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Being a Catholic during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in St. Mary’s, the Passionist staffed parish in Dunkirk, NY, offered the chance to participate in numerous social and religious organizations. Passionist Father Mark Moeslein (1854-1946) began St. Mary’s Lyceum in order “to elevate and develop the young Catholic men of the parish…to defend their faith but also to take an intelligent part in the discussion of art, science, literature and politics.” Members had their first meeting on December 22, 1891 at the Columbus Hall. So successful was the venture that the three-story St. Mary’s Lyceum building was dedicated on June 30, 1892 and formally opened on January 31, 1893.

St. Mary’s Record published in 1905 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of St. Mary’s offered a commentary on some of the Catholic societies in the parish during that era. The Sons of St. Patrick began in 1852. St. Mary’s Temperance Society operated from 1861 until 1874. The Emerald Aids Society had its first meeting in 1876 and ceased its mission in 1885. Military organizations were The Knights of St. Patrick begun in 1880 and the Knights of St. Aloysius, its origins unknown. In 1878 the Catholic Mutual Benevolent Association began to care for widows and orphans while the L.C.B.A was a benefit society for women. Father Moeslein was an early supporter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Finally sodalities included the Infant Jesus Society, the Children of Mary’s Sodality, the Immaculate Conception Society and the League of the Sacred Heart. (Chronicles of St. Mary’s Retreat, Dunkirk, NY 1872-1904)

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