The Portrait of Father Conroy (1858 - 1939)
Crayon on paper, 1885
Last known location St. Mary's Parish, Ogdensburg, New York
Jefferson County Journal, Adams, NY.
August 4, 1885 - Adams, NY
Jefferson County Journal
Theodore Gegoux, of Watertown, has lately finished a life size* crayon portrait of Father Conroy, of Ogdensburg. The portrait is said to be a fine one.
*(Life Size was 32 x 26 inches)
The History of Ogdensburg New York
By Rt. Rev. P.S. Garand, D.D.,V. G. - 1927
Rev. Joseph H. Conroy, who succeeded Fr. Mackey, was born in Watertown, November 8, 1858, and had for parents Dennis Conroy and Bridget Walsh. After attending the public schools of his native city, he studied at the Sulpician College, Montreal, P.Q., and St. Michael's College, Toronto. His theological studies were pursued in Toronto, Montreal and St. Joseph's, Troy, N. Y., where he entered September, 1878, Bishop Gabriels being then President.
After receiving there all the orders, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood June 11, 1881. His first appointment was at Cherubusco, under Fr. Jeremiah P. Murphy, June 24, 1881, to August 2, 1881. Then he became pastor at St. Patrick's, Rouses' Point, and remained there until he was transferred to Ogdensburg April 17, 1883. He dwelt with Bishop Wadhams, until his appointment as pastor of St. Mary's Church, December 5, 1883. He then took his quarters in the old rectory and remained there until about six months before the new rectory was ready for occupancy. During those six months he kept house with his sister in the Best house, corner Elizabeth and Jay Streets. He was only twenty five years old at the time of his appointment, but he was active, full of initiative, intelligent and progressive.
He brought new life to the parish and started at once to make improvements. Behind the old rectory, he built, at a cost of $11,000, a magnificent and stately stone mansion, still in existence. The three old houses on the premises facing Montgomery Street, were removed, one near the old stone school house, on Lafayette Street, the other two, as well as the old rectory, were sold and taken away. The property was then graded as it is today. He placed his school under the Regents of New York State in 1888, and it graduated its first class in 1892. This was the second Catholic High School in the State of New York to be affiliated to the Board of Regents, in Albans. Later, he was not satisfied with having the grade and high school in the same building, but conceived the idea of setting up a high school, second to none in the City. In this he at first encountered great opposition on the part of his people. Some of them said this High School cannot be built, others, if built, it cannot be paid for, and a third class said even if built and paid for, it cannot be supported. The clear sighted Bishop paid no attention to this opposition. He only looked to the good of his people. He was convinced it was God's work and would in the end succeed.
He was not deceived in his expectation. The school was built, paid for, opened May 2, 1912 and it has run since, and no one has felt the burden. After a while, when good and generous people saw the earnestness and determination of the Rector, they came to his rescue and subscribed most generously, one of them even gave as much as $20,000. Father Conroy started clubs and societies for young men and women, inspired them with a love for higher education with the result that many became priests, nuns, doctors, lawyers or have joined other professions.
He remodeled the Cathedral, had it frescoed three times, once since Fr. E. Brown has been Rector, put in marble and onyx altars, and altar rail, enlarged St. Mary's grade school, erected St. Vincent's Chapel at the State Hospital, paid all the debt on the Cathedral, and had it consecrated September 18, 1898. So many activities and so much success could not escape Bishop Gabriel's observation, and so he conferred upon the pastor, honor upon honor.
He made him one of his consultors in 1897, his Vicar General March 3, 1901 (a month after V. G. Walsh died), he had him appointed Domestic Prelate October, 1905, Titular Bishop of Arundela, and his Auxiliary March 11, 1912, and had him consecrated Bishop May 1, 1912, by Cardinal Farley of New York, assisted by Bishops Gabriels and Colton, Bishop Hickey of Rochester preached the sermon.
