St. Patrick’s was originally a mission parish from Urbana. The Bellefontaine area is where many Irish immigrants had settled, owing to the construction of the railroads. The first Mass in 1851 was in a parishioner’s home and celebrated by Rev. Maurice Howard, who was pastor of St. Raphael’s in Springfield. After visiting Bellefontaine in 1852 Archbishop Purcell advised that a church be built for his fellow Irishman and women. Construction began in 1853 and on Christmas Day of 1953, Fr. Thomas Sheehan (the first pastor) said the first Mass and dedicated the church.
Fr. John Coveney, of Ireland, in 1862 established the first school by using the skills he gained as a Jesuit. In 1869 John Powers, a mentally unstable man, shot and killed Fr. Coveney and was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the Southern Ohio Lunatic Asylum in Dayton.
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