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Chapter Three of the History of St. Peter's Parish
High School Class of 1923
High School Class of 1923

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.

 

Kindergarten-St. Peter's School
Kindergarten-St. Peter's School

Father Keveny chose to staff the school with Religious from a teaching order, and approached Bishop McCloskey to ask for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet, Mo. The Bishop agreed and, according to the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Troy Prov­ince, seven sisters with Sister Theodora Mc­Cormick as superior, arrived in Troy from St. Louis. Among the members were Sister Mary Perpetua Seilot, Sister Mary Pelagia Malavern, and Sister Martha Dunn. They soon organized a select school for girls, which occupied part of the convent; and, in addition, a separate school in the Lyceum. Father Keveny's pastorate lasted for twenty years. During that time he liquidated the parish debts.