Since 1932, the priests of Nativity have offered Mass on the Reading Railroad’s Pier for the convenience of railroad workers, seamen and dockworkers. However, it was the dream of several men, particularly Mr. Edward Galligan, that some day a private chapel could be built to furnish a devotional place of worship. Nativity people are more than dreamers; they are workers and lovers especially of the Mass. And so the chapel of Our Lady of Port Richmond was built and a dream came true.
The first Mass in the new chapel was celebrated by Monsignor John E. Boyle, the Archdiocesan Director for the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. A large number of parishioners attended, many of them were the men and women who were responsible for the construction, the furnishing and the decorating of this new chapel of Mary. Also, in attendance were officials of the Reading Company and of the Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who collaborated in the planning and construction of the chapel.
Our people in the Port Richmond community continued to hear Mass at seamen’s chapel even as shipping traffic declined in the 1970’s. In 1976, the Reading Railroad was absorbed into Conrail, and the shipping port closed altogether by 1983. The chapel itself was demolished in the late 1980’s, along with the piers. The spirit of the chapel lives on today as Our Lady of Port Richmond Regional Catholic School, which opened in 2008 when the schools of the three parishes on Allegheny Avenue merged into the former St. Adalbert’s School.
There are many who remember Eddie Galligan, especially his friend and helper Dan McFadden, going aboard and arousing the sailors for Sunday Mass. In many ways the story of the chapel of Our Lady of Port Richmond on the Delaware is the story of Eddie Galligan, a strong man of faith, a gentle and caring man whose love of God and his fellow man led to a dream come true. He cared for his chapel until his death on December 23, 1980 at the age of 81.