Father James T. O'Reilly

Portrait of Father James T. O'Reilly

Father James T. O'Reilly was perhaps the most influential church leader in the history of Lawrence. He led the Catholic population of Lawrence as the head of Saint Mary's church, the largest Catholic church in Lawrence and one that is still standing today. He helped create separate Catholic churches for Greeks, Syrians, Portuguese, and Lithuanians.

He was decidedly against the strike and was very wary of radical political and labor agitation. His patriotism was unbounded as he frequently hosted patriotic displays. His most famous act related to the strike was his organizing of the "God and Country" parade in May 1912. The parade was in direct response to the radical and atheistic tendencies of the IWW. who at the end of the strike held a victory parade included in which was a banner that read "No God, No Master." This enraged Father O'Reilly and led him to organize the parade involving over 100,000 people that would leave an indelible mark on the remembrance of the 1912 strike and labor militancy in Lawrence.