture of their pupils.

It is little more than three years since the corner stone of this college was laid. The first movement in the work was made, by the consent of Bishop Loughlin, by Father McNamara, an eminent preacher of the order of Catholic missionary priests. Soon after the commencement of the erection of the building Father McNamara was called to Rome and Father Smith, of the same order, took charge of the work. When the first wing of the college was completed it was opened for education, and in a short time was filled with pupils. So rapidly did the accumulation of pupils come that it was found necessary to hurry up the finishing of the remaining portions of the College, and about a year since the centre was finished, leaving one wing still to build. Even with this large increase of space the accommodations are not nearly sufficient for the still increasing number of pupils. The entire block on which the College is located, however, is the property of the College, and there is plenty of room for extension when needed.

The exercises last evening took place in the main hall of the College, which has a seating capacity for about four hundred persons. The hall was beautifully decorated with flags, between which depended baskets of flowers. Over the stage was a large American banner, gracefully folded and embowered in baskets of flowers.

This stained glass window of St. Vincent DePaul (1576-1660) was in the original college chapel in Brooklyn. Today it stands in St. Thomas More Church on the Jamaica campus, erected in 2004.

The exercises commenced shortly before eight o’clock, when Bishop Loughlin, accompanied by Vicar General Father Turner, Rev. Dr. Freel, and Fathers McKenna, Hoffman, Farrelly, O’Reilly, Keegan, Taaffe and a number of other clergymen, took places on the platform prepared for the occasion. Beside them sat the Hon. Thos. Kinsella, Ex-Alderman Bliss and a number of other eminent citizens. In the audience there was a fair representation of the best class of Catholic society, comprising representatives from all portions of the city.

The exercises opened with the singing of a hymn by the pupils, after which Master Robert Connelly delivered a salutatory address. He spoke of the rapid progress of the institution, praised the teachers for their devotion and zeal in their work, and predicted a brilliant future for the college. Masters A. Clarke and G. Fitzpatrick then performed a selection from “The Barber of Seville,” on piano and violin, after which Master Luke Grace delivered a fine essay on “The Crusades.” Master Thomas Ward executed a piano solo in good style, and Master Wilson Durack read an essay on “Irish Eloquence,” which was received with applause. Master H. Ahlers followed with a violin solo, and then Masters G. Fitzpatrick and G. Clarke sang a duet, “Voice from the Waves,” and had a round of applause. Master James Moran read an essay on “Joan of Arc,” in which he pictured forcibly the patriotic heroism of that unfortunate young woman. Master D. Mulligan followed with a violin solo, and the exercises closed with an essay by Master W. Maguire on “Catholicity in America.” This was by all odds the best effort of the evening. The youthful orator started with the landing of Columbus, under the patronage of the Catholic Queen of Spain, painted in glowing terms the labors of the early Catholic missionaries among the Indians, showing how by their zeal and devotion they succeeded in civilizing them wherever they reached, and then made a forcible contrast of their manner of dealing with the Indians to that of the government swindlers and traders of the present day. Had the old Catholic missionaries been allowed to continue their work there would have been no Modoc war, nor any other Indian war, and the lamented General Conby might still be alive. The essayist went on to show the services which Catholics had rendered in the Revolutionary war, and in the later civil war, and claimed that Catholics were not as they claimed to be by a great many people, “aliens to the soil.” He showed the rapid progress which Catholicism had made on this continent during the last fifty years, and predicted a glorious future for the Catholic Church in America.

The premiums for the different classes were then awarded as follows:

THE GOLD MEDAL
for the best position in his classes, awarded to William Maguire, next in merit, James Moran. Donor, Patrick Meade. Maker of the medal, John McRoy.

