The history of a parish includes the establishment of a place of worship, the buildings that are added, important dates and the pastors, priests and religious who served. Additionally, it is a collection of stories, memories and legendary anecdotes. Because of this wonderful mix of fact and remembrance, this is some of the history and is a part of the on-going record of the Church of St. Patrick and Our Lady of the Lake.
Much has been already written of the early days of the parish. As early as 1816, Mass was being celebrated for the 14 families in the Newburgh area. It wasn’t until 1836 that the parish was established and Father Patrick Duffy, an immigrant priest from Ireland, was appointed pastor.
The first pastors were men of vision and trust. Their parishioners had to sacrifice much for the establishment and growth of their parish. In just over sixty years, the church was built and later enlarged, a school was established in the church basement and two cemeteries were consecrated. A rectory and Columbus Hall were built. The Church of St. Joseph was started to serve the people in the New Windsor area. The girls’ school was built and staffed by the Sisters of Charity and later by the Dominican Sisters of Newburgh. The boys’ school was erected and run by the Christian Brothers.
In 1914, after having served as a young priest at St. Patrick’s, Monsignor Henry O’Carroll returned as pastor and thus began his 43 years as shepherd of his flock in Newburgh. During his time, a new church tower was erected, three new marble altars were installed and the cornerstone for Our Lady of the Lake was blessed. The Wheelman Building was purchased for the establishment of St. Patrick’s High School for young men and buildings were acquired to house the staff of the three schools. Many of our life-long parishioners would be able to regale charming stories of the pastor who was both stern and loving. A trout fisherman of historic legend, his real calling was to be a "fisher of men." Monsignor O’Carroll’s death on May 7, 1957 left the congregation without the spiritual rock who had led them through two world wars, the great depression and the Cold War. He was an honored clergyman of the Archdiocese, the "first citizen of Newburgh", but most of all a simple priest from County Kerry who loved his God and his people beyond all else.
In 1957, a new elementary school housing both male and female students was built and the high school was renovated under the leadership of Monsignor Francis Doersam.
In the 1960’s, Father John Filippelli was an instructor at Epiphany College. Eventually he began hearing the confessions of the Spanish speaking boarders from the surrounding colleges and academies. He soon became well known throughout the Spanish speaking community and was contacted for weddings, confessions and the celebration of Mass.
In 1962, Monsignor William J. Guinan, the new pastor was faced with a changing culture in the city and the challenge of a post Vatican II Church. With his never ending energy and his jovial personality, he was instrumental in helping his parishioners and his Newburgh neighbors trust in the parish and the city.
During 1962, Father Filippelli approached Monsignor Guinan and brought to his attention that the number of the Spanish families had grown. Latin was the primary language for Mass. Father Filippelli was directed to preach both in English and Spanish on Sundays. However, the use of both languages at Mass proved difficult for both English and Spanish speaking parishioners. Around this time, the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Redeemer from Spain arrived. A farm in Cornwall NY was donated by Dr. Stillman. This became the Sisters' residence and served as the first Hispanic Center. During this time, efforts were made to improve Our Lady of the Lake and additional masses were added to accommodate the increased attendance.
In 1963, the massive restoration of St. Patrick’s was begun. Parishioners will remember mass in the school gym for two years until the new church was completed. The first mass celebrated was Midnight Mass, 1965. The new Church retained the two St. Patrick's windows from the old Church, and created a new, simple and sacred place of worship. Parishioners donated many beautiful items, including stained glass windows, and the Stations of the Cross.
In 1966, the first Parish Council was formed. Committees were started such as Pro Life, Liturgy and Finance. The directives of the Second Vatican Council saw the start of lectors and eucharistic ministers drawn from the laity. Father Filippelli approached the new pastor, Bishop John Fearns, informing him that the use of the vernacular was necessary due to the increase of Spanish speaking parishioners. It was approved and a Mass in Spanish was incorporated.
