Friday, May 6, 2011

The Apostle of the Alleghenies

Prince, priest, and pioneer: After 41 years working in the Alleghenies, he died as he had lived, a poor man. To quote:

Father Gallitzin first exercised his ministry in Baltimore and in the scattered missions of southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland and Virginia.  In 1796, while stationed at Conewago, Pennsylvania, Servant of God Gallitzin  received a sick-call to attend a Mrs. John Burgoon, a Protestant, who lived at McGuire’s Settlement, about one hundred and fifty miles distant, and who ardently desired to become a Catholic before her death.  Father Gallitzin immediately started on the long journey, instructed Mrs. Burgoon, and received her into the Church.  During this visit to the Alleghenies he conceived the idea of forming a Catholic settlement there. In preparation therefore, he invested his means (considerable at that time) in the purchase of land adjoining the four hundred acres donated to the Church, and at the urgent request of the little mountain colony obtained from Bishop Carroll permission to fix his permanent residence there with jurisdiction extending over a territory with a radius of over one hundred miles.  In the summer of 1799, he commenced his career as pioneer priest of the Alleghenies.  His first care was to erect a church and house of logs, hewn from the immense pine trees of the surrounding forest.  In a letter to Bishop Carroll, dated February 9, 1800, he writes:
Our church, which was only begun in harvest, got finished fit for service the night before Christmas. It is about 44 feet long by 25, built of white pine logs with a very good shingle roof. I kept service in it at Christmas for the first time. There is also a house built for me, 16 feet by 14, besides a little kitchen and a stable.

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