ELEMENTARY CLASS— Mr. Michael Murray
CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE— Premium, Douglas Scott; Accesserunt, M. Carey, Archibald Scott, Th. Ibert.
READING— Premium, Douglas Scott; Accesserunt, Miles Kehoe, Theod. Ibert, Mich. Carey.
WRITING— Premium, John Meade; Accesserunt, D. Scott, H. Hoeffner, A. True.
SPELLING— Premium, John Meade; Accesserunt, M. Carey, D. Scott, A. Scott.
CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE— First Class, Rev. J.A. Moloney, C.M.— Premium, William Carey; Accesserunt, J. Hussey, J. Meade, W. Meade.
Second Class, Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.— Premium (Presented by T. Donohoe) R. Pyburn; Accesserunt, J. True, C. McDonnell, A. Clarke.
Third Class, Rev. P.M. O’Regan, C.M.— Premium (Presented by Rev. P.J. McCollum) William Maguire; Accesserunt, F. Maguire, R. Connelly, J. Moran.
READING— First Class, Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.—Premium, William Carey; Accesserunt, F. Russell, W. Meade, J. Meade.
Second Class, Mr. B. Driscoll, C.M.— Premium, Frederick Sigrist; Accesserunt, J. Hagerty, John Carroll, M. Cooney.
Third Class, Rev. J.A. Moloney, C.M.— Premium, Thomas Duhigg; Accesserunt, J.T. Burke, W. Bennett, B. Pyburn.
Fourth Class, Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M.— Premium (Presented by John McConvill) William Bastedo; Accesserunt, W. Tierney, J. McLean, C. McMahon.
WRITING— First Class, Rev. J.A. Moloney, C.M.— Premium, George Gill; Accesserunt, Geo. Wilde, P. O’Malley, P.H. Costello.
Second Class, Mr. F. McCarthy, C.M.— Premium, W. Bennett; Accesserunt, M. Cooney, J. Carrell, J. Kiernan.
Third Class, Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M.— Premium, James Wall; Accesserunt, Peter O’Brien, D. Mulligan, W. Kissane.
SPELLING— Mr. M. Murray—Premium, William Carey; Accesserunt, F. Keeley, J. Hagerty, A. Murphy.
SPELLING AND DEFINING— First Class, Mr. B. Driscoll, C.M.— Premium, Daniel McCabe; Accesserunt, J.T. Burke, Peter Smith, Richard Mears.
Second Class, Rev. J.A. Moloney, C.M.— Premium, Thomas Duhigg; Accesserunt, H. Sullivan, L. Malone, A, Clarke.
ENGLISH GRAMMAR— Rev. J.A. Moloney, C.M.— Premium, J.T. Burke; Accesserunt, A. Clarke, N. Daly, W. Carey.
Second Class, Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.— Premium, John True; Accesserunt, C. McDonnell, J. Burke, S. Malone.
Third Class, Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M.— Premium, (Presented by T.W. Hynes) Philip O’Brien; Accesserunt, J. Cunningham, C. Burke, W. Tierney.
RHETORIC— Rev. P.M. O’Regan, C.M.— Premium, (Presented by Daniel McCabe) William Maguire; Accesserunt, W. Durack, J. Moran, L. Grace.
ENGLISH COMPOSITION— First Class, Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.— Premium (Presented by John McConvill) Gregory Fitzpatrick; Accesserunt, J. True, D. Drinen, W. Armstrong.
Second Class, Rev. P.M. O’Regan, C.M.— Premium, (Presented by Daniel McCabe) Wilson Durack; Accesserunt, W. Maguire, J. Moran, L. Grace.
HISTORY— UNITED STATES— Mr. F. McCarthy, C.M.— Premium, Thomas Duhigg; Accesserunt, Richard Pyburn, C. McDonnell, J. Wedemeyer.
ANCIENT HISTORY— Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M.— Premium (Presented by C. Freel), W. Armstrong; Accesserunt, C. Van Schoonhoven, L. Boury, C. Burke.
MODERN HISTORY— Rev. P.M. O’Regan, C.M.— Premium, James Moran; Accesserunt, W. Maguire, L. Grace, W. Durack.
DECLAMATION— First Class, Rev. J.A. Moloney, C.M.— Premium, E. Malloy; Accesserunt, W. Carey, J. Hagerty, Geo. Hussey.
Second Class, Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M.— Premium (Presented by J. McConvill), John True; Accesserunt, Philip O’Brien, W. Tierney, M. Conway.
Third Class, Rev. P.M. O’Regan, C.M.— Premium (Presented by James O’Connell Fabb), Wilson Durack; Accesserunt, W. Maguire, J. Moran, T, Ward.
GEOGRAPHY— First Class, Rev. J.O. Moloney, C.M.— Premium, Andrew Clarke; Accesserunt, J. Hagerty, J.T. Burke, N. Daly.
Second Class, Mr. F. McCarthy, C.M.— Premium, D. McCabe; Accesserunt, W. Kissane, C. Burke, W. Tierney.
ARITHMETIC— First Class, Rev. T.J. O’Leary, C.M.— Premium, Wm. Meade; Accesserunt, J. Hagerty, A. Murphy, Wm. Carey.
Second Class, Mr. B. Driscoll, C.M.— Premium, Charles Tierney; Accesserunt, J. Woods, J. Elwood, J. Deegan.
Third Class, Rev. J.A. Moloney, C.M.— Premium, M. Conway; Accesserunt, L. Boury, D. Mulligan, J. Burke.
Fourth Class, Mr. F.X. McCarthy, C.M.— Premium, (Presented by E. Freel), Geo. Kaupert; Accesserunt, J. Carroll, C. McMahon, Philip O’Brien.
ALGEBRA— First Class, Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.— Premium, Edward Burke; Accesserunt, E. Hogan, L. Grace, R. Connelly.
Second Class, Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M. (Presented by E. Freel), James Moran; Accesserunt, W. Maguire, T. Ward, W. Durack.
GEOMETRY— Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.— Premium (Presented by R. Myhan), E. Burke; Accesserunt, S. Nash, T. Swin, L. Grace.
TRIGONOMETRY— First Class, Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.— Premium, William McGuire.
Second Class, Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.— Premium, T. Ward; Accesserunt, J. Moran, W. Durack, C. Yarrow.
NATURAL PHILOSOPHY— Rev. J.T. O’ Leary, C.M.— Premium, William Maguire; Accesserunt, J. Moran, W. Durack, T. Ward.
BOOKKEEPING— Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M.— Premium (Presented by D. McCabe), Thomas Ward; Accesserunt, James Moran.
LATIN GRAMMAR— First Class, Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.— Premium (Presented by E. O’Keefe), Joseph Carroll; Accesserunt, M. Conway, C. Van Schoonhoven, Pet. O’Brien.
Second Class, Rev. J.T. O’Leary, C.M.— Premium, Philip O’Brien; Accesserunt, J. McLean, W. Brown, C. McMahon.
VIRI ROMAE AND HARKNESS— Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M. Premium, Louis Greats; Accesserunt, E. Burke, J. Armstrong, J. Hogan.
SALLUST AND ARNOLD—Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M.— Premium, George Kaupert; Accesserunt, F. Maguire, F. Maguire, R. Connelly.
LIVY AND ARNOLD— Rev. P.M. O’Regan, C.M.— Premium, William Maguire; Accesserunt, W. Durack, L. Grace, Thos. Ward.
GREEK— Anthon’s Lessons, Rev. T.J. O’Leary, C.M.— Premium, Edward Burke; Accesserunt, F. Maguire, Geo. Kaupert, R. Connelly.
Jacob’s Reader, Rev. P.M. O’Regan, C.M.— Premium, William Maguire; Accesserunt, W. Durack, S. Nash, L. Grace.
GERMAN (Woodbury)— Rev. T.J. O’Leary, C.M.— Premium (Presented by Thomas Carroll), Robert Connelly; Accesserunt, F. Swin, S. Nash.
FRENCH— First Class (Pasquelle), Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M.— Premium, Francis Maguire: Accesserunt, L. Boury, George Kaupert.
Second Class (Noel and Chapeal and Bossuet), Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M.— Premium, Thomas Ward; Accesserunt, L. Grace, W. Durack, W. Maguire, J, Moran.

