Written by Joseph P. Heenan
The first appearance of the title “Chaplain” of the Philadelphia Friendly Sons of St. Patrick appears at the anniversary dinner of March 17, 1807 and was assigned to Reverend Matthew Carr, D. D., O. S. A.,
After his arrival he was stationed at St. Joseph’s Church, Wiling’s Alley, where he officiated as pastor of St. Joseph Church (first Catholic Church founded in Philadelphia), St. Mary Church (second Catholic Church and first Cathedral founded in Philadelphia) and St. Augustine Church (the original St Augustine housed the Liberty Bell’s “Sister Bell”; the church was burned down in the anti-Catholic Philadelphia Nativist Riots on May 8, 1844). He was Vicar-General of Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey under the first Catholic Bishop in the United States, Right-Reverend John Carroll, of Baltimore, Md., from 1799 to 1803. Father Carr was an eminent and useful citizen of Philadelphia. He was a musician and orator, and learned in sacred and profane literature. He was the founder of St. Augustine’s Academy, on Crown Street, one of the earliest boarding schools or colleges in the United States, and was one of the teachers from 1810 to 1814. He was also the founder and first pastor of St. Augustine’s Church, Fourth Street, above Race. In 1814, when Philadelphia was threatened with invasion by the British fleet, Father Carr was one of those who aided in raising fortifications at Red Bank to resist them. After a long life of activity and usefulness, he died September 29, 1820, respected by all who knew him, and was buried in the Vault at St. Augustine’s Church. Dr. Carr took an active interest in the Society and served as one of its “Chaplains” in 1797, 1807, 1818 and 1819. When Reverend Matthew Carr, O.S.A. (1755-1820) began the Augustinian community in Philadelphia he did more than just create St. Augustine’s Church. Father Carr also had the goal to provide education for young men where the classical sciences would be taught alongside instruction in Holy Faith. St. Augustine’s Academy was a boys’ school that opened on the grounds of the church in 1811, and that was where the roots of Villanova University were planted.
Reverend Michael Hurley, O.S.A. was ” Chaplain ” of the Society, 1809-1813. Rev. Hurley studied at Viterbo among the Augustinians, was ordained there, returned to the United States and was stationed in Philadelphia as curate of St. Augustine’s Church under Dr. Carr. His first ministration of baptism, as per church registries, appears September 26, 1803; first marriage, December 22, 1803. This was at St. Augustine’s Church. He also ministered at St. Joseph’s Church, Willing’s Alley. In 1807 he was Secretary of the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Church, and in the same year was one of the main supports of St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum. He got the Sisters of Charity from Mother Seton to take charge of this asylum. He was connected with St. Augustine’s Academy on Fourth Street, a literary and ecclesiastical institution, which received pupils to be educated in arts and sciences.
He is not known to have published any books, as nearly all the church records of St. Augustine’s were destroyed or lost during the riots of 1844.
During the Cholera of 1832 Dr. Hurley turned the convent and schools of St. Augustine’s into a hospital, with the Sisters of Charity as nurses, they had 370 patients, of who 63 were Catholics. Dr. Hurley died May 14, 1837, at St. Augustine’s convent on Crown Street, and was buried in the vault at St. Augustine’s reserved for members of his Order. He was 56 years of age.
On March 17, 1818, we find Rev. Dr. Carr and Rev. Dr. Potts named as chaplains.
Rev. George Charles Potts, D. D., Emigrated from Ireland towards the close of the last century. He had been a licentiate of the Presbytery of New Castle, Delaware when he was then ordained and installed as the first pastor of
The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, May 22, 1800. This church had been founded by a score of Irishmen in June, of 1799.
Rev. Dr. Potts was an active member of the Hibernian Society,
On March 17, 1827, the Chaplains selected were Reverend Dr. George C. Potts and Reverend Dr. Samuel B. Wylie.
Rev. Samuel Brown Wylie, D. D., was born May 21, 1773, at Moylarg, near Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, came to United States (New Castle, Del. in October 18, 1797, and settled in Philadelphia, October 31. 1797. he was a teacher in a private academy in Philadelphia, and afterwards was Professor of Theology in the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. He was also Professor of Languages in the University of Pennsylvania, and Vice-Provost and Emeritus Professor of that institution. He wrote “Two Sons of Oil”, “Covenanting”, ” Greek Grammar”, “Life of Dr. Alexander McLeod”, and contributed to numerous papers and periodicals. He died October 13, 1852, and was buried in Woodlands cemetery. He was pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church for many years. (See also Rev. John Chambers)
On March 17, 1835, three chaplains were elected,
Rev. George C. Potts, Rev. Samuel B. Wylie and Rev. John Hughes.
