Past Priests

The biograhical sketches below are excerpted from the book
"CATHOLIC PRIESTS OF THE DIOCESE OF WILMINGTON;
A JUBILEE YEAR 2000 COMMEMORATION"
by Rev. Thomas J. Peterman.



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1856--1857.......Bernard J. McManus (from St. John's, Baltimore)

Bernard J. McManus was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, and became an orphan when he was only twelve. By the time he was seventeen, he had come to America, wandering aimlessly through life and country without any definite purpose in living other than saving his immortal soul. In the early 1840's he studied law for a short while in Adam's County, Pennsylvania, near Emmittsburg, and then entered St. Mary's College in Baltimore.

It was probably while at St. Mary's College that his true vocation in life was discovered, for from there he enrolled at St. Mary's Seminary to study for the priesthood. For two years before his ordination he served as a member of the faculty of St. Mary's College, then operated in conjunction with St. Mary's Seminary. On September 1, 1850, he was ordained by Archbishop Eccleston in the Baltimore Cathedral.

The first appointment of Father McManus was as pastor of St. Mary's, Rockville, Maryland, and it's Mission churches of Montgomery County. Then on November 18, 1851, he was named pastor of St. Paul's, Ellicott City. From there he was transferred, as assistant pastor, to St. Peter's in Washington in early 1853, and in November of the same year he became the first resident pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Baltimore where he built the church and where he served for almost thirty-five years until his death. St. John's Parish, incidentally, is now merged with St. James'.

A close friend of Father Gibbons, Father McManus received the title of Rt. Rev. Monsignor in June of 1887 when he was named a Domestic Prelate.  But he was not to enjoy this honor long, for, on February 28, 1888, Monsignor McManus died of a bronchial infection at St. John's Rectory at the age of sixty-eight and in the thirty-eighth year of his priesthood.  He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Baltimore.

1857--1859.......Dwight E. Lyman (from St. John's, Baltimore)
Born at Mount Pleasant, New York, December 3, 1818, Dwight Edward Lyman was baptized in the Episcopalian Church. While he was receiving his advanced education at Columbia College in New York, he also served as organist in a Protestant Episcopal church. After completion of his course of studies at Columbia, he was ordained to the Episcopalian ministry and became a member of the faculty of St. James College in Hagerstown, Maryland.  After teaching there for six years from 1842 to 1848, he was made rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Columbia, Pennsylvania. He was rector of St. Paul's from 1848 to 1853, when he was received into the Catholic Church.

Father Lyman's conversion occurred during the period of what was called the "Oxford Movement."  That movement began in Oxford in England about the year 1833 with the express aim of its founders to restore to the Church of England certain primitive Catholic teachings, without, however, going to the extent of a union with Rome.  John Henry Newman, later Cardinal Newman, was one of the originators of the movement.  Its aims and beliefs were outlined in a series of "Tracts of the Times,"  hence the Oxford Movement was also known as The "Tractarian Movement."  In the course of research and the crystallization of ideas attendant upon the publication of these tracts, the movement came closer and closer to the Catholic Faith.  Finally, Tract 90, the last of the Tracts, openly advocated Roman teachings and evoked a storm of controversy in Anglican circles.  With the conversion of Cardinal Newman to the Catholic Faith in 1845, many Episcopalian clergymen followed his lead.  The generally accepted leader of those opposed to union with Rome was Henry Edward Manning, an Archdeacon of the Episcopalian Church.  When Manning finally capitulated and became a Catholic in 1851,  many who had been wavering but were still clinging to the Episcopalian Faith followed his lead and made their submission to the Catholic Church.

Such was the case with Dwight Edward Lyman.  He and the Reverend Francis Baker, pastor of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Baltimore, friend as they were, frequently discussed the controversy that was raging in England.  During one of their discussions, Mr. Baker made the following statement to Mr. Lyman: "The church that is good enough for Manning is good enough for me." Then one day, while reading the daily paper, Dwight Lyman, the pastor of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Columbia, Pennsylvania, came across the news item that Dr. Manning had made his submission to the Catholic Church in Paris. Sending the clipping to Francis Baker, then pastor of St. Luke's Episcopalian Church in Baltimore, Dwight Lyman reminded his friend of the statement he had once made: "The church that is good enough for Manning is good enough for me."

