In 1852 Rev. Michael McDonnell succeeded
Father Corry, and served until 1855. He was determined to have a parish school, even in the face of opposition from the
Trustees and many townspeople. He saw the need for continuing Catholic education among the growing numbers of Catholic people
in the Troy area. It was a time of great enterprise in the city. Stagecoaches were being built in Troy. So were barges and
riverboats. The Hoosick Tunnel, an engineering marvel, was open. The Erie and Champlain Canals were in operation. And pouring
in from famished, persecuted Ireland were men and women seeking a new life in the New World.
Part of the legend of the founding
of the school, and illustrating Father McDonnell's legendary determination, is the raffle of personal possessions he
conducted in order to get a fund started. Among the items he raffled was his gold watch. It was won by a boy in the parish,
James Liney, and it remained a prized possession of the Liney family for several generations. The school was started in the basement of church with a secular faculty.
Father McDonnell succeeded in constructing
it by 1854. It was staffed by lay teachers for another seven years. The next pastor was Rev. Thomas Daley. He purchased the
ground for St. Peter's cemetery in 1857. Succeeding Father Daley, in 1858, was a convert to Catholicism, Rev. Clarence A.
Walworth, son of a distinguished area family and a man of culture and intellectual achievement. He was poet and translator.
He is best known for his translation from the German of the beloved anthem, Holy God, We Praise Thy Name. During the 150th. Anniversary celebration year of 1974, St. Peter's
has used this hymn as its musical theme, featuring it in a radio series in which St. Peter's presented several talks
of the Holy Father, Paul VI. Father Walworth was an ardent promotor of the cause of Blessed Kateri Tekawitha. After serving
at St. Peter's for only two years, Father Walworth left the parish to join the order of Paulist Fathers, noted for their work
in the Arts.
St. Peter's parish continued to flourish,
and the school grew so fast that in less than ten years, by 1861, when the Rev. James Keveny became pastor, there were four
hundred children enrolled under the care of four secular teachers.