History of St. Patrick
In 1831 immigrant laborers, many of them Catholic, settled in the Borough of Norristown to work in constructing a railroad between Philadelphia and Reading. With no Catholic church in Norristown, this meant traveling to Manayunk to worship. In 1834 Bishop Kenrick gave Father David Mulholland permission to start a parish in Norristown and when a Mr. Patrick Flynn came up with the necessary $100 needed to complete startup costs, a grateful pastor announced that the church would be placed under the patronage of St. Patrick.
The first church was completed in 1839 on Washington St. above Cherry on land donated by Bernard McCready. In 1840 Bishop Kenrick came to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation for the first time in the parish. Bishop Neumann, later canonized a saint, administered Confirmation in 1852 and 1855.
During the Civil War the parish continued to grow. A new church site was selected at Lafayette and Cherry Streets; groundbreaking was held in 1859 and construction was completed in 1864. St. Patrick School opened in September of 1875 staffed by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
During these years the Pennsylvania Railroad had laid tracks in front of the church, resulting in the depreciation of parish property and an excessive amount of noise and dirt associated with the steam engines of the day. After a suit was filed against the Railroad, lasting several years, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1889 awarded St. Patrick Church $24,000 to recompense the parish. This allowed Father Shannon to purchase land at 700 DeKalb Street to begin the construction of a school and new church for the still growing parish. The school was completed and blessed in 1895. Parishioners gathered for the groundbreaking of the new church in 1905 and in 1907 for the dedication of the church. The statue of St. Patrick in front of the church was installed and blessed in 1920. The painting of the Crucifixion above the main altar is a copy of the original painting that graced the Lafayette St. church, which had been destroyed by fire.
As Norristown grew over the years, the boundaries of St. Patrick gave birth to new parishes: Holy Saviour’s in 1903, St. Helena’s in 1919, St. Francis’ in 1923 and St. Paul’s in 1963. The 150th Anniversary of St. Patrick’s was celebrated in 1985 and we continue a strong parish serving God and our diverse community into the 21st century.