George A. Meagher, O.S.A.

1821 – 1881 (April 7)

George Augustine Meagher was born on January 23, 1821, in Lisbon, Portugal, to Jeremiah Meagher and Leocadia M. Hewson. His father had been the British Vice-Counsul at Lisbon for forty-four years. His mother was born on the island of San Miguel in the Azores. George studied in England, at the Benedictine College of St. Gregory, at Bath, and at the Jesuit College of Stonyhurst in Lancashire, where he graduated with high honors. On October 29, 1839, he entered the novitiate at Tolentine, Italy. After professing vows, George pursued clerical studies at Lucca, Perugia, and in Rome, and was ordained to the priesthood at Perugia, on December 17, 1843.

In 1846, Father Meagher arrived in the Unites States, and was assigned to St. Augustine Parish in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania. From 1848 to 1854, he was vice president at Villanova College, and for three of those years he was pastor of St. Denis parish in Ardmore, Pa. While at Villanova he was Prefect of Discipline, Prefect of Studies and Professor of Modern Languages.

At one point during his years at Villanova, Father Meagher visited his parents in Lisbon. In 1858, he was assigned to Lansingburgh, New York, and became the first pastor of St. Mary’s in Waterford. In 1859, he was assigned to the Parish of St. Paul, Mechanicville, N.Y. He also served in St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in St. Mary’s in Lawrence, Ma. From November, 1867, to his death in April 1881, Father Meagher was again in New York, where as pastor and prior he served parishes in Schaghticoke, Cambridge, Carthage, and Hoosick Falls. He offered the first Mass in Johnsonville, and in North Easton, New York. On April 18, 1870, Fathers Meagher, Thomas Galberry and others, incorporated the Augustinian Society of New York. At the Chapter of 1878, Father Meagher was elected a definitor of the province.

On April 7, 1881, Father Meagher, at age sixty, died at St. Patrick in Cambridge, New York. After the funeral services, which were held in St. Patrick Church, the local Cambridge newspaper, The Standard, reported,

“The procession that followed the remains was a remarkable one. It was more than a mile in length, and was composed of people of all nationalities and of all religious creeds. It was a tribute to the worth of the man, as well as the excellence of the pastor. In all he was warmly attached to his Order, of which he had been a faithful member for 42 years; he was a most untiring and zealous worker in the vineyard, and of courteous, kindly ways to all.”

Paraphrasing Father John P. Gilmore, O.S.A., the homilist at the Requiem Mass, the article in The Standard continued, “… the church and people had sustained a loss in thus being deprived of a faithful priest and true friend. His was a noble nature, full of kindness, hope, faith and trust.”

Father Meager’s remains were brought by train to Lansingburgh and met by crowds of people, headed by the conference of St. Vincent de Paul of St. Augustine Church. A procession, headed by a platoon of police, marched to the Augustinian plot at St. John Cemetery in Lansingburgh, New York, where the interment took place.