Monsignor Patrick F. O’Hare, “The Apostle of Greenpoint” (1848-1926)

The Champion of Greenpoint

Few priests in the history of the Diocese of Brooklyn have been so closely identified with the life of a community as Rt. Rev. Msgr. Patrick F. O’Hare, pastor of St. Anthony’s parish, was identified with the life of Greenpoint. A towering civic, as well as religious, figure, he was admired and respected, sometimes feared and always obeyed by every element in the community.

A staunch promoter of civic improvement and vigorous defender of Greenpoint’s welfare and good name, Msgr. O’Hare was ever in the public eye. While he campaigned actively and openly for any cause that would benefit the people of his community, his denunciations of vice, of the desecration of the Sabbath, of immoral literature and entertainment and of public indifference toward social evils kept public opinion alert and awake to those things which would affect the section adversely.

His words and his actions have become legend and history among Greenpointers. The phrase “in the days of Msgr. O’Hare” identifies a period of intense living in the memory of those who still maintain that stories of Greenpoint and St. Anthony’s parish are synonymous. Msgr. O’Hare so impressed his personality upon the whole section that every person, Catholic or non-Catholic, was made to feel that he or she belonged to St. Anthony’s.

Born in County Down, Ireland, February 17, 1848, he came to the United States with his parents at the age of four, but returned for elementary and secondary schooling to his native land. He finished his formal education here at St. Francis Xavier College and St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, Md. Ordained March 19, 1872, he served seven years at St. James Pro-Cathedral as assistant. At the same time he was spiritual director of the Visitation Academy in Parkville, of the Visitation Convent on Johnson St., and of the House of the Good Shepherd in East New York, while providing also for the spiritual needs of the sailors at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

On July 12, 1879, Msgr. O’Hare was appointed first pastor of the Cathedral Chapel of St. John. Five years later, in July, 1884, he was appointed pastor of St. Anthony’s parish, Greenpoint. With the intense drive for which he was noted, he took over a parish in poor condition and transformed it by clearing its debt, building a new church, a convent for the Sisters and a friary for the Franciscan Brothers. He rented a former Protestant church for overflow classes when his school needed additional space. He also established St. Columbkille’s Mission on Dupont St.

In recognition of this outstanding work, he was elevated to the rank of Domestic Prelate by Pope Leo XIII in 1903. The day of his death, June 4, 1926, was a day of mourning for the entire community.

One Hundredth Anniversary, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn: 1853-1953 (Brooklyn: The Tablet Publishing Co., 1953), 71.

About Pat McNamara
  • Anonymous

    How wonderful to read about my "home parish"! I lived in St. Anthony's parish until I left home to enter religious life. Even when I was a child in the 50's and 60's people still spoke about Msgr. O'Hare. The most senior members of the parish in those days remembered him personnaly. No story about Greenpoint is ever complete without including Msgr.'s influence on the neighborhood, or showing the photo of St. Anthony's church towering over Manhattan Ave. We lived across the street and a block over, on the corner of Noble St. The interior photo must be of the earlier church. It is not the sanctuary that I remember it from my youth. When I entered the Conventual Franciscans it was a happy surprise to learn from our history that St. Anthony's had been founded by a Conventual Franciscan missionary, Fr. Joseph Brunerman. He founded a number of parishes in the Brooklyn area which later passed over to the care of the diocesan clergy. Many thanks for this great article! God bless you!Bro. Augustine Kelly, ofmConv.

  • Aaron

    God rest your soul, Mons. O’Hare!

    His writings are also fondly remembered, particularly his book “The Facts About Luther”. An expose that has stood the test of time.

  • http://at& Shirley Boorsma

    To Whomever, I find the book of ” The Facts About Luther ” by MSGR. Patrick F. O’Hare to be just as bised as those written by any author of any book about Luther. The author accuses Protestantism of most of the writing on Luther of being biased. The Cathlolic Church is as much in error as the Lutheran Church. They both fail to be the church established by Christ in the bible.
    The true church was established on the day of Penticost in Acts 1. This was much before the Catholic church was ever in exixtance. I will let you have this however, the Catholic church was the first group of people to go into Apostecy. They were the first to leave the truth and follow Roman rule with Popes and all the rest. ( The Catholic Church is set up in it’s higharchy just as the Roman government was from the Pope as being the head of the church as the emperior was head of Rome. I hope this wil help you to understand that the Catholic Church isn’t in the bible. They were always wrong and all Luther did was to point out what wrong he could understand at that time. He didn’t get it all right either but at least he tried to share what he could.
    Shirley Boorsma