Brooklyn’s German Catholics Celebrate Jubilee, 1891

HALF A CENTURY– Since the German Catholics Came to Brooklyn– The Fifty Years of the Foundation of the Colony to be Commemorated in Vicar General May’s Church (The Brooklyn Eagle, September 28, 1891, 2.)

According to so excellent an authority as the Herold des Glaubens, there are 28,175 German Catholics in Bishop Loughlin’s diocese, ministered to by twenty-three priests. Local authorities consider this rather a low estimate. The Leader, for instance, puts the number down at 40,000, and the Catholic almanac gives the names of thirty-five German priests. The foundation of the German Catholic colony was laid just fifty years ago, and the golden jubilee will be commemorated by a series of imposing events that will begin in Vicar General May’s Church of the Holy Trinity to-morrow. The first German church was started for the benefit of the German farmers and settlers in and about the old village of Williamsburgh. The famous German pioneer priest, Father John Stephen Raffeiner, used to come across the river to attend to them. In July, 1841, he bought with his own money part of the farm of Abraham Meserole and built on it a small frame church, under the patronage of the most Holy Trinity. This was the fruitful parent stem from which thirteen other German parishes in Brooklyn have been organized, and which to-day has one of the largest and most prosperous churches and congregations in the city. It can also boast of having given twenty-four priests to the Church. It is now under the charge of Very Rev. Michael May, V.G., and four assistants. Fathers John Koeberle, C.M. Schaaf, Joseph Traenkle and G.D. Sander. Father May has been pastor since 1861, when Father Raffeiner died, and has been at work in the parish since 1859, when he came here from Bavaria. The little wooden edifice was surrounded by a grave yard which, like the other places of sepulture within the city limits, has long since disappeared. A new church had to be built in a few years and by 1853 Father Raffeiner built a large church, 125 by 65 feet, a few yards distant from the old edifice. The former church was then used as a Sunday school for the children of the parish. On Ascension day, 1882, Vicar General May laid the cornerstone of the present Church of the Holy Trinity, and the edifice was dedicated on August 23, 1885, with the assistance of Bishop Wigger of Newark; Bishop Krautbauer of Green Bay, Mich., [sic] and Bishop Loughlin. The splendid gothic structure is 200 by 90 feet. Its steeples are 280 feet high. The church as it now stands cost over $300,000. The church has a membership of 10,000. A new school in connection with the church, in course of erection, will cost $75,000.

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