Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Early Rochester (pre-DOR)

February 16th, 2011, Promulgated by b a

I recently bought a 3 volume set “The Life and Letters of Bishop McQuaid: Prefaced with the history of Catholic Rochester before his episcopate“.  I’m sure there will be much to learn (and share) as I work my way through it (slowly, slowly, slowly).  In just the first few pages, I found this most interesting (this is before the DOR existed):

This vast region was all comprised in the Albany district.  … Thus early settlers in Rochester and its vicinity had to cover three hundred miles, generally on foot, or at best on any available conveyances, in order to hear Mass, to go to confession and communion, to have a child baptized, or to receive other sacraments.  A pioneer Catholic, Felix McGuire, who often made the laborious journey over the wild and dangerous road through the woods, requested the priest stationed at Albany to come to Rochester once a year, or at least once in two or three years, to visit the dispersed sheep of Christ’s flock there.  …  At times a vacancy at Albany even compelled Catholics to push on to New York for spiritual ministration.  The Klems of Rochester and the Kernans of Steuben County are said to have submitted to such hardships of pioneer life in order to have a child baptized.  [p4]

NOTE: The text doesn’t mention anything about the people complaining to have women or married men ordained to make the Church more sustainable in this frontier world.

I can hear the conversation now, “You’re pregnant, honey?  Well shoot, we better start walking now so we can make it to NYC by the time Junior is 3 months.”


8 Responses to “Early Rochester (pre-DOR)”

  1. Choirloft says:

    I find it amazing that you got all 3 volumes together. I have never been able to find them all together. Good catch, Ben. I have book envy now.

    FYI – I served Mass for Dr. Zwierlein. I was about 8 and he was about 98 at the time.

  2. Ben Anderson says:

    oh my! That’s great.

  3. Mike says:

    I suspect those “Klems of Rochester” are the family after whom Klem Rd. in Webster is named. Two of their decedents would become Basilian priests: Fr. Robert Klem taught German at Aquinas for 25+ years and his uncle, Fr. Leo Klem also had a long tenure as a modern language professor at SJFC.

  4. Choirloft says:

    That is correct, Mike. It’s the Webster clan of Klems. They attended Mass at St. Joseph’s downtown, before Holy Trinity was built in Webster I worked with Pete Klem at Kodak. His sister is a member of the SSJs.

  5. Louis E. says:

    The “Albany district” editing is misleading…while the entire state outside the Hudson Valley was once part of Albany County,when the Diocese of New York stopped covering the entire state in 1847 (by which time the modern counties were pretty much set),Albany and Buffalo dioceses were created at the same time,and the modern DoR was entirely part of the Diocese of Buffalo.(In contrast,Ontario County had formerly included the Buffalo area as well as the Rochester area).

  6. Ben Anderson says:

    Thanks for that info, Louis E., but I’m not sure what was misleading.

  7. Louis E. says:

    The headline implies a period going all the way up to 1868,and the quote refers to a period long before 1868.

  8. Ben Anderson says:

    I didn’t realize the headline implied that date. You are right – this is 18-teens (how do you right that?)

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