The Reverend Dwight Edward Lyman was received into the Catholic Church on August 27, 1853 by the Rev. F.X. Knackstedt, S.J., at St. Joseph's Church in Baltimore. He entered St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore on October 15, 1853, was ordained deacon at the Seminary by Archbishop Kenrick on June 28, 1856, and, on the following day, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, was ordained priest at the Baltimore Cathedral, again by the Archbishop. His first assignment was as assistant to Father McManus.

Father Lyman remained with Father McManus at St. John's until October 10, 1860, when he was appointed pastor of St. Mary's, Govans.  There he remained for thirty-three years until he died on December 29, 1893, at the age of seventy-five.

In the eulogy delivered at Father Lyman's funeral, Cardinal Gibbons singled out "his great care in instructing children in the principles of the Christian Faith and his care in instructing converts to the Catholic Faith."  A convert himself, "over three hundred conversions were due to Father Lyman's work in Govanstown." This is the priest who for two years was the second pastor of St. Dennis' Church at Lambson's Station.


1859--1872.......George Villiger, S.J.  (from Old Bohemia)

Father George Villiger was born September 14, 1808, in Canton Aargau, Switzerland. From Father Edward I. Devitt, S. J., we are told that he was sturdy in build and rugged in constitution. It has been said that he often walked all the way from Old Bohemia to Lambson's Station-- a distance of thirteen miles. He had no assistants during his 22 years at Old Bohemia (October 1856-November 1878) and apparently he wanted none. Preferring to do all the work himself, he was indefatigable, and by his zealous labors did much for the advancement of religion and the improvement of the Church.

While at Old Bohemia Father Villiger made some additions. He placed the marble slab, with its appropriate inscription, over the entrance to St. Francis Xavier's Church; added a vestibule and tower, and procured the sweet sounding bell which could be heard for miles around as it proclaimed the Angelus.




1872--1873.......John O'Conner (at Lambson's Station)
Father O'Connor in May 1872 was assigned to assist Rev. George Villiger, S. J.  pastor of St. Francis Xavier at Bohemia, apparently to care for the Kent County, Maryland missions of St. Dennis at Georgetown Crossroads, Bennet Willson's on Eastern Neck, and Thomas Dixon's at Chestertown, in place of Father William Dollard, who had been transferred.

The Catholic Directory for 1873, compiled the previous year, lists him as pastor of the three Kent County missions. No further reference to his work in the Wilmington Diocese has been found.


1873--1876.......George Villiger, S.J. (from Old Bohemia)
On November 10, 1868, Bishop Becker, the first bishop of the recently created Diocese of Wilmington, wrote a letter to Archbishop Spaulding in which he made the following statement: "Reverend George T. Villiger, S.J., is very active and energetic, in spite of his troublesome cough, and thinks the church of St. Dennis, or St. Mary's (as St. Dennis Church was sometimes called) , on Mr. Dennis McCauley's estate , should be taken down and a new dry one built near Galena, which seems to be the best place. The old church (still not yet thirteen years old) could scarcely be repaired and made fit for anything. The people admit this unanimously, and I could count on about $9,000 for the church and residence for the priest. The cost for both would be about $15,000 or $16,000. Your Grace knows the place and its surroundings, and I would be glad to have advice."

In November of 1878 partial paralysis obliged this great missionary priest to be sent from Old Bohemia to Frederick, Maryland, where he would be free from active duty. But a life of leisure did not suit his temperament, so, having received relief from his infirmity by electrical treatment, he begged to be sent to Conewago, the scene of his earlier labors in the ministry and also of a polemical triumph over advesaries of the Faith. Father Villiger died at Conewago, September 20, 1882, at the age of seventy-four.


