History of Holyoke's Churches
St. Jerome's Church
St. Jerome's Church was designed by Mr. Keely. It was built by Capt. Mack of Chicopee. The mason work was done by John Delaney, the brick work by Bosworth & Blodgett, and the carpentry by Patrick Dunn.
Prominent in old St. Jerome's as trustee and otherwise were John Delaney, John Donnelly, and James Doyle.
St. Jerome's Church
Father O'Callaghan died in 1861. He was succeeded by Rev. James C. Sullivan. Until his time the Catholics of Holyoke were accustomed to bury their dead in Chicopee. He procured for them the cemetery of St. Jerome's.
Father Sullivan was a man of gentle disposition. His fear of giving offense made him, at times, timid. He was not strong physically. He was loved by his people, but the work to be done in Holyoke demanded a man of iron constitution, of tireless energy, and of indomitable will. Such a man the archbishop of Boston sent to St. Jerome's in the person of Patrick J. Harkins.
For forty-four years, Father Harkins labored for the spiritual, the moral and the material progress of the Catholic people of Holyoke. He was interested in every movement which made for the betterment of the community, which he loved. But he hated shams, and he denounced hypocrisy. He had some of the roughness of a strong and sincere man. But he never said an unkind word which he did not afterwards recall with regret. He wished to be jut. His frugal habits enabled him to save some money. This he spent or left, as he always told his friends he would spend or leave his property in such a way that it might advance the cause of religion and of charity. But the best that he gave to the catholicity of Holyoke was not his money. It was himself. He recognized that his mission on earth was to help his people to fit themselves for citizenship in the Kingdom of God, and he believed that in fulfilling this mission he was helping them to fit themselves also for citizenship in Holyoke.
The Late Mgr. P.J. Harkins
Father Harkins was of the opinion that sound religious instruction was the basis of enlightened religion and true Americanism, hence the year after he came to Holyoke he made plans for a school for girls. This was opened in 1868 by the Sisters of Notre Dame. This school so flourished that a new home was needed for it. The present girls' school building was completed in 1883. In it nineteen sisters care for 509 children. Farther Harkins established a parochial school for boys in 1872. This was the first boys' school in the diocese of Springfield. It now accommodates 500 pupils. Miss Grace Harkins was the first principal of the boys' school. She was assisted by such able teachers as Muss Kate Harkins, Miss Mary A. Duckford, Miss Hannah E. McCoy, Miss Catherine Holmes, and Miss Margaret Pollet. The Sisters of Providence assumed charge of this school in 1876. It is still under their care.
It was father Harkins, who, in 1873, induced these Sisters to come to Holyoke. It was he who urged them to open first an institution of charity at South Hadley Falls, then a hospital at Holyoke, then the Orphans' Home at Ingleside. His sympathy and assistance were with this great community while he lived, and at his death he left them the means to extend the field of their labors for charity and for God.
Father Harkins would not have been able to accomplish any of his great works were he not seconded by a loyal Christian people. He saw his people advance in material prosperity; he saw many of them occupying positions of honor and responsibility in the community, and his heart was glad, for he realized that the greater their usefulness to their fellow citizens the greater the honor they reflected upon their church. It would be tedious to name all these men. Let the Catholic gentleman, Dr. O'Connor, stand as a representative of the rest.
When, in 1904, Pope Pius X made Father Harkins a Domestic Prelate with the title of Prothonotary Apostolic, it was his intention to reward the religious activities of an earnest Catholic people as well as to crown the labors of the monsignor who was their leader.
Monsignor Harkins died December 4, 1910. He was succeeded by Monsignor Madden, vicar-general of the Diocese of Springfield. Monsignor Madden has endeared himself to the people of St. Jerome's and they have cooperated with him in his efforts to renovate and beautify the parish property.
Many curates have assisted in the development of St. Jerome's parish. Of these those who are now living are: Rev. Thomas Smyth, Rev. P.B. Phelan, Rev. R.F. Walsh, Rev. John R. Murphy, Rev. W.J. Powers, Rev. George Fitzgerald, Rev. William Hart, Rev. John GAvin, Rev. Patrick Hafey, Rev. A.A. Dwyer, Rev. J.J. Donnelly, Rev. O.M. Magee, Rev. A. O'Malley, Rev. John C. Ivers, Rev. Stephen Hallissey, Rev. Joseph McKeon, Rev. Michael Curran, Rev. John Broderick, Rev. Thomas B. Cunningham, Rev. Daniel Devine, and Rev. Walter Hogan.
The religious life of St. Jerome's parish is expressed among other ways by a flourishing League of the Sacred Heart, a Sodality of the Blessed Virgin, a Rosary Society, and a Society of the Holy Name. The latter is an enthusiastic body of 1,200 men. Its marvelous growth during the past few years is due in great measure to the energy and magnetism of Rev. John A. Broderick.
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