Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives

 

The History

of

St. Francis of Assisi Parish

 

Compiled for the

Centenary of the Founding

of the Parish

 

and the

Golden Anniversary

of the

Laying of the Cornerstone

of the Present Church

 

1832     1936     1886

 

July 23, 1936

 

transcribed for the Clearfield County PA USGenWeb by

Ellis Michaels

 

Copyright

This page was last updated on 23 Apr 2011

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Chapters

Dedication
Introduction - page V
Clearfield - page VII
Saint Francis of Assisi - page XI
Founding of St. Francis - page XV
Bishop Kenrick's Diary - page XIX
Deed to St. Francis Property - page XXIII
Early Catholics - page XXV
Old Records - page XXIX
Clearfield and Father Gallitzin - page XXVI
St. Francis Centenary Hymn - page XXXIII
Golden Anniversary of St. Francis Church - page XXXV
St. Francis Benefactor - page XLI
Catholic Education - page XLII
Most Rev. John Mark Gannon - page XLVII
Very Rev. John D. Coady - page LI
Right Rev. Monsignor Peter J. Sheridan - page LII
Reverend Thomas W. Cavanaugh - page LV
Rev. Michael A. Ryan - page LVI
Priests Who Served St. Francis - page LIX
Clearfield's Contribution To Priesthood - page LXVII
Our Sisters - page LXX
The New Convent - page LXXVI
St. Francis Cemeteries - page LXXVIII
Catholic Daughters of America - page LXXXI
Blessed Virgin Sodality - page LXXXII
Rosary and Altar Society - page LXXXIII
Saint Francis Choir - page LXXXIV
Girl Scouts - page LXXXV
Knights of Columbus - page LXXXVI
Committee for Jubilee Celebration - page LXXXVII
Our Patrons - page LXXXIX

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XIV

HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH

 

 

Old St. Francis of Assisi Church The first Church with Episcopal Blessing in the Diocese of Erie

 

 

 

 

XV
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH

FOUNDING OF ST. FRANCIS


     The early services of this church in Clearfield, when this was only a missionary station, have not been recorded, and of all services held prior to 1830, the information has been derived from persons who held it only in memory, and is, therefore, somewhat incomplete. There was no regularly organized society of the church until 1830; but as early as 1815, or 1818, the town was visited by missionaries in the priesthood, who said masses, with an occasional sermon, for the benefit of the few Catholic families then residing here.
 

     Among the few there can be remembered the names of Robert Collins, Joseph Boone, James Hamilton, and later, James and John Dougherty, John McLaughlin, Hugh Brady, and probably others whose names cannot be recalled. Of the priests who traveled through this missionary field at that time, were the Rev. Fathers Hayden, Reilly, and Leavy. During the ministrations of the last named, Father Leavy, the old Catholic Church was built. Prior to that time, 1830, such services as were had were held at the houses of the parishioners and in the old academy building on Front Street.
 

     For the purpose of erecting a church edifice, Joseph Boone donated the land on Second Street; Father Leavy contributed for the work the sum of $1,600.00, which, with the contributions from other sources, made the erection possible.
 

     Hugh Leavy was the superintendent of the work. The church was built of brick, and had a seating capacity of about three hundred. The first seats were placed in the church by John McLaughlin, Hugh Leavy, and John Dougherty.
 

 

 

 

XVI

HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH

 

 

Very Rev. John D. Coady

 

 

 

 

XVII
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH
 

     Although the building was sufficiently completed to have services held therein during the first year, yet it was not until two or three years after that it was entirely finished.
 

     Succeeding Father Leavy came Rev. Otto Borgess in 1838 and in 1841 the Rev. Father Nugent, who remained only about two years. Father P. A. Prendergast came in 1844. He was followed in 1846 by Rev. John Berbigier, who was then in charge at Frenchville. Next came Rev. Joseph F. Dean in 1847, who remained some time, and after him Rev. Joseph A. Gallagher, and Rev. F. Ledwith in succession. Rev. Father John Dennis Coady took charge in the parish, commencing in 1857. During his pastorate the priest's residence was built, on the lot adjoining the church on the north. Father Coady remained here seven years and left in July, 1863. In August following, the Rev. Thomas Tracey was sent to the parish and remained about five years. He was followed by Father O'Brannigan in 1868, and he in turn was succeeded by Father Wurzfeld, who remained but a short time. Father Thomas McManus came in 1871, and left in November, 1872, when Rev. Father Peter Joseph Sheridan was sent by the Bishop to take charge of the parish. Father Sheridan's work was as successful as it had been long. In 1884 plans for a new church were adopted and Father Sheridan, mbly assisted by members of his church, set about raising funds for that purpose.

