Father Kelly's Pastoral Report On St. Joseph's Parish Summit Hill, Sept. 7th, 1872

This report on the state of St. Joseph's Parish appeared in the Catholic Herald edition of September 7, 1872. Fr. Kelly states how he expanded the Church by 21 pews, enclosed the cemetery with a wall tripling its size, and tempest proofed the roof of the Church and rectory. He continues:

"The Catholic souls in this place now number about 1900, the old people being mostly from Donegal and Derry in the north of Ireland. The baptisms for 11 years average 85 yearly and the marriages eleven. By special dispensation, the pastor celebrates two Masses on Sundays and holy days."

"A total Abstinence Benevolent Society was established here in 1868, and has worked a great improvement in the habits of the people. It numbers some of the 200 of our best men and is not likely to decrease in numbers and influence for the good."

"For eleven years, if not from the outset, for various reasons, among which are strikes in the latter years, and the want in winter of an outlet for the shipment of coal, the men have not had employment for more than six months of the year, hence their comparative poverty and consequences."

"A few persons still remaining here who left Ireland in the years of straws and cholera, remember Father Courtenay and his making some parties, who had been before Squire Holland, renew their matrimonial consent. They also remember how Mr. Barnes, an Irish Calvinist, if not an Orangeman also, refused the key in 1843 of the old school house to Father Malloney to celebrate Mass there as had been usual, and how this discourtesy led to the application to the company (Lehigh Coal and Navigation) for ground for the Church. Mr. Barnes' unhappy death near Tamaqua, some years ago, is connected here by the simple people with this act of bigotry and intolerance, if not as its effect, at least as its punishment."

"Soon after the coal was found here, a few distinguished men form the North of Ireland became contractors for the Lehigh Coal and Navigation here. They attracted their countrymen, Catholics and Protestants, nearly in equal numbers to the Summit. The Welsh bosses and miners, now the power here, are a much later importation. Old Mr. McLane from Derry has been the company's superintendent for years, still remains wonderfully fresh for his years, and is a connecting link to the days when the men were paid their wages in company script and the 'giggers' of bad whiskey, and the present better times when the company can well afford, and is trying to be honest and impartial."

"The present pastor has had all his skill and tact called into exercise from time to time by the Mollies, the Fenians, the Temperance politicians, and the old WBA strikers. But it is acknowledged generally now, if some evils do remain there are happier, brighter times before the good people. Ex uno disce omnes."

Fr. Kelly left St. Joseph's Summit Hill November 20th, 1872. His last Baptism was on the 18th, and he entered in the record that he had received the Bishop's letter dated the 1st announcing the selection of Fr. McElroy as Pastor of Summit. Fr. Kelly was granted a two month vacation as had been recommended by Dr. Thomison the previous August.


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