In 1972, when Monsignor Philip J. Murphy was made pastor, population shifts had occurred in Newburgh. It was economically necessary to close the school and convent and place the parish's efforts on a growing religious education program. The Diaconate was established and continues to be a vital addition to our parish ministry. Father Filippelli was succeeded by Father Neil Graham, who continued with the previous ministry and was assisted by the Daughters of Jesus. With the aid of the Sisters and several parishioners, Father Graham organized home visitations to further the teaching of religious education.
In 1973, Father Rogelio Cuesta, O.P. was named Director of the Hispanic Apostolate of Newburgh and Beacon. The Daughters of Jesus and Father Cuesta formed the pastoral crew. They initiated the Charismatic Prayer Group, bible classes, and the program of Luz y Vida of Monsignor Garmendia.
In 1976, the Hispanic Center moved from Cornwall to Newburgh and St. Patrick’s School became the new location for the Hispanic Religious Education Program.
In 1977, four African American families attended Our Lady of the Lake. The men were New York City Police Officers who had relocated from New York City to the Town of Newburgh. Many other African Americans joined them at Our Lady of the Lake.
In 1978, Father Tomas B. Fenlon became the director of the Hispanic Apostolate of Newburgh and Beacon. Father Fenlon started the “Comite de Servicio” with the assistance of the Daughters of Jesus. Together, their pastoral team brought religious instruction to a new level. They initiated the Renew Program, introduced Palm Sunday processions, Seder Dinner during Holy Week, processions visiting all churches and the reenactment of the Stations of the Cross. Father Fenlon added the celebrations of other Patron Feast Days for Argentina, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and Peru. He also continued the Puerto Rican celebration of St. John the Baptist.
In 1979, Auxiliary Bishop Most Reverend Austin B. Vaughn was appointed pastor, adding an administrator in the person of Father Donald Whelan. New enthusiasm became evident under the guidance of the Bishop whose cherub-like smile greeted everyone. Liturgies were enhanced by the ceaseless energy of Father Whalen. The Christian Brothers' residence was re-opened to house three Dominican Sisters. Repairs were accomplished in the church, the chapel and the rectory. Both inside and outside had a new face. The parishioners’ memories would no doubt include Father Whelan's dog, Maccuchhla, who often sat in on marriage and baptismal preparations. In 1983, the soup kitchen was established and continues to operate today. During his tenure Bishop Vaughn
was a proponent of the Respect Life Movement. At the suggestion of Cardinal O’Connor African American participation started as lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, altar servers and ushers. A diverse group of parishioners began to work together to form a united group of cooperation. From this unity the St. Martin de Porres Society was formed.
In 1982, the first African American was elected to the parish council and later became its President. Several African American members were elected or appointed to the Parish Council.
In 1986, Bishop Vaughan invited Father John Budwick to come to St. Patrick's as a new administrator because of his dedication to spirituality and the poor. In 1991, he became the Pastor and in 1995 he was made a Monsignor.
During his tenure a daily holy hour and morning prayer were added. Also established was a monthly healing mass, RCIA, the bereavement team, the Father Whelan Scholarship Fund, providing funds for those seeking higher education, and we became a Renew Parish. Parishioners will remember his horticultural talents, both inside (Bishop Vaughan often referred to it as the "jungle") and outside. The geraniums over the front door of the rectory, the gardens along the alley-way and next to the rectory added to the beauty of our down-town parish.
At the same time, a group of men from Our Lady of the Lake asked if they could work on beautifying the chapel. Stain-glass windows were hand created, wood paneling, a new pulpit, and the shelf for the tabernacle were made. From Mass celebrated at O'Malley's boat house for summer vacationers in the early 20th century to five masses, the growth of the chapel is tremendous.
Monsignor Budwick was a masterful fund raiser - whether working on a capital campaign or walking miles for pledges. His efforts provided the means for projects such as a new roof on the school and gym, new sound systems in both churches, a new fence and repair of damaged stones in St. Patrick's Cemetery and road repair at Calvary Cemetery.
