History of Holyoke's Churches
Holy Rosary Parish
The Holy Rosary Parish was organized on March 26, 1886. Its first pastor was Rev. Michael J. Howard. Mass in the new parish was said at first in the old Second Baptist Church. In 1887, the Ely property on Mosher street was purchased, and work was begun on the most beautiful of the Catholic churches of Holyoke. Many of the people of the city still remember the influence exerted in the old days of the Rosary by the strong and charming personality of Father Howard. His people were glad to make sacrifices with him. A month after the dedication of the basement of his church he died, in September, 1888.
Father Howard had started the Church of the Rosary. Bishop O'Reilly looked over his diocese for a man of financial ability and spiritual power to continue the work. He found him in Rev. Thomas D. Beaven, the pastor of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Spencer. Father Beaven built the rectory of the Rosary and presented it to the parish as a personal gift. He also nearly completed the church. He was called from the Rosary by Pope Leo XIII, and on October 18, 1892, raised to the dignity of Bishop of Springfield.
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary
Bishop Beaven sent in his stead to the Rosary Rev. David McGrath on October 17, 1892. The beautiful interior and the furnishings of the Church of the Rosary made it unnecessary to speak of the judgment of Father McGrath. He was remarkably successful, too, in the management of the finances of the parish. In 1963 he had so reduced the debt of the church that he felt he could prudently begin the erection of a parish school; and he made the school beautiful, that it might harmonize with the beautiful Rosary Church. On October 19, 1904, Father McGrath left the Rosary to assume charge of the Church of St. Mary at Milford.
Rev. John E. Griffin
Father McGrath was succeeded by Rev. Edward Fitzgerald. Father Fitzgerald, by his gentleness and his strength, his mental endowments, and his profoundly spiritual character, so won the hearts of his people that they aided him to all by sweep away the debt against the church property. The entire city joined with the people of the Rosary when Pope Pius X made him a Domestic Prelate in December, 1910. One month later, January 30, 1911, the entire city condoled with the people of the Rosary on the death of their beloved Father Fitzgerald. Since the death of Father Fitzgerald the parish of the Rosary has been ably managed by Rev. John Griffin. Father Griffin's thirteen years of labor in Ward One have much endeared him to the people who call the Rosary their spiritual home. The Rosary has had the services of the following curates: Rev. William Dower, Rev. J.C. Ivers, Rev. J.J. Howard, Rev. John F. Conlin, Rev. William Ryan, Rev. John F. Boland, Rev. Michael Burke, Rev. John F. Griffin, Rev. Daniel McDermott, and Rev. Gerald McGourty.
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