Anthony Caffry

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Anthony Caffry
Personal details
Dublin, Ireland
DenominationCatholic Church

Anthony Caffry (d. 1811), sometimes spelled Caffrey[1] and recorded in Vatican documents as McCaffrey,[2] was an Irish Catholic priest who was a friar in the Order of Preachers. He is best known for being the founder and first pastor of St. Patrick's Church, the first Catholic church in Washington, D.C.


He was born near Newport, County Mayo, Ireland [3][4], and entered the Dominican Order in Esker in County Galway in 1777. Following his ordination, Father Caffry received a Doctor of Divinity degree from the Sorbonne in Paris.[4] In 1794, he traveled to the United States and was charged by Bishop John Carroll with erecting the first Catholic parish in the City of Washington. Caffry's decision to undertake this project was likely influenced by Irish architect James Hoban, who asked Caffry to consider the Irish who worked to build the new federal capital. He first began holding services in rented spaces in the beginning of the year,[5] but later built a modest, one-and-a-half story wood-frame church with the meager funds the parish had. The land on which it was built was purchased by Caffry on April 17, 1794 as two lots (numbers 5 and 6) on block 376 of the original plan of the District of Columbia between 9th and 10th Streets and F and G Streets.[2] For these two lots, he paid 80 pounds to its seller, the United State government.[6] During its establishment, he insisted that Leonard Neale, the coadjutor bishop of Baltimore, order the entire City of Washington be included within the territory of the parish. For ten years, Caffry resided as pastor of St. Patrick's in Washington. He resigned in 1804 when the parish required construction of a larger church,[6] and was succeeded by William Matthews.[5] He was then reassigned to New York, staying only three years before returning to Ireland. In 1811, he died suddenly in Dublin.[7]


  1. ^ Shea, John Gilmary (1888). "St. Patrick's Church". Life and Times of the Most Rev. John Carroll, Bishop and First Archbishop of Baltimore: Embracing the History of the Catholic Church in the United States. 1763-1815. John Gilmary Shea. p. 515. Archived from the original on September 16, 2018. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "St. Patrick's". When Washington was Irish. Archived from the original on September 16, 2018. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  3. ^ Diaz, Kevin (March 31, 2000). "God Is in the Real Estate". Washington City Paper. Archived from the original on April 19, 2018. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  4. ^ a b 1931-, MacGregor, Morris J., (1994). A parish for the federal city : St. Patrick's in Washington, 1794-1994. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 0813208017. OCLC 29636010.
  5. ^ a b Warner, William W. (1994). "Part I: Georgetown and the Maryland Tradition". At Peace with All Their Neighbors: Catholics and Catholicism in the National Capital, 1787-1860. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. pp. 25–26. ISBN 1589012437. Archived from the original on September 16, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "The Archdiocese and Province of Baltimore". The Catholic Church in the United States of America: Undertaken to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Holiness, Pope Pius X. New York: Catholic Editing Company. 1914. p. 117. Archived from the original on September 16, 2018. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  7. ^ McGreal, Mary Nona (2001). "Chapter 2: Preachers in the Service of Bishop John Carroll". The Order of Preachers in the United States: Dominicans at home in a young nation 1786-1865 (PDF). Volume 1: A Family History. Editions du Signe. ISBN 9782746805347. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 23, 2015.
Catholic Church titles
New office 1st Pastor of St. Patrick's Church
Succeeded by
William Matthews