This Day in Brooklyn Catholic History

This day in 1922 marks the dedication of St. Peter Claver Church, the Diocese of Brooklyn’s first African-American parish. The parish was (and is) located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a growing center of African-American life in New York City since the First World War. Many of the first parishioners were migrants from the Jim Crow South looking [Read More...]

Angelo Secchi, Jesuit Scientist

Today marks the death of Father Angelo Secchi (1818-1878), Jesuit scientist and inventor. Born in northern Italy, he joined the Jesuits at age sixteen. Ordained in 1847, he was soon assigned to direct the observatory at the Gregorian University, a position he held until his death. His contributions to science were numerous. He was active [Read More...]

Catholic Cemetery Home to Early Baseball Players

Because so many of the early professional baseball players were Irish Catholics, looking at old Catholic cemeteries is like going through a Who’s Who of Baseball history. Today in 1934 marks the death of Baseball Hall of Fame player and manager John J. McGraw (1873-1934) (seen here on the left), who is buried in a [Read More...]

Which Bishop Kearney?

Today in 1935 marks the day that Raymond A. Kearney (1902-1956) was consecrated an Auxiliary Bishop for the Brooklyn Diocese. Born in Jersey City, his family moved to Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section when he was a child. He was a parishioner at Nativity of Our Blessed Lord Church, where he attended the parochial school. He then [Read More...]

Felix Varela: Cuban Patriot and Priest

Today marks the death of Father Felix Varela (1788-1853), priest, scholar, and Cuban patriot. Orphaned at three, he was raised by his grandfather in Florida. He returned to Cuba at fourteen to study for the priesthood. Ordained at age 23, he became a seminary professor. He would eventually publish seven books on philosophy and social [Read More...]

Lithuanian Parish Founded in Queens, 1908

Today marks the day in 1908 that the First Mass was celebrated by Father Nicodemus Petjus at Transfiguration Church in the Maspeth section of Queens. The parish was founded as Queens’ first (and only) Lithuanian Catholic parish. By the turn of the century Lithuanians were moving into western Queens in large numbers, and they wanted [Read More...]

Mother Mary Augustine Giesen (1860-1950)

Today marks the death of Mary Augustine Giesen (1860-1950), foundress of the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville. Born in Minnesota, she joined the Sisters of St. Mary in St. Louis as a young woman. In 1894 she and six sisters founded a separate community, the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville. That year they [Read More...]

Walla Walla’s One and Only

Today marks the death of Bishop Augustin M. Blanchet (1797-1887), the first and only Bishop of Walla Walla. Born in Quebec, he was ordained a priest in 1821. His older brother Francis N. Blanchet also became a priest and an archbishop. For twenty-five years he worked in rural parishes and in Montreal before he was [Read More...]

Robert E. Lee’s Jesuit Classmate

The website for the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester has a great section on its former presidents, and it seems that the college’s president during the Civil War years was quite an interesting figure. Father James Clark (1809-1885) was the first West Point graduate to join the Jesuits. Born in Pennsylvania, he entered [Read More...]

Josephites founded to Evangelize Black America

They weren’t actually founded on this day, but Black History Month makes this a good time to talk about the Josephites (advertised here in this 1890′s flyer). Officially named St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart in 1893, the Josephites are unique among American religious communities. They started as an offshoot of the Mill Hill [Read More...]


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