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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Rev. Jeremiah Leahy

The pastor of St. Vincentís Church, Petaluma, Rev. Jeremiah Leahy, came to California in 1888 and has been an active worker in the church ever since. St. Vincentís was visited in the early days by priests of St. Vincentís Orphan Asylum; later it was established as a parish, in 1857, with Rev. L. A. Auges, as parish priest. The first church building was erected on Keokuk and Prospect streets, and for some time the congregation worshipped there. In 1859 Rev. Father Leotens succeeded to the incumbency and afterwards he became Bishop of Vancouver, B. C. Next came the Rev. Peter Birmingham, then Father J. F. Harrington, and next Rev. F. L. Scanlon (later Bishop of Salt Lake), who nine months later was succeeded by Rev. Father J. F. Cleary, who continued as pastor during the erection of the building. He came in 1873, and soon afterwards the present site comprising about three-quarters of a block and soon afterwards the present site comprising about three-quarters of a block between Western avenue and Bassett street and Liberty and Howard streets was purchased. He erected the present church building about 1876, and a large parochial residence about 1881. Two blocks away on Union, between Keokuk and Howard streets, this enterprising priest purchased the site and built St. Vincentís Academy, and in 1887 the Convent of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Academy is for boys and girls, and aside from the grammar department they have a commercial and high school course which is in charge of the above-mentioned Sisters. Rev. Father J. F. Cleary continued as pastor until 1908, when he became incapacitated and retired. He is now residing at the old home in which he was born in County Wexford, Ireland. He was a graduate of All Hallows College, Dublin, completing the course in June, 1871, and coming immediately to San Francisco, Cal., where for two years he was assistant to Father King, of the Immaculate Conception Parish at Oakland, remaining there until his appointment to St. Vincentís in 1873 by Archbishop Alemeny. On his retirement, Father E. J. Doran was appointed administrator of St. Vincentís, and he was succeeded by Rev. Jeremiah Leahy in January, 1911.

Rev Jeremiah Leahy was born in County Kerry, Ireland, and was graduated from All Hallowís College, Dublin, and ordained June 24, 1888, by Bishop Moore, of St. Ballarat, Australia, for the San Francisco diocese. Coming to California in the summer of 1888, Father Leahy immediately became assistant to Father Cleary at St. Vincentís Church, Petaluma, with whom he worked in harmony for eleven years, leaving to accept the pastorate of St. Francis de Solano at Sonoma. While there, he built the church at Glen Ellen, and aided in the restoration of the old mission at Sonoma, now the property of the state. After nine years of service at St. Francis, during which period he endeared himself to the hearts of his parishioners by the faithful discharge of his duties, he was sent to Stockton, Cal., as administrator to Father OíConnor, of St. Maryís Church, serving three until January, 1911, when he was appointed to St. Vincentís. In June, 1911, Father Clearyís resignation was accepted by Archbishop Riordan, who thereupon appointed Rev. Jeremiah Leahy pastor of St. Vincentís Church in Petaluma. Father Leahy now devotes all his time and energy to this parish, and is ably assisted in his work by Rev. M. M. OíShea and Rev. Alfred M. deSousa.

St. Vincentís congregation numbers about two thousand, and is one of the must successful churches in the county. In addition to the arduous duties of St. Vincentís Parish, Father Leahy has charge of the Mission of St. Joseph at Cotati between Petaluma and Santa Rosa. He also has charge of the Church of the Holy Ghost in the Wilson district, five miles west of the city of Petaluma, the three places making a grand total of two thousand, five hundred parishioners. Father Leahy is a saintly man of splendid character, well qualified for the discharge of the important pastorate that is his. His practical teachings, as well as his own private life, having done much to influence for good the community in which he resides.

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