The design of St. Patrick’s is often credited to Rev. Patrick Moran, pastor of St. John’s Church on Mulberry Street in Newark, who was said to have an art and architectural background. Moran is credited with designing various alterations and additions to St. John’s.
Several scholars disagree. It was the opinion of Donald Geyer, Newark City Planner and architectural historian, that Brooklyn’s famous ecclesiastical architect, Patrick Charles Keely, may have collaborated with Moran. Geyer based his claim on an illustration of the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul completed in 1848 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that appears in a biography of Keely by architect Francis Kerwick. The church bears a striking resemblance to St. Patrick’s.
Of the cathedrals credited to Keely by Kerwick, Geyer lists “Newark, N.J., Saint Patrick,” as well as St. John the Baptist in Paterson. Among Keely’s parish churches in New Jersey, Kerwick names St. Patrick, St. Michael and St. Bridget in Jersey City and St. Peter in New Brunswick. James F. Johnson agrees with Geyer and wrote that “it was through the kind interest of Father Patrick Moran that Mr. Keeley (sic) obtained the Newark work which secured for him the drawing up of a design for St. Patrick’s.”
Although Moran had designed extensive alterations to St. John’s, it is difficult to imagine that a plan as complex as St. Patrick’s could have come from anyone other than a professional architect. It seems likely that Keely drew up the plans, incorporating suggestions from Moran.