1876--1885.George S. Bradford (1876-1880 from Chestertown)
(1880-1884 from Dover)
(1884-1885 at Galena)
George Stevens Bradford was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on August 28,1847, a son of James and Katherine (Keenan) Bradford. His father was founder of the Bradford paint manufacturing establishment, and donor of the lot on which St. James Church was built.  George Bradford was educated in the schools ofWilmington. At a young age, he entered St. Francis' College, Loretta, Pennsylvania. On December 10, 1870, he enrolled at the Jesuit seminary at Louvain, Belgium where he studied philosophy. After a year, he was transferred to the Sulpician Seminary at Orleans, France. Returning to Delaware in 1875 he studied theology for one year under the direction of Bishop Becker. He was ordained to the priesthood along with P. W. Hochkeppel, at St. Peter's Pro-Cathedral, on August 15, 1876.

His first assignment was to Chestertown where he built a new church in 1878. He attended Georgetown Crossroads, Eastern Neck at Bennett Willson's, with Church Hill as a mission, where he also built a new church in 1879. In 1880 he became pastor of Holy Cross, Dover, and from there ministered to Smyrna, Rehoboth, Salisbury, and Ocean City. As pastor of Dover his charge included Galena, Maryland.  In 1881 he purchased a Methodist Church in Galena, which became the second St. Dennis Church there.

In 1883 he purchased a Presbyterian Church in Smyrna which became St. Polycarp's. In 1884, he was again given the charge of Chestertown, Rock Hall, Church Hill and Galena. He was made pastor of St. Patrick's, Wilmington in 1886. There he began the parochial school in the basement of the church. He remained in that post until November of 1893 when, because of failing health, he sailed from New York to New Orleans, and from there to southern California, where he remained for six months. When he returned in 1894, he was given charge of Elkton, Chesapeake City and North East. In April, 1895 he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph's on the Brandywine.

Suffering mainly from Bright's disease, he lingered in a critical condition for weeks till finally he breathed his last at his family home at DuPont's bank on June 20, 1895. He was 47 years of age and 19 years a priest. From earliest years he had been studious and self-denying. Even in the darkest hours of suffering he showed a bright and hospitable disposition. Bishop Curtis celebrated Requiem Mass and delivered his eulogy at St.Joseph-on-the-Brandywine, on June 24, 1894. Interment was made at Cathedral Cemetery, Wilmington.

1885--1887.......Dennis J. Flynn (at Galena)

Dennis J. Flynn was born near Louisville, Kentucky, on September i7, 1856, a son of David and Mary Flynn. He made his preliminary studies in the parochial schools and St. Xavier's Institute of that city. Then he enrolled at Mount St. Mary's, Emmitsburg, Maryland. He was ordained for the priesthood for the Diocese of Wilmington by Bishop Thomas A. Becker, in St. Peter's Pro-Cathedral, June 23, 1883. He was first assigned to St. Mary's, Wilmington, as assistant to Father Reilly.

In 1885, he was made pastor of St. Dennis, Galena, Maryland. So popular was he in Wilmington and in the Diocese that in 1891 Bishop Curtis announced a fundraising contest between Father Flynn and Father Bermingham, another immensly popular priest, with the prize of a trip to Europe for the winner. So close was the contest, and so successful was the fundraising venture, that the bishop ended up sending both to Europe.

In 1894 Father Flynn was appointed pastor of St. Patrick's, Wilmington. There he took a great interest in Catholic education, and built St. Patrick's parochiol school. By his zealous labors and magnetic eloquence, he became known far and wide. When he had made other improvements in St. Patrick's parish, he decided to follow his intense desire to devote himself exclusively to teaching. With Bishop Monaghan's permission, he became a professor at Mount St. Mary's, filling successfully the chairs of Latin, Greek, and Moral Theology. In 1904 he was elected vice president and treasurer. In 1905 he was elected fifteenth president of the college. During his administration were begun and completed the new seminary and the new church.

