Digital Commonwealth

Father James T. O’Reilly

Lawrence Public Library

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The Reverend James T. O’Reilly was born in Lansingburgh, New York on May 1, 1851. He attended Villanova College in 1866, graduating with honors in 1871. During his years of study, in 1868, he enrolled in the novitiate of the Augustinian Order. He was ordained a priest on March 15, 1874. His first parish was St. Denis, West Haverford in Pennsylvania. In 1879, he transferred to St. John’s Church at Schaghticoke, New York. Ultimately he became the pastor of St. Mary’s church in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He was well loved by his parish and respected by the community at large. Fr. O’Reilly was a champion of the temperance movement and Irish independence. He was intrepid in his fight to further the cause of the Catholic Church in Lawrence. Churches dedicated by Fr. O’ Reilly include St. Monica’s in Methuen and St. Francis, St. Joseph, Sts. Peter and Paul, Holy Trinity, and St. Anthony in Lawrence. He was appointed a trustee of the Lawrence Public Library in 1896. The Golden Jubilee of Fr. O’Reilly (his fiftieth year as a priest) was celebrated May 4-7, 1924. The final event was a civic parade that closed the schools and businesses and included floats and bands, religious, civic and fraternal bodies, military units, and school children. He died in 1925.