 

 

 

 

XVIII
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH

 

 

Most Rev. Francis P. Kenrick, D. D.

Bishop of Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

XIX
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH

BISHOP KENRICK'S DIARY


     The Catholic people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should be and are forever grateful to Francis Patrick Kenrick, the third Bishop of Philadelphia.
 

     This gratitude is poured forth from the hearts of all because through his interest, zeal and labors the Light of Faith was kept alive and nourished in this great state. For it was he who, having assumed the episcopal dignity, set out to examine the territory of the Diocese of Philadelphia, comprising the entire State of Pennsylvania, all of Dela­ware and the western and southern half of New Jersey; to bring the consolation of religion, the sacraments of Holy Mother Church, to souls hungry for spiritual food. And this appreciation is born of the fact that day after day throughout his nineteen episcopal visitations he jotted down in his diary an account of his travels and the state of religion in the various parts of the diocese.
 

     We are happy therefore in being able to give herewith those parts of his diary which deal with the early faith in Clearfield.


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1830)


     November the third day we reached Lewistown, and blessed the church, under the invocation of All Saints, and gave Confirmation to fifty persons. This church is a frame building; it is small, but large enough for the few Catholics living there. Near the church they are now building a brick house, to be the dwelling of the pastor. Rev. Patrick Leavy is in charge of this congregation. He has the care of another congregation in Clearfield County also; and he is now building a church in the town of Clearfield, though very few of the faithful live there. The contributions here (in both places apparently) are hardly sufficient to support a pastor. Title to the church property in Lewistown is held by the bishop.


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1832)


     October the fourth day. I blessed a new church in the town of Clearfield under the patronage of St. Francis of Assisium. This church was built under the direction of the Rev. Patrick Leavy, pastor of Holy Trinity in Huntingdon, by the contributions mainly of Irish workingmen. I also gave Confirmation to twenty-three (in the same | place and time, apparently). The land, on which the church is built, together with the cemetery next the church, is the gift of Mr. ————

 

 

 

 

XX
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH
 

Boone; by this gift, in the instrument of transfer, the title passes to the bishop. * * * The number of the faithful in th;s town is small; but many (Catholics) from Alsace and southern France have come here, and are living scattered through the County.


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1834)


     The next day, which was Sunday, we confirmed ten in the church of St. Francis of Assisium (Clearfield?) : Thirty received Holy Communion. The church still wants four windows. This is owing either to the poverty or the neglect of the faithful, who are few in number in this town and its vicinity, and are not much burdened with the goods of this world. There is danger that the building be ruined, if it remains in this condition over (another) winter. This is the more to be regretted because it is a neat building and large, accommodated to the future growth of religion: and it is the only building in the town destined for religious services of any kind.


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1835)


     September the thirteenth day. I confirmed four persons in the Church of St. Francis of Assisium, in the town of Clearfield. On this same day and the following day I gave Holy Communion to twenty persons. The number of the faithful in this town and its vicinity is very small; and they have little (temporal) wealth; therefore the church, which is a neat and large building, and was erected three years ago, is not yet finished.
 

     September the eighteenth day. (1835). I arrived in the town of Clearfield and remained until the twenty-second. I gave confirmation to thirteen, and Holy Communion to forty. The Rev. Peter Lemke was there- He has the care of this congregation until a pastor can be appointed.


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1837)


     August the twentieth day, which was the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost. I held the Visitation in the church of St. Francis of Assisium in the town of Clearfield. The Rev. Otto Borgess was present: For one year, now, he has had care of the faithful in this County and in other places. About twenty received Holy Communion, and six were signed with the Holy Chrism.


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1837)


     The church of St. Francis of Assisi (Clearfield) is still open to ' the winds and rains. It ought to be finished as soon as possible. But three hundred dollars would be needed to bring the work to completion;

 

 

 

 

XXI

HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH


but the number of Catholics is small, and they have not the means. There are sacred vestments in this church, a Mass book and a Chalice. But the priest (Father Borgess), who has not a Chalice of his own, takes this with him when making the round of visiting other missions. He visits the Faithful here very seldom, and not even at regular, stated times, though he has his residence at Bellefonte (only) forty-six miles distant.