The greatest event in his term in office was the celebration of the centenary of the college in 1908. He returned to Wilmington frequently as a speaker. He preached the sermon at the rededication of St. Mary's, Wilmington, on December 8, 1907. In recognition of his great services to religion and education, in 1910, Pope Pius X made him a Roman Prelate with the title of Monsignor. His naturally robust constution was spent by labors, and after some time spent in search of health, he returned too Mount St. Mary's and died there on July 7, 1911.Cardinal Gibbons celebrated a potifical Mass at the College Church. Interment was made in the graveyard on the hill, Mount St. Mary's, Emmitsburg.



1887--1890.......James A. Murphy (at Galena)

James A. Murphy was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1849, the son of Cornelius and Hannah Murphy. He attended St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, and the Passionist Seminary in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was ordained to the priesthood as Father Jerome, C. P., by Bishop S. V. Ryan, in St. Mary's Monastery Church, Dunkirk, New York, on September 22, 1879.

Within two years after ordination, he left the Passionist Order, and served as fifth pastor of St. Peter's Church, Jersey City, New Jersey, until 1887. He was recieved into the Diocese of Wilmington by Bishop Curtis on February 10, 1887, and appointed pastor of Chestertown, with Rock Hall and Galena as missions, a charge he filled until 1890. While at Chestertown, he collected enough funds to warrant construction of a church at Rock Hall and with help from Bishop Curtis, he paid off the balance of the debt at Galena. On October 5, 1890, he succeeded  Father Carey as pastor at Elkton, Maryland.

At Christmas time in 1892, he was taken with the grippe, and on New Year's Eve he arose from his bed to attend a sick call at Fair Hill, and upon his return said a Mass on New Year's Day, although extremely ill. His condition grew rapidly worse. After Bishop Curtis administered last rites to him, he died early in the morning of Friday, January 8, 1892, at the age of 42.  Solemn Requiem Mass was offered at Immaculate Conception Church by Father John D. Carey, with Father William Bermingham as deacon, and Father James Farley as sub-deacon.  He was buried from St. Michael's Church, Jersey City, on January 11, 1892. Interment was made in Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City.

1890--1895.......Francis J. Connelly (1890-1892 from Chestertown)
(1892-1895 at Galena)
When Father Murphy was transferred to Elkton, he was succeeded as pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Chestertown, by Father Francis J. Connelly; and it was in this capacity that Father Connelly also took charge of St. Dennis.

Francis J. Connelly was born April 26, 1858, at Wilmington, Delaware, a son of Thomas J. and Mary E. Connelly.  He attended St. Michael's Parochiol School and the preparatory department of St. Charles' Seminary--both in Philadelphia.  He then continued his studies for the priesthood at St. Bonaventure's Seminary, Allegany, New York, and then at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore.   He was ordained to the priesthood in the Baltimore Cathedral, April 14, 1887, by Cardinal Gibbons.

Father Connelly began his first assignmenton June 18, 1887 as assistant to Father Lyons at St. Peter's Cathedral, Wilmington.  On December 31 of that same year he was appointed pastor Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Easton, Maryland, which appointment included Missions at Cambridge, Golden Hill and Secretary. On October 6, 1889, he was transferred to Holy Cross, Dover, Delaware, from where his missionary labors extended to Smyrna, Magnolia, and Seaford in Delaware; Salisbury, Westover, Crisfield, and Princess Ann in Maryland, and Cape Charles, Virginia.

On October 5, 1890, he went to Sacred Heart, Chestertown, which appointment included Galena, Rock Hall and Still Pond--all in Maryland. While stationed at Chestertown constuction of St. John's Church at Rock Hall was completed in 1890 and dedicated on November 23 of that year by Bishop Curtis.

He remained pastor at Galena until1895 when he was transferred to St. John's, Hockessin, Delaware.  He remained pastor at Hockessin until transferred, October 13, 1900, to St. Anne's, Wilmington, where he stayed until he retired, March 12, 1933, at the age of seventy-four.

