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KILROY, Reverend Lawrence

Port Huron Times: Friday, July 17, 1891

Rev. Lawrence Kilroy, the Pioneer Priest of St. Clair County, Passed Away at Columbus on Thursday.

Rev. Father Kilroy, the oldest priest of Detroit diocese, died at his residence in Columbus on Thursday morning at 11 o’clock.

The Rev. Father was born in Ireland in 1803 in the parish of Tisarn, township of Lisduff, King’s county, the Barony of Garry Castle.

He arrived in Detroit in 1834, and received minor orders from Bishop Rese in 1839. On the 20th of March, 1842, he was raised to the holy priesthood by Rev. Peter Paul Lefevere, the successor of Bishop Rese. He was the first priest ordained by the Rt. Rev. P.P. Lefevere and appointed to Trinity church, Detroit, where he remained until December 28, 1847, when he was transferred to Grand Rapids. Here he abored until he took charge of the St. Clair missions in 1850. The territory over which he traveled was so extensive that he reached Port Huron but once a month during the next few years. His field of labor reached from Algonac on the south, to Point au Barques. For the first few years of his appointment, he made his home with James Fisher, of Marysville. In 1852 he built a church in Marine City, and another at St. Clair one year later, where he resided until 1857 when he removed to Port Huron. It will be observed from the above, that St. Stephen’s first resident priest came to the parish a little more than 30 years ago.

Father Kilroy, during his incumbency, also erected churches at Columbus, Burtchville and Kenockee, and built the foundation of St. Stephen’s church of this city. To him must be given the credit of organizing and perfecting the various Catholic congregations throughout the district.

The Catholics of Port Huron, in 1851, purchased the lot on the angle formed by Water street and Lapeer avenue, and shortly afterwards bought, what was then the Methodist church, situated on Sixth street. They moved the church to their lot on the 26th of December, 1852. The church, having been placed on St. Stephen’s day, it was named after the first martyr for that reason.

About two years previous to purchasing the Methodist church, Joseph P. Minnie gave the Catholics of Port Huron the use of the upper story of a small building on Pine street for church purposes. The under or ground floor was used for a carpenter shop. Here the people came to mass, proud of their church possession, even if it was but the loft of a tradesman’s workshop, with a very few Catholic families at that period, and considering that all possessed limited means, the task of getting a church was a hard one. It required zeal, fervor and determination on their part to accomplish so much, but to their credit they succeeded in an admirable manner.

During the next ten years St. Stephen’s congregation grew rapidly in numbers, and it was soon manifest that a larger church was needed for their accomodation. With this end in view they purchased the property where the present church stands, August 29th, 1863, and began operations as soon as they were in the position to do so. The corner stone of the St. Stephen’s church was laid in 1865 by Rev. Lawrence Kilroy and the work of building the foundations pushed to completion during that year. In 1867 he was assigned one part of his missions, Columbus and Kenockee, in which field of labor he spent the remainder of his days. He withdrew from active service in 1881 and since that time lived in quiet retirement in Columbus.

His funeral will take place on Tuesday, July 21st, in the church of Mt. Carmel, Kenockee. “Requiescat in pace.”

Submitted by M. Danelle Thompson