Walworth, Clarence A.
- Existence: 1830 - 1920
Clarence A. Walworth was born at Plattsburg, N.Y., May 30, 1820, the fourth child and eldest son of Reuben H. Walworth, the last chancellor of the State of New York. His early education was received at the Albany Academy. He attended Union College, Schenectady, and graduated in 1838. At the earnest wish of his father he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1841. But his religious tendencies were too powerful to be resisted by any human ambition however laudable, and after a brief period of law practice he entered the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in New York City, and studied there for three years.
He was received into the Catholic Church in 1845, and soon after entered the Redemptorist novitiate in Belgium, being accompanied by Isaac T. Hecker, who had come into the church about a year before. In 1848 Clarence Walworth, having finished his studies, was ordained priest in Holland. The next two years were spent in England engaged in mission and parochial work as a Redemptorist; after which, again accompanied by Father Hecker, he returned to America. These two young Redemptorists, joined by another convert, Father Augustine Hewit, began to give missions in the United States in 1851, being trained thereto by Father Bernard Hafkenscheid, a Dutch Redemptorist, and one of the most distinguished mission preachers of his age. The group was thereafter joined by Fathers George Deshon and Francis Baker, both converts.
In 1858 these five missionaries became the first members of the Paulist Community, of which Father Hecker was chosen Superior. The excessive fatigues of his fifteen years of continuous Catholic missions were, Father Walworth believed, the means of breaking down his originally robust constitution. His continued ill-health, with occasional attacks of very severe illness, finally led to his leaving the Paulists.
Returning to his native diocese, he was for a time placed in charge of St. Peter's Church, Troy, and in 1866 was made rector of St. Mary's Church, Albany. After a career in that parish, of remarkable usefulness both to his parishioners and to his fellow-citizens generally, Father Walworth departed to his eternal reward September 19, 1900.