Irish-American family that contributed to the development of the Church in the United States.
Peter, publisher; b. Dublin, Ireland, toward the close of the 18th century. Peter was descended from a Catholic family originally from the north of England. He married Mary Kelly, a sister of Abp. Oliver Kelly of Tuam. In 1826 the family immigrated to America and settled in Baltimore, Maryland where Blenkinsop became a publisher and published Charles Constantine Pise's A History of the Church (5 v. Baltimore 1827–29). In 1830 he issued the first Catholic monthly periodical in the United States, the Metropolitan, which existed only briefly, from January to December of 1830. Peter then reverted to bookselling. His three children, William A., Peter J., and Catherine, entered religious life.
Peter J., educator; b. Dublin, April 19, 1818; d. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Nov. 5, 1896. Peter J. attended St. Mary's College, Baltimore (1830–33), entered the Society of Jesus at Frederick, Maryland (1834), and taught at Georgetown College (later University), in Washington, D.C. After his ordination in 1846, he was assigned to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts where he served as instructor and treasurer and, from 1854 to 1857, as its fifth president. He made frequent missionary journeys to the scattered Catholics of central New England, south as far as Norwich, Connecticut and west to Springfield, Massachusetts. After pastoral service at St. Joseph's Church in Philadelphia, he returned to Holy Cross in 1873 and cared for the mission in Leicester, Massachusetts until 1880, when he left for Georgetown. From 1882 until his death, he was stationed at the Church of the Gesu, in Philadelphia.
William A., missionary; b. Dublin, 1819; d. Boston, Massachusetts, Jan. 8, 1892. William A. studied at St. Mary's College, Baltimore (1833–39), received his M.A. there, and joined the faculty. After his ordination in 1843, he served for seven years in the missions of the Diocese of Natchez, Mississippi. He became pastor at Chicopee, then part of the Boston diocese, and continued the pioneer labors of Revs. James Fitton and John D. Brady by making monthly missionary trips through an extensive territory in western Massachusetts, including the towns of Holyoke, Ware, Greenfield, and Amherst. In a time of bitterness exacerbated by the excesses of know-nothingism, he fostered an ecumenical spirit between Catholics and Protestants. He built the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus (dedicated in 1859) to care for the expanding Catholic population in Chicopee. In 1864 he was named pastor of SS. Peter and Paul, a parish then embracing the entire area of South Boston.
Catherine, educator; b. Dublin, April 18, 1816: d. Emmitsburg, Maryland, March 18, 1887. Catherine took the name of Euphemia when she entered the Sisters of Charity of Emmitsburg in 1831. After serving at St. Joseph's school in New York and at St. Peter's school and St. Mary's Asylum in Baltimore, she was appointed assistant for the motherhouse in Emmitsburg (1855) and directed the institutions of the Sisters of Charity in the Southern states during the Civil War. In 1866 Mother Euphemia became superior of the Sisters of Charity in the United States and in subsequent years opened charitable establishments in various cities.
Bibliography: r. h. lord et al., History of the Archdiocese of Boston, 1604–1943, 3 v. (New York 1944). j. j. mccoy, History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Springfield (Boston 1900).
[w. j. grattan]