Father William Starrs, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York (1807-1873)

Very Rev. William Starrs, D.D. (The New York Times,  February 7, 1873)

Very Rev. William Starrs, D.D., Rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of New York, died yesterday morning at 7:50 o’clock, at No. 263 Mulberry Street, in the sixty-sixth year of his age. He celebrated Mass yesterday week for the last time. On Friday last he was taken ill and could not leave his bed, but rallied a little on the succeeding days. On Tuesday he experienced a change for the worse, and sank into a stupor, in which state he remained until Wednesday morning, when, during a short period of consciousness, the last rites of the Church were administered to him. At 11 o’clock the same morning he was visited by Archbishop McCloskey, whom he recognized. He then relapsed into unconsciousness, and remained in that state until the next morning, when he died without a struggle. The deceased clergymen was held in high esteem by his clerical brethren, and beloved and revered by the Catholic community at large. Dr. O’Rourke, who attended Father Starrs throughout his illness, states that he was completely prostrated from mental and bodily exhaustion for several months past. The body, clothed in full vestments, lay in state in one of the parlors, which had been draped in mourning, and was visited by a continual stream of people during the day. The deceased was born in Drumquin, County Tyrone, Ireland, in 1807, and studied classics in Maynooth College. He arrived in this country in 1831: was received by Bishop Dubois, of New York, and was sent by that prelate to St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, where he finished his theological studies. Returning to New York, he was ordained in St. Patrick’s Cathedral by Bishop Dubois in September 1834, and remained attached to the cathedral for ten years. In 1844 he was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Grand Street, to succeed Rev. Father Quarters, who had been consecrated Bishop of Chicago. He retained this position until 1853, when he was transferred to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the scene of his early labors, succeeding Rev. John Loughlin, who had been consecrated Bishop of Long Island, as rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of New York, both of which positions he held until his death. Father Starrs was considered one of the best theologians in the City, and had twice acted as theologian in the general councils of the Church. After the death of Archbishop Hughes he had acted as administrator of the affairs of the diocese for nearly eight months until the appointment of Archbishop McCloskey, and had held the office of Superior of the Sisters of Charity for twenty years. He had also been offered the bishoprics of Savannah and other places, but declined them. The body will lie in state at the residence of the deceased until Sunday afternoon, when it will be removed to the Cathedral, and the office of the dead will be chanted. The funeral services will be held at the Cathedral at 10 o’clock on Monday morning. A solemn pontifical requiem High Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop McCloskey, after which the body will be placed in the vaults beneath the church.

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