A native of Lousiana, Father John Theophilus Landry, C.M. (1839-1899) was the first President of the College of St. John the Baptist.

When the presentation of premiums was concluded, Father Landry thanked the audience for their attendance and the interest they had manifested in the proceedings, and then introduced Bishop Loughlin, who briefly congratulated the assemblage on the existence of such an excellent institution of learning among them, and urged them to foster it by all the means in their power. This closed the commencement and the audience dispersed.

The faculty of the College consists of Rev. J.T. Landry, C.M., Principal, Rev. P.M. O’Regan, C.M.; Rev. J.A. Maloney, C.M.; Rev. P.V. Byrne, C.M.; M.B. Driscoll, M.F. McCarthy, Rev. J.T. O’Leary, C.M. There are at present about 250 pupils in the College, and its affairs are in a prosperous condition.

NOTE: In his essay on Vincentian higher education, Father Stafford Poole, C.M. writes: “In the nineteenth century, the term ‘college’ did not have the same meaning as it does today. It was far more elastic and was closer to the modern high school than to undergraduate education… In fact, most Vincentian-directed colleges in the United States were originally boys’ academies.” During the scholastic year 1880-1881, he adds, the college curriculum was reorganized with the four years of college being given distinct status. The first bachelor’s degrees were awarded in 1881.
In the above article, “Accesserunt” refers to the runners-up. In Latin, it literally means “they came the closest.” The war referred to in Master Maguire’s speech was the Modoc War (1872-1873), a conflict with Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. Among the casualties was Major General Edward R.S. Canby (1817-1873). Maguire went on to become a priest, serving as Pastor of Transfiguration Church in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section. Not far away at All Saints Church, his classmate George Kaupert was a Monsignor and Vicar-General of the Brooklyn Diocese. Another classmate, Luke A. Grace, joined the Vincentians, taught at Niagara University, and died in 1914.

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