Holyoke Church Pastor’s Death

by Laurel | March 13th, 2013

13 March 1919

Rev. P. B. Phelan

Rev. P. B. Phelan

Rev P. B. Phelan of Sacred Heart Parish Passes Away After Three Weeks’ Illness

Ordained in 1872 — Located at the Cathedral Fve Years — Had Done Much for Holyoke Parish

Holyoke, March 12 — Rev. P. B. Phelan, the venerable and beloved pastor of the Sacred Heart Church, died at the church rectory late this evening after a three weeks illness. For 39 years Father Phelan has been rector of the parish and had conducted it wisely and well. The parish has prospered under his care and he instituted schools and made improvements to the church property. Only three or four years ago the interior of the church was entirely decorated, the work being done by a well-known artist, whom he sent to Italy to make copies of famous paintings.

His successful fight for more than 20 years to keep the saloon from encroaching on his parish is well known throughout the city. He also spent a great deal of time over Calvary Cemetery, the cemetery having been enlarged and placed in splendid condition. His love for the children was well known and he took great interest in the conduct of his parochial schools. Only a few years ago a high school was established in the Sacred Heart Parish.

Father Phelan established a scholarship at Holy Cross college and gave $16,000, the purpose of which was to give scholarship to pupils from the Sacred Heart School. At the time this gift was made it was the largest personal gift that the college had received. Father Phelan was loved and respected by the whole city. He was a friendly man, was always glad to stop and talk with friends and acquaintances and was interested in all civic enterprises.

He was a native of St. Johns, Newfoundland, where he was born in 1746. The family moved to Worcester in 1849, where he attended the public schools, and in 1866 he entered Holy Cross College, where he showed remarkable aptitude, completing the four years’ course in three years. A number of years ago the college conferred upon him the degree of doctor of divinity. He received his training for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary at Troy, N.Y., and was ordained May 25, 1872.

Following his ordination, his first appointment was as assistant to Mgr. P. J. Harkins of St. Jerome’s Church of this city, from 1873 to 1878, he was at the Cathedral in Springfield. During the latter year he was sent to West Springfield and Mittineague. On the death of Rev. James T. Sheehan, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, in 1880, he came to the parish, and in 1897, at the celebration of the 25th anniversary of his ordination, he was permanent rector. On May 25, 1909 there was a celebration of his 37th anniversary, which was attended by the bishop and clergymen from all over the diocese.

He celebrated his last mass the last Sunday in February. He was taken ill the day following and had failed steadily since that time. his loss will be keenly felt in Holyoke, as well as throughout the diocese where he was widely acquainted. He leaves one sister Bridgid Phelan, who lived at the rectory, and is ill at the present time. Another sister died at Worcester about two weeks ago, Rev. John L. Phelan of Whitinsville is a nephew, and Father Phelan leaves a number of other nephews and nieces.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.


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