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Father John Galligan


The tombstone memorial to Father John Galligan, first pastor of Saint Andrew Church, in Holy Cross Cemetery in Duxbury, Vermont.

We know very little about Father John Galligan -- the first pastor of Saint Andrew Parish. Only this very small picture is known to have survived. We do know that he was born in Ireland on June 24, 1845. He probably studied for the priesthood in Ireland. We do know that Bishop de Goësbriand recruited priests to serve in Vermont in Irish and French seminaries. So it is possible that he recruited Fr. Galligan on such a trip.

When he was appointed the first pastor of Saint Andrew Church in 1869, he was 24 years old. His pastoral responsibilities also included Catholics in Northfield, Moretown and the Mad River Valley.

In 1869, Bishop DeGoësbriand, established a parish in Waterbury and appointed Father John Galligan its first pastor. In 1870, the Diocese of Burlington purchased a house on Main Street to serve as a rectory. In addition to his duties in Waterbury, Father Galligan celebrated mass and looked after the spiritual needs of Catholics in Moretown and Northfield. On May 8, 1874, Bishop de Goësbriand attended mass at St. Vincent Church in Waterbury (perhaps presiding) during a mission conducted by two Redemptorist priests.

When the building adjacent to the rectory owned by the Society of Adventists became available, it was acquired by the diocese. After renovation and expansion, the Advent church, as it was known, was dedicated by Bishop DeGoŽsbriand on November 30, 1876 and named for Saint Andrew, the Apostle. With the opening of St. Andrew Church, old St. Vincent's church was closed and ownership eventually passed to others and the building was used for various purposes.

In October of 1876, a month before the dedication of Saint Andrew Church, Father Galligan moved to Northfield to become pastor of St. John Church. Reversing the prior arrangement, the churches in Waterbury and Moretown became missions of Northfield and Father Galligan said mass in Waterbury every other week. Father Duglué, pastor in Montpelier, left that post for reasons of health around 1877 or 1878. After returning from Europe, Father Duglué served in Waterbury for less than a year.

When he became pastor in Waterbury in 1869, Father Galligan was also responsible for missions in Northfield and Moretown. His transfer to Northfield changed nothing except his base of operation. That transfer was, most likely, a response to population shifts. The population of Northfield grew rapidly between 1850 and 1870 surpassing both Waterbury and Montpelier. In fact, Northfield's population in 1860 was about equal to the combined population of Waterbury and Montpelier. Most of the Northfield population influx was composed of Irish immigrants attracted by employment opportunities at the Vermont Central Railroad in Northfield. As a result, Father Galligan's flock in Northfield came to greatly outnumber his Waterbury flock.

In 1885, Father Joseph Brelivet replaced Father Galligan in Northfield looking after the spiritual needs of Catholics in Waterbury as well.

We do not know where Fr. Galligan served after his period of service in Waterbury and Northfield. We do know he was appointed pastor of St. John Church in Castleton in 1899. He died November 7, 1907 at the age of 62. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Duxbury, Vermont.


Father Galligan donated one of the stained glass windows in Saint Andrew church.


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