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St. Mary's Catholic Church


ST. MARY'S CATHOLIC CHURCH. Catholics erected their first church in New Castle in 1852. It was a frame church located west of the town, and was erected by Father Reid, one of the pioneer priests. Father Reid was succeeded in 1854 by Rev. Peter McGarvey, who was the first resident pastor. In June, 1855, the latter was succeeded by Rev. Thomas O'Farrell, who continued to minister to the congregation and missions until August, 1859. He was followed by Rev. John C. Farren, and after the latter's withdrawal, in 1862, the congregation was visited monthly by Rev. Thomas Walsh, of Brady's Bend, Armstrong County. The next resident pastor was Rev. James Canevin, and it was during his incumbency that, on account of the development of the iron industries of this section and the consequent settlement here of laborers from other points, many of whom were Catholics, a new church was found to be an absolute necessity. Accordingly Father Canevin purchased a lot situated on the corner of Beaver and North Streets, and began the erection of a church which was completed in 1871. It is a brick structure, 110 feet in length by 45 feet in width; it has a well proportioned tower in the center in front and is of a modified Gothic style of architecture.

Father Canevin was succeeded by Father Hayes, who in April, 1871, opened a school, and in the following month purchased a large frame building for a pastoral residence. The affairs of the church and parish went on thenceforward in a prosperous manner until the panic of 1873 affected the iron industries of New Castle, and many of the employees of the great works were forced to seek employment in other sections. This threw many unexpected burdens on the members of St. Mary's, but under the guidance of wise priests the congregation weathered all storms.

Father Hayes was succeeded on February 8, 1879, by Rev. Joseph Gallagher, who served faithfully and well until his death, which took place August 11, 1906. On October 31, 1907, Rev. Florence F. O'Shea was appointed rector of St. Mary's and took charge on the 15th of November following.

The first Catholic school in New Castle was opened by the sisters from the Sisters of Mary Orphan School near New Bedford, in the frame church in West New Castle, about 1871. In 1876 the present school building was erected. During 1907 Father O'Shea built additions to the school building, which was necessitated by the large number of students, there being at present 475 on the roll. The school is under the charge of eight sisters of the order of Sisters of St. Joseph, and their convent adjoins the pastoral residence on North and Beaver Streets. The work of the school includes, in addition to the subjects taught in the primary grades of the public schools, a complete course in stenography, typewriting, bookkeeping and two years of instruction in Latin. Father O'Shea has under his spiritual care 550 families, comprising 3,000 souls.

Twentieth Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, 1908, pages 219-220



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