Times Square crowd in Fr. Duffy Square, watching the inauguration of Pres. Obama.
Father Francis Patrick Duffy (1871-1932), after whom this square was names, was a military chaplain and a priest in the Times Square area. Born in Cobourg, Canada, Father Duffy moved to New York City in 1893 to teach French at the College of St. Francis Xavier (now Xavier High School). He was later ordained as a priest and in 1898, he accepted a teaching position at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York, where he remained for the next fourteen years.
Father Duffy’s military service began in the Spanish-American War of 1898, serving as First Lieutenant and chaplain of the legendary Fighting 69th Infantry of the National Guard as well as Post Chaplain at the military hospital in Montauk Point, Long Island. In 1912, Father Duffy left St. Joseph’s Seminary and moved to New York City to establish the Parish of Our Savior in the Bronx.
In 1916, Father Duffy returned to the 69th Infantry, serving in Europe during World War I as part of the Rainbow Division and earning a number of medals. After the close of the war, Father Duffy returned to New York, and in 1920, was appointed pastor of the Holy Cross Church, located at 237 West 42nd Street. Serving the theater-district community for over a decade, Father Duffy died on June 26, 1932. In 1940 veteran character actor Pat O’Brien portrayed Duffy in the Hollywood film based on his life, The Fighting 69th, which also starred James Cagney.