Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Father M. J. Farrelly

It is doubtful whether in the state of Iowa a more faithful and efficient pastor can be found than Father M. J. Farrelly, of the St. Rose of Lima Catholic church, of Denison. He has officiated as head of the church ot this place. for twenty-four years and the great respect in which he is held by his parishioners as well as by the entire community is proof of his worth.

Born at Aughavass, Ireland, March 1, 1854, he was reared as a farmer boy by good Catholic parents and received his early education in his native land. The father's business was principally that of buying and selling cattle and shipping them to England and Scotland. He died in 1892 at the age of eighty-four years. The mother came to America in 1893 and passed away in Denison, Iowa, on the 16th of December, 1899, being then seventy-three years of age.

There were seven sons and two daughters in the family, namely: Luke, now deceased; Patrick F., who is pastor of St. Joseph's church at Carroll, Iowa; Thomas, who died at the age of eighteen years; M. J., the subject of this review; Mrs. B. McGuire, of St. Paul, Minnesota, whose husband died October 26, 1910; James, a commission merchant of Chicago; Philip, who is a farmer and lives near Denison; Peter, of Denison; and Mary, the wife of J. T. Haugh, of Denison.

Luke FarreIIy, the paternal grandfather, a farmer in Ireland, married a Miss Masterson and they had seven children, Luke, Matthew, Peter, James. Michael, Thomas, and a daughter who died when young.

The maternal grandfather was Patrick Fitzpatrick who was a farmer of Ireland and also married a Miss Masterson. Their family included eight children, Philip, Patrick, Ann, Ellen, Mary, Alice, Adelia and Margaret.

Father Farrelly came to America in 1872 and for two years worked by the month on a farm near Lawler in Chickasaw county, Iowa. In 1874 he entered the Christian Brothers School at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and in the faIl of the following year became a student in St. Joseph's College at Dubuque. Iowa, where he spent two years in the study of the classics, graduating in moral philosophy in 1877. In the fall of the same year he went to Montreal, Canada, where he engaged for three years in the study of theology. Returning to Dubuque, he was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic church on the 21st of September 1880. His first appointment was in charge of a parish at Manchester, Iowa, where he continued for seven years, and while there built a church at Ryan and at Earlville and a parsonage at Manchester. He also secured for the congregation a new cemetery and carried out other important undertakings.

Under the appointment of Bishop Hennessy he has served since October 1, 1887, as pastor of St. Rose of Lima church at Denison. He has also been for nine years in charge of' the Charter Oak church as an out mission. In 1890 he built the Catholic school known as the St. Rose of Lima parochial school, which now has seventy-five pupils exclusive of those taking instruction in music, who number about sixty. In 1896 he erected a new church in this city, which cost twenty thousand dollars and has a seating capacity of severr hundred persons. It is elegantly furnished and was recently handsomely redecorated and frescoed, being known as one of the most beautiful churches irr the state. In the fall of 1910 Father Farrelly effected the purchase of the handsome residence of George W. Nicholson, one of the finest in the city, and it is now the parsonage of the church.

Father Farrelly has always retained his interest in his studies and is deeply versed in history, literature, science, theology and all subjects that interest a wide-awake and progressive scholar and religious teacher of the twentieth century. He is an eloquent and convincing speaker and is often invited to deliver addresses before patriotic, literary or religious bodies in the state. He is a power for good and his influence has ever been exerted in behalf of the weaker members of society and in the upbuilding of the best interests of the state and nation.

Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.