Archbishop Hayes, as well as a few other Bishops, made remarks, after which Bishop Conroy spoke eloquently, telling his priests of the love he had for the diocese, the confidence he placed in them and how he counted on their cooperation for his success as a Bishop. He terminated his discourse by appointing Msgr. P. S. Garand, pastor of Notre Dame Church, Ogdensburg, as his Vicar General.
Since Rt. Rev. Bishop Conroy's election to the See of Ogdensburg, the diocese has akeady taken fresh life. The Bishop is still full of vigor, energy, ambition and progressiveness. A dozen or more fine churches, seven parochial schools have already been built and all the priests feel that this is a time of progress, and great activities, and that they must do all they can to second the Bishop in his enterprises.
Catholic Schools and vocation to the priesthood and the religious life, have been the sounding notes of the new régime. To show his earnestness in this matter, he started, in October, 1924, a Petit Séminaire, called Wadham's Hall, on Hamilton Street, Ogdensburg, where some fifteen young men are preparing themselves for the Grand Séminaire. Rev. Fr. Volmer is the first Dean of the College and Fr. John Hogan is his assistant. It is hoped that many candidates to the priesthood will in time come out of this institution and all know that the diocese is in sad need of them; were it not for a dozen or more strangers who are helping, several parishes would be without a priest.
The chancellor's office has been completely reorganized with the skilful help of Rev. John L. Plunkett, the present chancellor, and placed under the most modern methods of running a chancery. All diocesan business and all dispensations have to go through this office, where all letters and documents are kept in order and filed away in their proper place, parishes and priests having their own file. Since his elevation to the bishopric of Ogdensburg, Rt. Rev. Joseph H. Conroy has been made the recipient of more honors and titles. On August 27, 1923, by a unanimous vote of the trustees, Bishop Conroy was made an Honorary Life member of the Catholic Summer School of America, Cliff Haven, N.Y. On March 24, 1924, the Board of Governors elected him Honorary member of the Catholic Writers of America. Their Guild House is at 128 W. 71st Street, New York City.
On May 1, 1924, he was made an Associate member of the International Catholic Truth Society by the Board of Directors, at a meeting held in New York City. On June 15, 1924, he was made Doctor of Laws by Notre Dame University, Indiana. On October 16, 1924, he was reappointed a member of the Academic Council, for a term of five years, by the Board of Regents of the City of Albany.
On July 29, 1924, Rt. Rev. Bishop Conroy was visited by the Apostolic Delegate of the United States, His Excellency, Most Rev. Pietro Fumosi-Biondi. The latter had nothing but praise for all he saw in the diocese. In February, 1925, Bishop Conroy made his first visit "ad limina", accompanied by his devoted chancellor, Rev. John L. Plunkett. He was kindly received by the Pope, the Secretary of State and all the Cardinals with whom he came in contact. He obtained all the favors he asked for, among which the title of Domestic Prelate for Very Rev. Dean M. R. Burns, the title of Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great for Messrs, David Kief of Watertown and John W. Hogan, 1045 Park Avenue, New York City. The latter died during the summer of 1926. During the Bishop's absence, Rt. Rev. Msgr. P. S. Garand, V.G., acted as administrator and Rev. Fr. A. D. Charbonneau as secretary.
Additional biographical information about Bishop Joseph Henry Conroy and the Ogdensburg Diocese
Third Bishop of Ogdensburg Diocese - Joseph Henry Conroy, D.D.
Bishop Joseph Henry Conroy
Bishop of Ogdensburg
1872 - The Diocese of Ogdensburg was acknowledged on February 16, 1872 by Pope Pius IX, "We, with definite knowledge, mature deliberation, and by our Apostolic Authority, in virtue of the present document, separate and sever from the Diocese of Albany, the following territory -- the counties of St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Jefferson, Lewis, and Essex, together with that part of the counties of Herkimer and Hamilton which lies above the northern line of the townships of Ohio and Russia; and this same territory we erect and constitute as a true and properly called diocese."