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[177] He was educated at St. John's College, at Waterford, Ireland, where, after his graduation, he served three years as professor of theology and philosophy. In his native town, when he was in the twenty-fourth year of his age, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Foran. Several months afterward he came to Baltimore and was assigned to Frostburg, being the first pastor of that parish. He was there only a short time, and although his work promised rich results, he was recalled and sent to assist in the Diocese of Richmond, then under Bishop John McGill. He was placed in charge of the work at Norfolk, where he remained for thirty-five years.

In 1855 the yellow fever broke out in Norfolk and Portsmouth, just across the river. It was during this plague that Father O'Keefe did the work that made his name famous throughout the South. He worked among the people like a hero, nursing the sick, administering the last rites of the Church to the dying, and burying the dead. He buried more than half his congregation during the epidemic.

In 1856, the year after the yellow fever plague, his church (St. Patrick's) was burnt down, but he rebuilt it, and also commenced the present St. Mary's Church of the Immaculate Conception.

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