Power, John

views updated


Missionary; b. Rosscarberry, County Cork, Ireland, June 19, 1792; d. New York City, April 14, 1849. He studied at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, was ordained in 1814, and after serving as a curate at Youghal, taught in the diocesan college of Cloyne. In 1819 he immigrated to New York City, where he became a curate and then pastor at St. Peter's Church. As one of the most prominent Catholics in New York, he was named vicar-general and administrator of the diocese (182349); he attended the First and Second Provincial Councils of Baltimore, and accompanied Bp. John Dubois on a visitation of the entire diocese (1828). Power was keenly interested in the Catholic Orphan Asylum, and he encouraged the founding of the Truth Teller, New York's first Catholic newspaper. He distinguished himself by his zeal during the yellow fever epidemics of 1819 and 1822, and the cholera epidemic of 1832. Like all New York priests of the time, Power was an itinerant missionary and on occasion ministered to the Catholics of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Jersey City and New Brunswick, N.J., where he said the first Mass; and Connecticut. His tenure at St. Peter's was beset by trusteeism and financial difficulties that were climaxed by bankruptcy in 1844, when the church was auctioned to satisfy the creditors.

Power was an excellent linguist, with a good command of Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, and Gaelic. An able exponent of Catholic doctrine, he successfully answered the attacks of Calvinist ministers William Brownlee and John Breckenridge. His publications include several books of devotion, a translation of part of the Royaumont Bible, and a catechetical history of the Old Testament. His remains were interred in old St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City.

Bibliography: j. t. smith, The Catholic Church in New York 2 v. (New York 1906) v. 1. l. r. ryan, Old St. Peter's, New York 17851935. (U.S. Catholic Historical Society 15; New York 1935). m. a. corrigan, Historical Records and Studies of the U.S. Catholic Historical Society of New York 2 (1900) 4243.

[f. d. cohalan]