During almost thirty-three years at St. Anne's, Father Connelly effected many notable accomplishments.  He had the church completely refurbished and decorated, installing electric lighting, oil burners, and new stone steps for the front entrance to the church.  He built the convent in 1910.  He witnessed the development of St. Anne's into one of the most important parishes in the Diocese of Wilmington.

Ill for some time after retiring, Father Connelly was living with a nephew at Melrose Park, Philadelphia, when he died at the age of seventy-six, March 12, 1935--exactly two years from the day he retired.

Father Connelly was buried from St. Anne's Church, March 18, 1935--the day after St. Anne's reconstructured church was dedicated. Bishop Fitz-Maurice was celebrant, assisted by Monsignor Dougherty, Vicar General.  Father Campbell of St. Mary's, and Father Sweeny of St. Patrick's were deacons of honor.  Father Temple of St. Elizabeth's was deacon of the Mass, and Father Crowley, of New Castle, sub-deacon.  Father Sheehy, Chancellor, was Master of Ceromonies, assisted by Father Dryer, assistant at St. Anne's.  Father John N. Dougherty, of St. Thomas', preached the sermon.  Monsignor Dougherty, Father Brennan, of St. Joseph's on the Brandywine, and Father Grant, of Hockessin, led the priests in the recitation of the office for the dead.  Father Irwin, of Easton, and Father Tucker, O.S.F.S., of St. Anthony's were chanters.  Honorary pallbearers were Fathers Mealy, Arndt, Gulez, Lynch, Lee, and Walsh of Galena.  Burial was in the family plot at Cathedral Cemetery in Wilmington.

1895--1897.......Peter J. Hughes (at Galena)
Born December 1, 1870, in English Townland, County Tyrone, Ireland, Peter James Hughes was the son of Felix and Mary Hughes. In Ireland he attended the National schools. Coming with his parents to this country at an early age, he was an altar boy at the Church of the Annunciation in Philadelphia and attended the Christian Brother's School at St. Paul's Parish in that same city.

He began his studies for the priesthood at St. Charles' College, Ellicott City, Maryland, in September of 1884.  He studied philosophy and theology at St. Mary's Seminary, in Baltimore, and was ordained June 20, 1895, in the Baltimore Cathedral by Bishop Curtis.  He offered his first Solemn High Mass in his parish Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia on June 23.

Father Hughes'  first appointment was to St. Dennis Church, Galena, Maryland. He remained there for more than two years. Then, in September of 1897, he was transferred to St. Anne's, Wilmington, to be assistant to Father Peter Donaghy. Always very active and energetic, he took an important part in raising funds for St. Anne's Parochial School.

In July of 1899, he was summoned by Bishop Monaghan to be one of his assistants in the administration of St. Paul's--at that time the largest parish in the Diocese of Wilmington.  He labored at St. Paul's with tireless zeal among all classes of people for more than four years.  Though suffering from lung trouble for more than two years, he insisted on remaining at his post until forced to retire from the active ministry in November of 1903--eight months before he died. For those eight months he lived with his sisters until his death on Sunday morning, September 24, 1904, at the age of thirty-three.

As soon as Bishop Monaghan learned of Father Hughes' death, he went to Philadelphia to console the stricken family and to make arrangements for the funeral.  Then, on Wednesday afternoon the bishop and a large number of his priests escorted Father Hughes' body on the train from Philadelphia to Wilmington. On the train's arrival in Wilmington, St. Paul's Holy Name Society, the Aloysius Society, the Brownson Library Association, and the Knights of Columbus escorted Father Hughes' body from the Pennsylvania Station to St. Paul's Church where it lay in state until the funeral services on Thursday morning.

