St. Francis Xavier, New York, N.Y. — This parish had its origin in 1847, when Father John Larkin and three other Jesuits had charge of a church in Elizabeth Street near Walker Street, which was dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. The basement of the church served as an academy with 120 scholars. The church was burned down on January 28, 1848. It was decided not to rebuild on the old site, so Father Larkin sold the property and rented a house at 3rd Avenue, where he continued the school.
To quote an appreciative historian of the parish: "Father Larkin having been obliged to make a hurried trip to Europe in order to escape the honor of being 'Bishop of Toronto,'"
Father John Ryan, S.J., succeeded Father Larkin as rector, and continued the latter's search for a proper location for a permanent college, and after some time, the property in West 15th and 16th Streets, on which the college now stands, was purchased. "The cornerstone of the first church erected in honor of St. Francis Xavier in New York was laid on September 24, 1850, and the church was completed early in the following summer. Archbishop Hughes officiated at the dedication, which occurred on July 6, 1851. At the solemn vesper service on the same day, Rev. P. N. Lynch, D.D., preached and, 27 years later (1878), the same prelate, having since become Bishop of Charleston, preached at the laying of the cornerstone of the present grand edifice, the new Church of St. Francis Xavier in West 16th Street. The college was opened on November 25, 1850. . . . The front elevation is considered to be the best specimen of Roman architecture we have, and the plan of the same was for many years after used by the Building Department of this city in the examination of building inspectors." Among the early Fathers connected with the college were: Fathers Patrick Dealy, Hector Glackmeyer, Henry Hudon, Joseph Durthaller, Theodore Thiry, Joseph Shea, Joseph Loyzance, John Cunningham, Francis Cazeau, Francis X. Renaud, Peter Cassidy, Patrick Gleason, William Pardow, Augustus "Gus" Langcake, Hippolytus DeLuynes, Samuel Frisbee, Thomas Freeman, Maurice Ronayne, Louis Jouin, Isidore Daubresse, Henry Duranquet, John Prendergast, Nilus McKinnon and David Merrick. The present rector of the parish, Rev. Joseph H. Rockwell, is also president of the college and of the Xavier High School. The parochial schools, established in 1857, are conducted by 4 Brothers of the Christian Schools, 8 Sisters of Charity and 9 lay teachers, and have an attendance of 520 boys and 490 girls. Attended from St. Francis Xavier's, are: St. Joseph's Home for the Aged, St. Vincent's Hospital, Nazareth Day Nursery, Sisters of Jesus Mary (West 14th Street), New York Hospital and Ward's and Randall's Islands. The population of the parish numbers 5000, and the church property is valued at $900,000, with a debt of about $130,000.