Michael Ryan remembers a story he heard as a boy from his grandmother….From Centennial Book
My Dad was Joseph B. Ryan, the youngest surviving child of Michael Ethelbert Ryan and Ellen Mary (Noon) Ryan. They lived at 3611 Woodland Ave. One day in 1906, when my dad was a boy, there was a knock at the door and my widowed grandmother answered it to find a young priest standing on the porch. He introduced himself to my grandmother as Fr. John Keyes. The bishop had just sent him to this rural part of the city to found a church. (The city limit in those days was 39th St.!)
Mrs. Ryan asked young Father Keyes what she could do for him. He said she could help him by giving the names of her neighbors who were Catholic. The first name she gave him was that of her good friend, another widow with children, Mrs. Mulvihill who lived a block to the west. These two ladies then set about to secure an empty storefront on Woodland Avenue as a site for the first Mass the following Sunday. My grandmother provided an empty wooden crate for the altar and Mrs. Mulvihill provided a linen table cloth.
These two ladies were the whole altar society that year! And they were both the first parishioners: two Irish widows with children to raise. (Mr. Mulvihill, I believe, had been a grocer whereas my grandfather had been a policeman who had died at a young age, circa 1906)
The history of our parish community has always been filled with stories of the folks taking responsibility for the community