Digital Commonwealth

Augustinian Priests Photograph Collection

Lawrence Public Library

The Order of St. Augustine was founded by Augustine himself in the 5th century AD. The order was based on a code of practical Christian life based on the Gospel precepts of charity, love of God and neighbor, and of submissiveness to one’s spiritual and temporal guides and rulers. By the end of the 15th century, the order numbered 30,000 souls in 2,000 monasteries and 300 convents. The first Augustinians to come the United States came to Baltimore via Ireland in 1794. In the early years of the 19th century, the Augustinians spread to a number of dioceses in the new country. Shortly after St. Mary’s was organized, the Bishop of Boston invited Father James O’Donnell from Villanova to take charge of the parish. By 1895, there were 10 priests and 1 lay brother in Lawrence and 2 priests in Andover. All the Catholic churches in North Lawrence, Andover, Ballardvale, and Wilmington, with the exception of St. Anne’s, were under the care of the Augustinians.