The 2nd state to be admitted to the United States on 12 December 1787.
Pennsylvania has reason to be proud of its record for religious liberty, established by William Penn, and marred only by some attempts at discrimination against Catholics in the reign of William III and during the French and Indian War.
Father Jean Pierron, S.J., is thought to have ministered to the few Catholics in Pennsylvania during a journey to the Maryland mission in 1673-1674, and there is evidence of a chapel existing in Philadelphia on Walnut Street in 1686.
The certain beginnings of Catholicity date from the coming of Father Joseph Greaton, S.J., as a resident missionary, about 1730.
Three years later Saint Joseph's Church was built on Fourth Street, for a congregation of fewer than 50, their numbers increasing rapidly however through Irish and German immigration.
A colony of Germans at Goshenhoppen (now Bally), about 45 miles from Philadelphia, was served in 1741 by a German Jesuit, Father Theodore Schneider, who combined the profession of medicine with his apostolate and was indefatIgable in his ministry to German Catholics within a radius that also included New Jersey.
His little chapel of Saint Paul's, of which a wall is still incorporated in the later church of the Blessed Sacrament, was built in 1745, with the assistance of Mennonite and Moravian neighbors.
In 1742 a log chapel of the Sacred Heart was built at Conewago by Father William Wappeler, S.J., and a little later the church of Saint John Nepomucene at Lancaster, with Father Ferdinand Farmer (Steinmeyer), a future trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, as its first pastor, in 1751.
In 1749 Father Greaton, who had been assisted at Saint Joseph's by Father Henry NeaIe, was succeeded by Father Robert Harding, and in 1758 Father Farmer joined him from Lancaster.
The two priests traveled widely, baptizing and offering Mass in private homes.
In the city the growing numbers of Catholics made necessary the building of Saint Mary's Church in 1763, Saint Joseph's being retained as an auxiliary chapel; five years later the Germans of Philadelphia began the erection of their church of the Holy Trinity on Sixth Street.
Catholic influence on the place-names of the state is shown in the following:
Ecclesiastically the state is goverened by the archdiocese of
and the dioceses of
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are respectively the episcopal seats of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Diocese, and the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Greek Rite, both nation-wide.
- Mount Carmel
- Saint Benedict
- Saint Bonifacius
- Saint Charles
- Saint Clair
- Saint Davids
- Saint Johns
- Saint Joseph
- Saint Lawrence
- Saint Marys
- Saint Michael
- Saint Nicholas
- Saint Peters
- Saint Thomas
- Vera Cruz
New Catholic Dictionary