ST. BRIGID'S CHURCH
BUFFALO, NEW YORK

Soon after his arrival in Buffalo, Bishop Timon organized a society of St. Vincent de Paul.  Priests were scarce, and the Bishop set the zealous members of this society at work, assembling on Sundays the scattered Catholic children in the remote parts of the city, to teach them catechism.  Many Irish had settled in the old first ward, near the docks, and the heavy traffic business of the city.  The committee of St. Vincent de Paul members began their work in 1850, in a rented room, which they used as a Sunday School to teach catechism to the children.  A large number of children assembled here every Sunday for catechism.  There were so many Catholics scattered through the district that the Bishop sent a priest on Sundays from the Cathedral to say Mass for the old folks, who could not very well walk to St. Joseph's.

The Bishop appointed the Rev. Charles D. McMullen first pastor, who immediately erected a small frame church 100x40 feet on Fulton Street, on the site of the present convent.  The first baptism recorded is dated February 13, 1853.  Father McMullen soon turned his attention to the establishment of a school.  Protestant societies were reaching out for the Catholic children of the neighborhood, and it was necessary to have a school where the children could get a good primary education and be instructed in the principles of their religion.  The "Sentinel" contains the announcement of a "Tea Party," to be held in Dudley's Hall.  St. Patrick's Day, 1854, to raise money for the proposed school, and the little brick building still exists attached to the larger convent building.  The Sisters of Mercy have had charge of the school since its inception.

The church, which cost $3,000, was poorly constructed, and was condemned as unsafe by the authorities.  The Bishop selected the Rev. Martin O'Connor to erect the new church.  He already had successful experience in church building, and the growing congregation of St. Brigid's demanded a large and imposing edifice.  Father O'Connor came in 1858, and Father McMullen was appointed to Canandaigua.

The cornerstone of the new church was laid by the Bishop in June, 1859.  The building was progressing rapidly, when a fierce hurricane swept over the city, on the evening of October 18, 1859, which blew off the f and demolished the walls.  This misfortune excited the sympathy of the community; and money poured into the hands of the zealous pastor, who immediately started the work again, and he had the church ready for dedication in December of the year following.

Father O'Connor labored here zealously, building up the material part of the parish and striving after the spiritual progress of his people, until he sank to rest December 19, 1870, worn out with toil.  He was of an energetic, nervous temperament; and several of the parish buildings of the diocese owe their existence to his business tack and zeal.

The Rev. James A. Lanigan, who had been assisting Father O'Connor for some months, took charge of the parish for a few weeks until the Very Rev. William Gleason, V.G., was appointed pastor.  Father Gleason, genial and gentle, conducted the affairs of the parish for nearly a quarter of a century.  The spiritual interests of this, one of the most populous English speaking parishes of the city, claimed nearly his whole attention; and many thousands were baptized, confirmed, married or buried under his care; and they all loved the cheery, faithful vicar.  Father Gleason enlarged the priest's house and built a large parochial school.

After Father Gleason's death in December, 1895, the Rev. James E. Quigley was selected as rector; and here he labored until he was appointed the third Bishop of Buffalo.  He had remodeled the house and laid plans for a new school building.  Bishop Quigley was consecrated in February, 1896, and the Very Rev. James A Lanigan, who succeeded Father Gleason as vicar general, was appointed rector of St. Brigid's.

Father Lanigan labored here until his death, August 20, 1912, building up, like his predecessors, the material as well as the spiritual part of the parish.  He built a large school to take care of the numerous children in the parish.  The people are not very wealthy, but they are generous and liberally support the pastor in all his undertakings.

The Rev. Daniel O'Brien came after Father Lanigan's demise and labored faithfully until the death of Father Walsh in February, 1920. when he was transferred to the parish of the Nativity of the B. V. M.

The Rev. Luke F. Sharkey then came to St. Brigid's to carry on the work of the able men who preceded him.



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Holly Timm
Cheektowaga, New York
erie@nygenweb.com