Philip Lariscy, O.S.A.

1782 – 1824 (April 6)

Philip Lariscy, was born in 1782, in Callan, Kilkenny, Ireland, entered the novitiate at Grantstown in 1807, and professed vows on May 20, 1808. He studied at St. John’s College in Waterford, where he was ordained to the priesthood. At the close of the War of 1812, he and Timothy Brown left the friary in county Cork, having been delegated as missionaries to Irish Catholics in Canadian Provinces. Father Lariscy spent three years in Newfoundland, where he was stationed at Harbour Grace, a mission established by the Augustinians in 1770. In 1816, he became an assistant to Bishop Thomas Scallan, at St. John’s and Prince Edward Island, followed by a year in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Then, after a trip to Ireland, he arrived in the United States, where he continued ministry in New England states and other locations along the Atlantic coast, including Manhattan, Long Island and Staten Island. He was the first priest to offer Mass in Patterson, New Jersey, and in Brooklyn, New York. 

In 1818, John Lefevre de Cheverus, the first bishop of Boston, Massachusetts, discovered Father Lariscy, whom later he valued as a possible vicar-general. In 1819, with financial assistance from the people in Newfoundland, Father Lariscy built St. Augustine Chapel in Dorchester Heights, South Boston, which is still used today for special occasions. The chapel is recognized as “the oldest standing Catholic church building in the Archdiocese.” During the four years he spent in the Boston area, Father Lariscy served the people in Salem, Lynn, Lowell and New Bedford, Ma. On June 25, 1890, John Gilmary Shea, editor for the New York The Catholic News, wrote, “probably the first priest to preach and hear confessions in Irish in Boston was Father Philip Lariscy, O.S.A., who built St. Augustine’s church.” On July 2, 1890, John G. Shea wrote in his column, “This hardworking priest built also a little church at New Bedford, which was the only shrine of Catholicity there for many years. After serving in New England he labored on Staten Island, in New Jersey and up the North River. He is one of the pioneer priests of Patterson. He finally retired to the house of his Order in Philadelphia and died there in the prime of life.”

Bishop Cheverus wrote of him, “He is strong and robust and pious. He has already brought back some hardened sinners. He preaches in Irish every Sunday at the first Mass…. He is a humble man and asks for nothing except work.”

In 1821, Father Lariscy left Boston for New York. He became a member of the community at St. Augustine Parish in Philadelphia, Pa., where he had performed sixty-four baptisms from December 27, 1822, to February 15, 1824.

Father Lariscy died on April 6, 1824 at the age of 42. He is buried in the vault at St. Augustine’s in Philadelphia.