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1838)


     The Rev. Mr. William Loughran visits the faithful in Lewistown once in two months, and himself lives in the sacristy of the church of St. John the Evangelist at Bellefonte, because the Catholics there are too few, and too poor to provide a residence (for the priest). He celebrates Mass on Sunday once or twice a month in this church (St. John's, Bellefonte). He visits the church of St. Francis of Assisi in the town of Clearfield once every two months.


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1840)


     July the twelfth day. I made the Visitation in the church of St. Francis (of Assisi) in the town of Clearfield. There were no confirmations. I gave to Joseph Boone twenty-three dollars in payment for work done by agreement with the priest Flanagan (of Bellefonte) ; and I gave him an order to receive two hundred dollars more from Mr. M. A. Frenaye in my name, so as to provide for the finishing of this church.


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1842)


     August the twenty-third day. With the Rev. Joseph Cody as a companion, I made the journey by stage during the night to Curwinsville, where Hugh Levy and ———— Boone were waiting to bring me in a carriage to the town of Clearfield. I confirmed fourteen in the church of St. Francis of Assisi (in Clearfield). The Rev. James Alderano Berti assisted me. He attends this church now for four months past, himself living with the French (in the French colony).


DIARY AND VISITATION RECORD OF BISHOP KENRICK (1842)


     The good priest Patrick Nugent came here to bring me with him to the town of Bellefonte. He bears the burden of care over both these congregations (Bellefonte and Clearfield) (including the French Colony). As he was very eager to get away from these responsibilities and to labor elsewhere, I yielded to this desire, (and) permitted him (i e. assigned him) to the charge of the congregation in Chambersburg, from which place the Rev. J. A. Miller wishes to go to St. Mary's College, Emmettsburg (Emmitsburg), to give his services to the work there.

 

 

 

 

XXII

HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH

 

 

Rev William T. D'Arcy, Rev. T. Ledwith,

Rev. J. Berbigier, Rev. Michael A. Miller

 

 

 

 

XXIII
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH

DEED TO ST. FRANCIS PROPERTY


Joseph Boone, and Phiscilla [sic], his wife
to
Rt. Rev. Henry Conwell, D. D.,

R. C. Bishop of Philadelphia


General Warranty Deed
Dated May 25th, 1830
Cons. $60.00
Ack. May 25, 1830
Rec. 26th June 1846
In Deed Book "I" Page 470


     Conveys, "In trust for the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Town and County of Clearfield, holding communion with the See at Rome," a certain lot or parcel of ground near the town of Clearfield, BEGINNING at a post at the south end of Second Street, at corner of Matthew Brown's outlot, and running S. 15 ½° W. 13.8 perches to a post; thence West 8.8 perches to a post; thence N. 15½° E. 13.8 perches to a post; thence East 8.8 perches to the post at corner of Matthew Brown's outlot and place of beginning. Containing Ύ Acres and 6 Perches.
 

     Title from David Witmer, Exr. of Abraham Witmer, dec'd, to Rudolph Litch dated June 24, 1826 and recorded in Deed Book C page 395. and which Rudolph Litch and wife by deed dated 9th April 1829 and recorded in Deed Book D page 253 conveyed to Joseph Boone. Contains stipulations, inter alia:
"It is hereby expressly covenanted and agreed that the said plot of ground and premises, with the appurtenances, are not nor ever to be sold, mortgaged or conveyed, without the consent of the resident or attending Pastor of the Congregation, the Bishop of Philadelphia, and his Vicar General, after mature deliberation, and in that event the produce of such sale to be applied to no other use than to the promotion of the Catholic faith in Clearfield County, neither can the church or property ever be considered as the private property of any priest or Bishop, or ever be involved in any way towards the private debts of either."


     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the said parties to these presents have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.

JOS. BOONE (SEAL)
PRISCILLA BOONE (SEAL)
 

     Received on the day of the date of the said Indenture of and from the said Right Rev'd. Henry Conwell, D. D. etc., the sum of Sixty Dollars, lawful money of the United States in full for consideration money therein mentioned.
JOSEPH BOONE.

WITNESS: Martin Hoover.

 

 

 

 

XXIV
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH

 

 

Old St. Francis School

 

Old St. Francis Convent

 

 

 

 

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