He recognized the gifts of the laity. He was particularly in tune with the place of women in the Church allowing for female altar servers and encouraging eucharistic ministers and lectors.
During this time, the African American parishioners established the Black Ministry and began to offer spiritual guidance to the visitors at the soup kitchen. An office for evangelization was begun. In 1987, the Black Catholic Papal Audience of New Orleans invited the African American liaison members of St. Patrick's Church, under the leadership of Father Sam Taylor, to attend an audience with Pope John Paul II in New Orleans.
A member of the Hispanic Community, became the first Hispanic President of the Parish Council. Father Louis Van Thanh welcomed Asian peoples to our multicultural parish.
In 1988, Father Siquenza was assigned to the Hispanic Apostolate. He was assisted by a Franciscan Sister. The Hispanic Community purchased a large crucifix which was placed behind the altar at St. Patrick’s. Therefore, the small crucifix was placed behind the altar at Our Lady of the Lake.
In 1989, Father Romualdo Zantua joined St. Patrick’s. It was through his efforts that the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City donated an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Patrick’s Church. Additionally, the image of the Crucified Lord, El Señor de los Milagros was donated by the Peruvian community.
In 1993, during the tenure of Father Alfonso Henao the Fellowship of Divino Niño was established and the Puerto Rican Feast of Our Lady of Providence was introduced and two Sisters of the Presentation joined the Hispanic Ministry.
In 2003, Friar Jose McCarthy continued with the previous ministries. In 2004, Monsignor Budwick appointed an African American to be the first Pro Life/Respect for Life coordinator to act as a liaison between the Parish community and the Sisters of Life, the Archdiocesan Respect Life Office. In 2006, Father Tomas Bobadilla expanded the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, established Bible classes and enhanced the dramatization of the Stations of the Cross. He was assisted by a Sister form the Order of Our Lady of Charity.
In January, 2009 Reverend Fernando Hernández was appointed pastor. He is the first pastor of Hispanic descent. While doing his pastoral work for English as well as Spanish speaking parishioners, he manages to be fully active in all major activities. Father Bladi Socualaya came to St. Patrick’s and having studied the Bible extensively,he shares his knowledge teaching Exegesis Bible classes. In 2010 Father Matthew Green joined the Parish Their goal is to unify the African American, English and Hispanic speaking communities.
What started with 14 Irish families and in later years added African Americans parishioners and some from a few Spanish speaking countries and one Priest has expanded tremendously today. We are now blessed with three Spanish and English speaking priests. These dedicated Priests serve all the parishioners of St. Patrick’s Church and Our Lady of the Lake totaling 1,600 adults. The Spanish Mass is attended by 500 to 600 parishioners.
Whether you were Edward Carroll and Christine McDonald who married on September 18, 1837 (one of the first three recorded marriages at St. Patrick’s) or you were Carmen Ramon and Hilergo Flores, a young Spanish-speaking couple from Puerto Rico who wished to marry, the Church of St. Patrick opened her doors. She has celebrated with generations of faithful the joys, fears, happiness and sorrow in their lives. Let us remember those who have gone before us and continue our heritage for those who will follow.
Our community of St. Patrick’s and Our Lady of the Lake strives to be a family, knowing that we are God’s children, created in His image and destined to share His heavenly glory.
Throughout the history of St. Patrick’s there have been different Religious Groups that have been at the core of the spiritual and educational development of our Parish.
We would like to extend our profound gratitude to:
Daughters of Jesus
Dominican Sisters of Newburgh
Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor
Oblate Sisters of the Holy Redeemer
Sisters of Charity
Sisters of Divine Compassion
Sisters of the Presentation
Sisters of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate Sisters of Charity
We recognize the tremendous work and deep commitment of our Deacons:
Reverend William Glover
Reverend Donald Halter
Reverend Frank Russell
Reverend Fred Steup
Reverend George Walsh
Reverend Dennis White