Rev. James Clark
Parish Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 9:00 A.M. --12 Noon
History of St. Patrick's
The idea of a parish church in St. Johnsville originated in the mind of Bishop Francis McNierney, third bishop of Albany. As a result, on July 11, 1887, he established a dedicated this new parish to St. Patrick. Fort Plain and Middle Sprite were part of this parish too.
The bishop appointed Rev. Mathew K. Mearns its first pastor, but the parish had no church. Plans were soon made for the erecting of a church. It was built on part of what was a brick quarry. The central high school now is on part of the land purchased for the church. From meager reports of early history, we learn that mass for a time was offered on the second floor of what is now the Central Hotel. Some of the services were, reportedly, held in the Lutheran Church, too.
In 1888, St. Patrick's Church took shape and the parish had its own facilities. Most of the parishioners in those early days were of Irish origin as their surnames indicate: O'Keefe, Dineen, Walrath, Fitzpatrick, Hillegas, and O'Connor. In the early 1900's groups of Italian Catholics joined the parish. At the start of 1910 a change was noted. Groups of Italian Catholics began moving in and in the 1910's with the building of a second set of tracks by the New York Central, and more traffic on the canal, our parish took on a new look. Many Italians were among our parishioners. Today about half of our people are of Italian Descent. Among our people there are also people of Polish, German, Slovak and Lithuanian origin.
In 1955 a drive was made to enlarge our church and at this time a beautiful parish hall equipped for the social life of the parish was built.
Changes were forthcoming. Fort Plain became a parish of its own and with churches closer to them, the people of Middle Sprite went their way elsewhere. Our parish at the present still covers a great territory extending west to East Creek, north to Oppenheim and Lasselsville, east to the old stone church at Palatine and comprising many acres on the south side of the Mohawk.
After Vatican II, more changes took place: a new altar was added and the priest said Mass facing the people. This was also a period of transition when Rev. Thomas J. Quinn (1961-1969) said Mass in English instead of Latin.
A parish council was formed for the purpose of serving as a helping hand for the priest and the parish. The original altars were removed as part of a complete renovation of the sanctuary. The present furnishings were added. For the first time, lay persons took an active part in the Mass and served as readers of Lectors. Some of the first lectors were women.
St. Patrick's continued to make history under the leadership of Rev. William J. Schoofs who served with efficiency and affection. He has helped the parish with the aid of the council, to establish new ways of keeping the financial status of the parish healthy. A new roof was put on the church and parish hall, the parking lot was extended by almost one third of its original, the annual fair was started, and "Bingo" became a weekly event.
St. Patrick's contributed a priest to work in God's vineyard too. Rev. George Haggerty, a Maryknoll Missioner, served in China, Taiwan, Kenya and other faraway places.
At the retirement of Father Iannotti in 1998 the parish was without a resident pastor. Father Swain served as pastor of Fort Plain and also St. Johnsville, Sister Dolores Stevens, a sister of St. Joseph served as a pastoral associate and resided in the rectory. In July of 1999 Sister Dolores Stevens was appointed by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard as the parish life director of St. Patrick's. Sister is responsible for the administration of the parish and for the pastoral care of the people. Father Swain was appointed as the spiritual minister and is responsible for the sacramental ministry of the parish for which he is ordained.
Pastors who served at St. Patrick's
Matthew K. Mearns
John J. Driscoll
John J. Brosnan
William F. O'Connor
John L. Morrissey
Joseph A. Thornton
John J. Finn
Arthur A. Cunnigham
A. Nap. LaPalme
Ernest P. Neville
Michael T. Scully
Walter T. Burns
Thomas J. Quinn
William P. Furlan
Rev. Almerico DiCerbo
William J. Schoofs
Pascal A. Iannotti
Kenneth J. Swain
Dolores Stevens, CSJ
Johanne McCarthy, CSJ
Opening Page for St. Patrick's Church