Writer; b. County Kerry, Ireland c. 1780; d. Holyoke, Mass., Feb. 23, 1861. He was ordained for the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland, in 1805. His views on usury and his criticisms of banking alienated him from his bishop. For 11 years he was refused acceptance by various bishops, but in 1830 Bp. Benedict Fenwick of Boston, Mass., accepted him for that diocese. He was sent into Vermont, where he spent most of his remaining days as a missionary to scattered settlements of Catholics. In Burlington, Vt., he was offered five acres of land, on which he built St. Mary's Church in 1832. When it was burned to the ground by nativists in 1838, O'Callaghan rebuilt it, dedicating it to St. Peter. In his churches he permitted no pew rent or seat money, but only three voluntary offerings each year. From Vermont he traveled into the western areas of Massachusetts and the eastern regions of New York to celebrate Mass for Catholics and to administer the Sacraments. After 1837 he was aided by Rev. JohnB. Daly, who divided the state with him and matched his energy and zeal. The priests reported a Catholic population of 5,000 in Vermont in 1840. O'Callaghan served as procurator of the clergy at the first diocesan synod held in Boston from Aug. 21 to 26, 1842. When Burlington was made a diocese in 1853, he returned to Massachusetts and served at Northampton and at Holyoke, where he built a new church. O'Callaghan wrote pamphlets of a polemic nature during these years, explaining Catholicism to Protestants and answering the charges leveled against the Church by non-Catholic pamphlet writers and preachers. The best-known of all his works was his often reprinted Usury or Interest (1824), which contained an account of his early years.
Bibliography: r. h. lord et al., History of the Archdiocese of Boston … 1604–1943, 3 v. (Boston 1945).
[t. f. casey]