Saint Patrick Parish

       This was not the case at all on the West Side. To be first pastor of Saint Patrick's on Bridge Avenue in 1853 the bishop appointed Father James Conlon, an Irish-born, quiet, conciliatory man whom the bishop seems to have trusted implicitly. Conlon organized his parish as an Irish parish from the very beginning. He encouraged the preservation of Irish culture more by tacit approval than by any other means, but he made it quite clear during the twenty-two years of his pastorate at Saint Patrick's that his people were Irish Catholics. They were not to go to worship at the German Church of Saint Mary's on West 30th Street nearby, nor were they to mingle with their native American neighbors. Above all, Conlon felt, his people were not to marry nor even to, "keep company" (his words) with the Yankees. Catholics were to marry one another. In this he seems to have succeeded; in no year during his pastorate does one find more than two religiously "mixed marriages," in the parish records of St. Patrick.

       At Saint Patrick's there were Irish literary, dramatic, cultural and musical societies as well as a temperance society. There were Irish benevolent societies in the parish as early as 1855, and most importantly perhaps, the people at Saint Patrick's were urged by Conlon to build their church as an exact duplicate of one he had known as a boy in Ireland. It still stands, although Conlon did not live to see it completed, a gaunt high-ceilinged building in sharp architectural contrast with the warm French Gothic .....(continued next page)