Thomas Galberry, O.S.A.

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1833 – 1878 (October 10)

Thomas Galberry, son of Thomas Galberry and Margaret Byrnes, was born in Naas, County Kildare, Ireland on May 28, 1833. His family immigrated to the United States in 1836 and settled in Philadelphia where Thomas studied classics at Villanova College from 1847 to 1851. He entered the novitiate in January, 1852 and made solemn profession on January 4, 1853. Following theological studies at Villanova, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John Neumann on December 20, 1856 at Saint Augustine Church, Philadelphia.

Father Galberry taught at Villanova for two years, and then was assigned as rector at Saint Denis in Ardmore, Pa., and, in 1860, was transferred to Saint Augustine, Lansingburg, New York. There he planned and saw the construction of a new church, in which he celebrated the first Mass on Christmas Eve, 1865. He was appointed Commissary General of the Commissariat of Our Lady of Good Counsel on November 30, 1866 by the Prior General. In February, 1870, he became pastor of Saint Mary’s Church, Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he completed the construction of the new church begun by Father Louis Edge. In July 1872, he became prior of the Villanova Monastery and was elected president of the college. 

In December, 1874, Father Galberry convened a Chapter to elect the first Provincial of the new Province by directive of the Prior General. On December 16, 1874 he was elected to the office. Shortly after, in February, 1875, as he was returning to Villanova from a visitation of the communities, he became aware of his appointment to the See of Hartford, Connecticut. He declined, expressing his intentions to the Holy See, but this was not accepted. On March 19, 1876, he was consecrated the fourth Bishop of Hartford in Saint Peter’ Church in that city by Archbishop Williams of Boston. He set about familiarizing himself with the diocese, its clergy, religious and faithful, and began a plan to erect the first cathedral. In the late Spring of 1877 he made his ad limina visit to Rome.

Bishop Galberry was on his way by train to visit Villanova when he died on October 10, 1878 in New York City at the age of 45. Father Pacifico Neno, who was his successor as Prior Provincial, and who arrived in New York at the news of the bishop’s extreme condition, wrote to the Prior General, “In the midst of the solemn scene of his very early and sudden passing I had the great consolation in seeing the devotion, the affection and profound sorrow expressed in the faces and actions of his priests, who on hearing of his illness hurried to his bedside. They truly loved him as a father, and they venerated him as a saint and they esteemed him as the most zealous, active and benevolent bishop they had known.”

The funeral took place in the crypt of the cathedral which had been completed earlier in the year. Present were nine bishops, 150 diocesan priests and 18 friars of the Province, as well as a dozen from other congregations. Following the Mass, 10 of our friars carried his body to the vault of the crypt where it remained until it was later removed to Mount Saint Benedict Cemetery in Bloomfield, Hartford County.