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