Biography of Rev. Cornelius D. O’Rorke

Since 1926 Rev. Cornelius D. O’Rorke has been pastor of St. Christopher’s Church at Tiverton, Rhode Island.

St. Christopher’s parish was formerly a mission attached to St. Patrick’s parish of Fall River, Massachusetts. In 1895 Rev. M. E. Cook, then pastor of St. Patrick’s, built the first Catholic Church in Tiverton. It was a summer church, situated on Highland Road, open only during July and August, and known as St. Peter’s-by-the-Sea. In 1908 St. Peter’s-by-the-Sea was attached to St. Anthony’s parish of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, of which Rev. C. J. Rooney, C. S. Sp., was then pastor. Father Rooney gave careful attention to this new part of his parish, and in 1910 built on the corner of Main Road and Lawrence Avenue a new mission church which was placed under the patronage of St. Christopher. Later, he sold St. Peter’s-by-the-Sea. For sixteen years St. Christopher’s continued as a mission of St. Anthony’s parish, but at the end of that time, in 1926, it was made a separate parish with Rev. Cornelius D. O’Rorke as its first pastor.

Rev. Cornelius D. O’Rorke was born in Ireland and received his early and academic education there. After graduation from Black Rock College, in Dublin, Ireland, in 1888, he entered the National University where he took his degrees in Arts. He then went to Paris for special training for his chosen life work and spent five years there studying philosophy and theology in Holy Ghost Seminary, where he was ordained a priest in 1891. For four years after his ordination he taught the classics in Ireland and then was transferred to St. Mary’s College, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, British West Indies, where he was engaged in teaching for fifteen years. He then came to this country, in 1911, and after five years of teaching in Connecticut and in Virginia and Pennsylvania was appointed assistant to Rev. C. J. Rooney, C. S. Sp., pastor of St. Anthony’s Church at Portsmouth, Rhode Island. In that capacity he was placed in charge of St. Christopher’s Church, at Tiverton, then a mission of St. Anthony’s. Upon the retirement of Father Rooney, in 1919, Father O’Rorke was made pastor of St. Anthony’s Church. During his pastorate there he accomplished a large amount of work, making many improvements. He enlarged St. Anthony’s Church, greatly developed and stimulated the activities of the parish, and devoted much attention to local missions, building St. Teresa’s Church at Sakonnet Point and St. Madeleine Sophie’s Church on Lake Road at East Four Corners. In 1926 he was appointed pastor of St. Christopher’s Church at Tiverton, Rhode Island, where he has since been devoting his time to the advancement of the interests of that parish. The parish numbers some five hundred souls, and Father O’Rorke has the entire confidence and the loyalty of his parishioners. His faithfulness and his ability have won for him the respect of the community as well as the high esteem of his own people.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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