Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


Francis Eger

[p. 541] pastor of St. Joseph's Church of the city of New Castle, whose likeness appears on the opposite page, was born near Carrolltown, this State, in 1863. He entered St. Vincent's College in 1874, and was ordained a priest in the Abbey by the Rt. Rev. Richard Phelan, D. D., on July 8, 1886. He was then sent as assistant to the German congregation in Allegheny City. On the 11th of August, 1888, Father Eger was appointed pastor of the church of New Castle; he arrived in New Castle August 23, and celebrated mass for the first time in the lecture-room of the old Jefferson Street M. E. Church. On Sunday, August 26, the congregation assembled for the first time for public worship, and in the evening of the same day a congregational meeting was held.


Prior to Aug. 11, 1888, the date of Father Eger's appointment, there was but one Catholic church in New Castle, viz.: St. Mary's. Several attempts were made by the German Catholics of the city to organize a church but without success. During the winter of 1887-88 committees were selected to call upon Bishop Phelan of the diocese and make known the religious wants of the German Catholics of Lawrence County. On the third of May, 1888, a committee of disinterested priests were sent to New Castle, and after a thorough investigation reported to Bishop Phelan that the need of a church in New Castle was great. The committee was composed of Rev. A. A. Lambing of Wilkinsburg, Rev. F. Regis Canevin, chaplain of the penal institutions of Allegheny County, and Rev. Father Kaufman, pastor of St. Joseph's, Allegheny City. All of these clergymen are Americans and natives of Pennsylvania.

Father Eger having assumed charge of the parish, the First M. E. Church was purchased at a cost of $4,800.00. The church was then overhauled, inside and outside, and was ready for service Dec. 16, 1888 On that day the church was dedicated by Bishop Phelan, assisted by well-known clergymen of this diocese. A parochial school was opened in the basement of the church in March, 1889, with an attendance of about fifty children.


About 9 o'clock Monday morning, April 29, 1892, St. Joseph's Church was almost totally destroyed by fire, which caught in some way from a flue. The fire burned rapidly and despite the hard work done by the fire department, the building was almost a total loss.


St. Joseph's Church, as recently dedicated, is a handsome structure. The entire building has been painted. There are three front entrances, two by the outside stairs and one opening directly into the church proper. The interior of the church is finished in Wisconsin oak, and the woodwork was made in Chicago. The church will seat 600 people. The pews have high backs and the foot rests or kneeling benches are arranged so that they may be swung up out of the way. The altars are beautiful, the high altar being very nicely finished. The statuary of the church is particularly fine. It was all imported and was presented to the congregation. The choir loft and confessionals are finished in walnut and ash, and are artistic in their design. The windows are beautiful and were all presented by members of the Sunday-school and congregation and individual members. It is the intention of the congregation to have the walls and ceilings frescoed, but this will not be done at present. Altogether the church is a model of neatness and beauty, and reflects much credit on the congregation. In connection with the new church it might be said here that St. Joseph's possesses the finest and largest pipe organ in this part of the State. It cost in the neighborhood of $2,500.00, half the cost being defrayed by Leopold Rohrer, one of the parishioners. There is a school attached to the congregation. The children to the number of 180 are in charge of Sisters of Divine Providence.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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