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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Father Maurice J. Barry

The present pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic church at Healdsburg is Father M. J. Barry. This church was was established as a mission and presided over by the priests from Tomales. It was organized by Father William Slattery and the first services were held in a hall adjoining the present parochial residence. Following this pastor was Father M. M. Conway, who purchased the present site at the corner of Matheson and East streets, 136x163 feet. He also erected the first church which did duty until the present new edifice was built in 1910. The old building was moved to the rear and now does duty as a hall for society meetings.

Father Patrick O’Connell, the next pastor, built the parochial residence and remained for some time and is now at St. Theresa’s church in the Potrero, San Francisco. The pastor for the following twenty-one and a-half years was Father John Meiler, now of St. John’s church on Mission Road in San Francisco. In 1905 the present priest was appointed pastor and it was through his efforts that the present fine building was erected. The building, which was begun in September 1909, and completed in April, 1910, is Romanesque in style of architecture and cost $13, 500.

Father Barry was born in County Kerry, Ireland, the son of a farmer. At the age of fifteen years he began his studies for the priesthood, making his classics at St. Michael’s, Listowel, then graduating from St. Patrick’s, Carlow, Ireland, and was ordained June 17, 1897, by Bishop Foley of Ireland. Thereafter he came immediately to San Francisco, where for two years he was assistant at All Hallows church and then for seven years at St. Patrick’s mission. As has been stated, in 1905 he was appointed to his present pastorate. He also attends St. Peters church at Cloverdale, a mission established about the same time as the Healdsburg parish, but attended by the priests from Mendocino. He organized the congregation, built and named the church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, at Asti. The first services at this place were held in a dining hall until the church was completed ion 1907. That same year he made a trip to his old home and visited the places of interest on the continent, after which he returned to his duties in Healdsburg. It is due to the earnest endeavors and devotion to the cause the Rev. Father Barry has built up the parish to its present standing and endeared himself to his parishioners.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011