In 1857, Catholic families in the Montrose area purchased the church edifice formerly used by the Episcopalians for $600.00. It bore the name Holy Name of Mary Chapel. The land was deeded by Henry and Frances Drinker to the Right Reverend John N. Neumann. This property is at the comer of Chestnut and Cedar Streets and is currently owned by Richard Craige. Rev. John N. Neumann became the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia and was canonized a Saint on June 19, 1977.
During the 1850's, mass was celebrated once a month, with priests from St. John's, Susquehanna and St. Joseph's serving the spiritual needs of Montrose parishioners. In 1873, the Reverend Patrick J. Murphy was appointed pastor of Holy Name of Mary Mission. He was both a gifted writer and orator. At that time the Mission consisted of 20 Catholic families, 25 young women employed as domestics, possibly from Ireland, in the hotels and private families and approximately 22 families residing in the rural areas adjacent to Montrose. In 1875, Father Murphy was transferred to St. Francis Xavier, Friendsville. He was succeeded by Reverend Felix McGuckin, Reverend Anthony Shields, and Reverend Thomas J. Rea who served as pastors until 1879.
Reverend Edward J. Lafferty became pastor in 1879 and remained until 1899. During his pastorate the congregation began to dream of a new church and worked unceasingly to raise the funds to accomplish this purchase. God blessed their efforts and a site for the Montrose Catholic Church was chosen on South Main Street. On March 14, 1884 a deed was transferred from the estate of Frances M. Drinker to Most Reverend William O'Hara, Bishop of Scranton, for the sum of $758.00.
On August 26, 1886 at 3:30 p.m. the ceremony for the laying of the comer stone took place and in its receptacle were copies of borough papers, The Catholic Standard, The Erie Visitor and suitable records. The receptacle was opened 100 years later at the Centennial Celebration. In 1892 Father Lafferty purchased a small plot of land outside of the Montrose borough for a cemetery. This plot was consecrated on August 15, 1896 by Bishop Michael 1. Hoban.
Holy Name of Mary became an independent Parish in 1899 with Reverend Anthony T. Broderick as the first pastor. Father was instrumental in securing funds for a parish residence which was built for $3,500. The welfare of the parish youth was dear to Father. He organized a temperance society for teenagers; he taught them public speaking, photography, and often took them on long walks.
In 1921, after serving for 22 years as pastor, Father Broderick was succeeded by Reverend William J. Gibson who organized the first Holy Name Society in the parish. Reverend Charles Murray became pastor in 1930 and remained eight years, always taking pride in the appearance of the church property. Reverend Martin J. Maher succeeded Reverend Murray in 1938 and formed the Blessed Virgin Sodality, an organization made up of young ladies of the parish.
In 1942 the Lathrop residence directly across from the church was purchased as a convent for the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who arrived on September 8, 1942. The stately building also served as a school in which Sister Alma Marie was the first Mother Superior, Sister Francella taught kindergarten and Sister Rose Inna taught music. It is said that the Sisters held the most wonderful kindergarten graduation ceremonies. Members of the community who came to watch found standing room only when they arrived at the commencement.
The Sisters' presence in Montrose brought gentle guidance, counsel, and serenity that drew this rural community together in peaceful harmony; their contribution to the community will always be remembered and must never be antiquated.
In the late 60's the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were called to return to Marywood in Scranton and the convent was used on Sundays for CCD classes until 1970. The Convent building was raised and replaced with the present parking area in 1974.
Reverend Thomas P. Monahan became pastor in 1943 when Reverend Maher was transferred to Susquehanna. Father Monahan helped found Our Lady of Fatima mission church in Springville. Our Lady of Fatima congregation celebrated their final Mass on February 19, 1994 after the Bishop approved closing.
Father Corcoran succeeded Father Monahan and carried on the tradition of social activities, especially parish picnics, and established catechetical classes with the assistance of the Sisters. He served the parish for four years until he was transferred to St. Joseph's in Minooka. Reverend Corcoran went to be with the Lord on April 15, 1975.
Father Nonnan J. Irwin was transferred to our parish from St. Joachim's and St. Bonaventure's during 1949. He is remembered for restoring our church sanctuary and sacristy. Father loved rock candy and at Christmas he distributed his old-fashioned treat to the youngsters. He possessed an endless supply of jokes and stories that lightened religious study. Father Irwin retired in 1972.
Father Irwin was succeeded by Monsignor Donald A. Deuel, a graduate of Montrose High School Class of '36. He became Dean of the Susquehanna-Wyoming Counties. Under his leadership several programs and renovations were accomplished, such as structural changes including a library and conference rooms, confessional for the hearing impaired, Lenten Bible classes, and summer religious instruction. Monsignor was pastor for 17 years and went to be with the Lord on December 30, 1989.
Reverend Cyril Rable was appointed administrator in the interim until Father Joseph F. Sammons arrived as pastor. His tenure lasted from 1990-92. Father initiated many improvements for the church including the large crucifix donated by the Altar and Rosary Society, which hangs over the tabernacle on the main Altar.
Reverend Leo J. McKernan came to our parish on July 7, 1992. He initiated a rededication of the church windows, having them cleaned and leaded two at a time with funds donated by members of our parish family. Father Leo made members of the congregation feel they were his close personal friend by emitting laughter, joy and concern toward all whom he met.
Reverend James R. Nash became Pastor in 1995. He had a wonderful connection with the youth of the parish, causing youth programs and activities to flourish. During his time as Pastor the Victorian House on the corner of South Main Street and Drinker Street was purchased by the parish to be used as a Religious Education Center. At his departure the center was named the Fr. James Nash Religious Education Center in his honor. In July 2005 Father Nash left Holy Name of Mary after ten years as Pastor.
Reverend Gerard Safko served as pastor of Holy Name of Mary from July 2005 to 2013. Father Jerry is a liturgist and loved providing spiritual and uplifting Liturgies. He conducted sung prayer services to everyone’s delight and shared his light-hearted and joyful attitude with all who worship here.
The current pastor of Holy Name of Mary is Reverend Philip Rayappan.
(The recounting of our parish history could not have been possible without the patient guidance of Agnes Strubel.)
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