Rev. John Hughes would go on to be referred to as “Dagger John”.
The old chaplains were re-elected on March 17, 1838, excepting that
Rev. Edward Barron was chosen one of the chaplains, in place of
Rev. John Hughes who was now stationed in New York.
John Joseph Hughes (June 24, 1797 – January 3, 1864) was an Irish-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. He was the fourth Bishop and first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, serving between 1842 and his death in 1864, and founded Fordham University in 1841.
A native of Ireland, Hughes was born and raised in the south of County Tyrone. He emigrated to the United States in 1817, and became a priest in 1826 and a bishop in 1838. A figure of national prominence, he exercised great moral and social influence, and presided over a period of explosive growth for Catholicism in New York. He was regarded as “the best known, if not exactly the best loved, Catholic bishop in the country. He became known as “Dagger John”, both for his following the Catholic practice wherein a bishop precedes his signature with a cross, as well as for his aggressive personality. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Rev. Edward Barron, D. D., elected Chaplain March 17, 1838
Rev. Edward Barron, a missionary, born at Waterford, Ireland, 1801; died at Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A. 12 Sept., 1854. His ecclesiastical studies were made at the Propaganda College, Rome, where he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Several years were then spent in Ireland, after which he volunteered for the missions in the United States attaching himself to the Diocese of Philadelphia, where he became in time pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Philadelphia, President of St. Charles Borromeo’s Theological Seminary, and then Vicar-General of the Diocese. When in 1840 the Holy See requested the American bishops to care for the Negro Catholics of Liberia, Africa, he offered his services with those of the Rev. John Kelly of New York, and left Baltimore, 21 Dec. 1841, for Cape Mesurado. The work there was successful at first, and so Barron returned to Europe and the United States for more help. While in Rome he was consecrated, 22 Jan. 1842, titular Bishop of Constantia and Vicar
Apostolic of the two Guineas. He returned to Africa, 30 Nov. 1843, with several missionaries of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and continued his labors in the mission until 1845, when he was forced by fever he had contracted to resign his vicariate and to return to the United States. Here, as far as his impaired health allowed, he again took up the duties of a missionary priest and assisted in the work of the episcopate in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Florida. He died of yellow fever at Savannah while helping the bishop of that see during an epidemic.
March 18, 1867. Rev. John Chambers, D. D., acted as Chaplain.
Philadelphia, Chambers-Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Church
According to the Historical Directory of Presbyterian Churches and Presbyteries of Greater Philadelphia: Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its Antecedents, 1690-1990, by Kenneth A. Hammonds, the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was organized in 1798 by the Reformed Presbyterian Church denomination. Samuel B. Wylie served as its pastor from 1803 to 1852. In 1868, the congregation split. Part continued as First Reformed Presbyterian Church, and part left the Reformed Presbyterian denomination and continued as an independent ministry until 1885, when it united with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. under the name Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Church. Chambers Church was created when members of Ninth Presbyterian Church affirmed their call to the minister John Chambers and took the name First Independent Church of Philadelphia. Chambers-Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Church was organized in 1897 through the uniting of the Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Church and Chambers Church/First Independent Church of Philadelphia. In 1948, a trial merger was proposed between the First, Second, and Chambers-Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Churches in Philadelphia. While First and Second united, after the initial trial period the Chambers-Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Church remained separate. The congregation was dissolved in 2000.
An explanation of the term “Chaplain of the Society,” used for many years in the minutes, appears in the following action at the meeting of December 17, 1839: The charter recognizing no officers of the denomination of “Chaplains,” and the Society ever having held itself free from all sectarian, religious or political influences, the Meeting conceived it improper to go into any nominations of that nature; however, as the members of the Society on former occasions have been in the habit of signifying at the annual elections their wish that several Reverend gentlemen should be invited to officiate in the capacity of Chaplains at our annual celebrations, the following named were submitted, from which the members are requested to select, on the day of the election, such three, as they may desire to have invited on such occasions: —Reverend Samuel B. Wylie, D. D.; Reverend Edward Barron, D. D.; Reverend Alexander Macklin; Reverend P.E. Moriarty, D.D.; and the Reverend William Loughbridge.
References: Friendly Sons of St. Patrick – Philadelphia record books and Villanova University Falvey Memorial Library