Fathers Walsh, English & Brennan
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Immaculate Conception 2016

Chapter Six of the History of St. Peter's Parish
Father William Walsh
Father Walsh

Rev. William H. Walsh


Father William H. Walsh was appointed pastor in 1920. It was a homecoming for him. He had made his First Holy Communion, and said his first Mass in St. Peter's Church. He had been an assisting priest during the ceremony of the blessing of the bells. He recalled with gratitude the lasting influence Sister Thecla, of St. Peter's School, had upon his life. He said her teaching laid the foundations of his theology. During his time, the spiritual life of the parish was at a peak. There was high enthusiasm for all parochial activities. When the Lyceum was damaged by fire, in 1930, the men of the Holy Name Society organized their skills and made all the repairs. The choir continued to make a major contribution. At this time, Professor Leo McCarthy was organist and choir director. He pre­sided at a magnificent instrument, a $25,000.00 organ donated in 1925 by Mary Katherine Fagan, in memory of her parents. In the depression years, the St. Vincent dePaul Society was especially ac­tive, bringing relief to needy families. The rectory door was always open to those who came for assistance, as it is today. Father Walsh was in ill health for a number of years. He died on July 16, 1942.


Msgr. Engish
Father English



Msgr. Michael F. English


Father Michael F. English came to St. Peter's in September 1942. He served as Dean of Rensselaer County priests, and was elevated to a domestic prelate by Pope Pius XII in 1957. Msgr. Eng­lish was a generous, kindly man. His deep wisdom and great con­cern for each individual were unheralded. Yet, his gentle counsel was widely sought. He was in frail health for a long time, ultimately needing the administrative assistance of Father Charles C. Smith. Between them, they cleared the parish debt through the generous response of the people. After much suffering, Msgr. English suc­cumbed on December 15, 1959.









Msgr. Matthew Brennan
Father Brennan

Msgr. Matthew M. Brennan


Rt. Rev. Msgr. Matthew M. Brennan was appointed pastor in 1960. For 35 years he had been director of the Propagation of the Faith, a work he loved. He was a man of many interests. He was first president of the Priests Senate. He was active in scouting. For years he was a director of the Rensselaer County Tuberculosis Association. He was deeply committed to the missions. Out of his own resources, he funded the translation of the Bible into the Japanese language. During his tenure, the centenary of St. Peter's School was celebrated, in October 1964. In his time drastic changes in the the parish set in. The blight of old neighborhoods, the demolition undertaken by Urban Renewal, resulted in the loss of hundreds of parishioners literally forced to move. But Msgr. was an optimist, confident of God's constant help, relying on the loyalty of those who remained in the parish, and who made it possible to keep both the church and the school functioning. While Msgr. Brennan was pastor, Vatican II was convened by Pope John XXIII, on October 11, 1962. It was completed on December 8, 1965, when Archbishop Pericle Felici, General Secretary of the Council, read the papal brief declaring it closed, stating that its decrees should be religiously observed by all the faithful. Msgr. Brennan anticipated them, accepted them with enthusiasm, and began their implemen­tation. Especially noted for the warm conviviality of his rectory, he was an affectionate brother to his priests, and priest-visitors sought his hospitality. He left St. Peter's in 1968 for the less rigorous demands of a relatively prosperous parish, St. Thomas in Delmar. He died on October 1,1971.