One of the most popular priests in the Wilmington Diocese, Father Hughes' funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Wilmington.  Several thousand people came out for the funeral, with the result that the church was packed to overflowing, as were the sidewalks outside the church. Bishop Monaghan was celebrant, and he also preached an impressive sermon.  Assistant to the Bishop was Father George Kelly, of St. Mary's.  Deacons of honor were Fathers John Connelly of St. Thomas', and James Comiskey, of Centerville, Maryland.  Father Thomas Horan, of Columbus, Ohio, was deacon of the Mass, and Father Lawrence McNamara of Baltimore, sub-deacon.  Masters of Ceremonies were Fathers Higgins of St. Paul's, and McVeigh, of St. Peter's Cathedral.  Father Hugo Paff, O.S.B., directed the priests' choir, and Will M.S. Brown was organist.  Honorary pallbearers were Fathers Connelly, Comiskey, James McSweeny, Edward McVeigh,Edward Higgins, and James McKenna.

After the funeral services, more than three thousand people accompanied Father Hughes' body to the Pennsylvania Station and remained until the train pulled away.  Two carloads of priests, relatives, and friends continued on to Darby, Pennsylvania, where carriages were waiting to take the funeral party to Holy Cross Cemetery. There, all that was mortal of the beloved, young assistant priest of St. Paul's, and the ninth pastor of St. Dennis' Parish, was laid to rest in the Hughes' family plot.

1897--1900.......Miles J. McManus (either at Galena or from Chestertown)
Miles Joseph McManus was born in Plains Township, near Wilkes Barre, Pensylvania, on September 19, 1864, a son of Owen and Catherine (Callahan) McManus. Up to 1881, he went to school in Wilkes-Barre and worked in the mines. In September, 1881 he entered Niagra College. In 1884, he attended the College of the Franciscan Brothers in Lorretta, Pennsylvania, and in 1888 went to Brooklyn to study philosophy at St. Francis College. In September, 1888, he entered St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore as a first theologian.

He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Wilmington in January or February, 1892, by Bishop Alfred Curtis, at the Baltimore Cathedral.  He was assigned as pastor of Port Depsit, with Missions at Conowingo and Rising Sun. In 1894, he was pastor of Holy Cross, Dover, with Magnolia, Milford and Georgetown as missions. In 1896 he was appointed pastor of St. Mary's, Wilmington. In 1898, he became pastor ot. Dennis, Galena, Maryland.

From 1901 to 1903 he was in the Diocese of Scranton.  He returned to St. Teresa's, Port Deposit in 1903 and served there as pastor for twenty-two more years.  In 1925, he retired and lived at Havre de Grace, Maryland. At his home there, he died suddenly on June 26, 1934.  He was 68 years old.

1900--1927.......John A. Daly (1900-1901 from Old Bohemia)
(1901-1927 at Galena)
John Aloysius Daly was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, on May 25, 1841.  In 1848, he came with his parents to settle in St. John's, New Brunswick. Around 1851, they moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and there they made their home. John took his classical course at Baltimore's Loyola College from 1856 to 1861.  Afterwards, he taught in Gonzaga College for one year, and then for several years at different schools and private homes.

He entered his first year of theology on March 1, 1886, at St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore. He was ordained deacon by Bishop Alfred Curtis, on June 19, 1888, and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Wilmington, at 47 years of age, by Cardinal James Gibbons, at the Baltimore Cathedral.

His first assignment was as pastor of St. Paul's, Delaware City, where he also served as chaplain to the Protectorate at Reybold.  In 1898, he was appointed pastor of Old Bohemia Church with St. Joseph's, Middletown, as his mission. Father Daly was the first diocesan priest to follow the Jesuits as pastors of St. Francis Xavier, Old Bohemia.  In 1900, he was made pastor of St. Dennis, Galena, where he served for 27 years.  In 1927, he was appointed chaplain at St. James Protectory, Reybold, where he served another 7 years.  He was able to attend to his priestly duties to the last.  After only an illness of one week, he died at St. James Protectory, on Saturday, May 13, 1933.  He was 92 years of age, and 45 years a priest.  Bishop FitzMaurice celebrated a Pontifical Mass on May 17, 1933. Interment was made at Cathedral Cemetery, Wilmington.




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