The Friars of Thirty-First Street, Part 6 – Fr. Eugene Dikovich, O.F.M.

The fourth pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, Fr. Andrew Pfeiffer, returned to his native Tyrol in 1872 and was a professor of dogmatic theology until his death six years later. Fr. Theophilus Pospisilik, the fifth pastor, taught moral theology for 15 years and succeeded Fr. Leo da Saracena as the seventh President of Saint Bonaventure College from 1880 until 1886. He returned home to Bohemia and died in 1896. One historian described Fr. Theophilus as “a priest of the greatest integrity, grave in mien, deeply religious, and faithful in the performance of every duty. He had shown his worth during his years of pastoral ministry in Saint Francis Parish. He brought to Saint Bonaventure the same zealous devotion to the best interests of the Church and the Order.”

The 12-year pastorate of Fr. Eugene Dikovich, the sixth pastor, was characterized by intense activity. He was a friar from Moson, Hungary, and before coming to America as a missionary, was a well-known and extremely popular preacher in the collegiate church in Tirnavia, and the Franciscan church in Strigonium. He was an excellent choice as pastor of New York’s busy midtown church. Fr. Eugene was a capable administrator as well as a zealous missionary in his approach to ministry in the expanding metropolis. He realized well the need for a new church, but settled for internal and external renovations, a new school, and a new organ. He increased the school enrollment to over 300, established a great variety of lay societies and associations to involve the people in the spiritual and corporal works of the community, and highlighted the role of good music in the liturgy of the church.

When Fr. Eugene resigned as pastor in 1882, he departed from the Franciscan Order and was incardinated into the Newark diocese where he served as pastor of Saint Mark’s Church in Rahway, New Jersey. In 1884 he was appointed pastor of Saint Boniface Church in Paterson, New Jersey. The Italian friars in Allegany did not have a German-speaking friar to send to Saint Francis Church when Fr. Eugene resigned. They turned to the German friars in Paterson, New Jersey who had come from Fulda, and another link was forged between St. Francis Church and the friars who would eventually become Holy Name Province.

This series of articles on the history of our parish is adapted from the writings of Fr. Flavian Walsh, O.F.M., Pastor from 1985-87.

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Categories News | Tags: | Posted on November 22, 2018