Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

Chapter 19
Church Denominational History

Part 4
The Catholic Churches


By the Rev. Father John J. Lilly.

The history of Catholicity in Springfield, Missouri, is merely a repetition of the history of a thousand different communities in this western country. Some hardy soul leaves the outposts of civilization and braving hardships and privations, enter and conquer new lands. Others follow the path then blazed and soon a scattered community is formed. The Catholic church, ever mindful of the spiritual welfare of these pioneers, sends out her missionaries, who quickly organize parishes, erect churches and schools, and of them can be said, "They who sow in tears shall reap in joy."

In the year 1853 members of the Catholic faith settled in and near Springfield, Missouri, attracted by the information given of the climate, price of land and advantages offered to men of industrious habits. In the course of time others located here. There being no priest, many were obliged to go to Rolla or St. Louis to comply with their religious duties. It was only after the Civil war that arrangements were made to have a resident priest. In 1865 the Most Reverend Peter Richard Kenrick Archbishop of St. Louis, was informed of the desire of the Catholics of Springfield to have a resident priest, requested the Rev. F. W. Graham, of Rolla, to go to Springfield and obtain knowledge of the state of affairs, number of Catholics and prospects for a local pastor. Father Graham came to Springfield, March 5, 1866, on horseback, tired, hungry and a stranger in the midst of strangers hitched his horse to a tree on the banks of the Jordan, near Boonville street. Making inquiries, he found the residence of Mr. William Dailey, and met with a hearty Irish welcome. The first mass was celebrated in that residence, which still stands north of the St. James hotel, on the east side of Boonville street. After meeting with the Catholics and obtaining all necessary information requested by Archbishop Kenrick; on Sunday, 9th of March, mass was celebrated in the Baptist church, on South street, then used for school purposes, a frame building which yet stands not far from the present First Baptist church, he returned to Rolla by stage coach, March 5th. Some months after he went to St. Louis and gave the archbishop full information concerning the affairs at Springfield and his opinion that it would be well to place a resident priest there. October 22, 1867, Father Graham came again to Springfield and held, on the 27th divine services in the Phelps Hall, located where the Woodruff building now stands, St. Louis and Jefferson; returned to Rolla the 28th.

In January, 1868, the archbishop appointed Father Graham pastor of Springfield, with jurisdiction over all southwest Missouri, and made this city his residence January 22nd. Services were held in the Phelps Hall until the Kelso College building, on North Campbell and Pine streets, was purchased; the college and lots costing three thousand nine hundred dollars and remodeled, became the first Catholic church of this city, under the title of Immaculate Conception; the residence of Father Graham was near by. This church was used until the large brick church was erected. It was moved to new church property and became the boys' day school of this parish. The property on which the Loretto Academy is located was bought and a colony of the Sisters of Mercy of St. Louis opened a Catholic school. After a few years they returned to St. Louis, and in 1878 the Sisters of Loretto came and opened a young ladies' academy. [619]

The building of the "Southwest" railroad, now the Frisco, brought many Catholics, and Father Graham began missions at different points westward to the then Indian Territory, which have become parishes with local pastors. In 1872 Rev. T. Kussman became assistant to Father Graham, attending the outside missions and the German Catholics. In 1872 Father Graham was sent to Sedalia, Missouri, and in 1882 to St. Joseph, Missouri. He died on November 20, 1907.

Father Graham lived to see four elegant churches, four parochial schools. and two academies in what was the first parish, in Springfield; the Catholic population from one hundred and fourteen in 1868 to three thousand five hundred in 1906. Population of Springfield from one thousand to over thirty thousand.

Rev. Francis W. Graham was born in Dublin, Ireland, July 4, 1837, son of William Graham and Elizabeth Mason; passed his boyhood in his native city, attending Henry Moran's Academy, where he studied the classics. In 1854 he crossed the Atlantic, going to Chicago, and thence to Ottawa, Illinois. In 1859 he proceeded to St. Louis, Missouri, and in the fall of that year became a seminarian in St. Vincent's Seminary, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where he spent six years. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Kenrick in the old cathedral, Walnut street, St. Louis, September 23, 1865; appointed assistant at St. John's church; pastor at Rolla, 1865-66 to 69.

Few priests were more devoted to their charge than was Father Graham. He took the keenest interest in the welfare of his flock and he kept in close touch with them; the sick received his personal attention and he was greatly beloved by them. When he came to Springfield the dark clouds of war and battle hovered over the land-distress and sadness everywhere; sorrow and death; in every family; wounds yet bleeding; friends of other days at enmity now. Business affairs were demoralized, but nothing daunted the youthful priest—he took up his residence in Springfield and began his career of labor and toil in the vineyard of the Lord. No pen can picture the hardships, anxiety and privations which fell to his lot in the vast field committed to his care. At all seasons, by day or by night, to travel far and near attending to the sick and workmen at the railroad camps; those days of active and arduous work were to him a great pleasure, as his parishioners were honest and sincere in their reception of him, and though he traveled many miles, on horseback, in stages or on foot, he was happy fulfilling his sacred calling. Southwest Missouri holds in grateful memory this energetic, kind and devoted priest. His name is held in benediction.

In 1914 a beautiful art glass window was placed in the north wall of the church by a personal friend—a worthy memorial. [620]


The priesthood of the Catholic church of Missouri has no better loved representative than the Very Rev. Father John J. Lilly, pastor of the Immaculate Conception church at Springfield. . He is a native of Fairfield, Kentucky, and traces his ancestry back to Ireland, and later England, whence Samuel Lilly came in 1730 to the new world. He was the father of Richard Lilly, whose son, John Lilly, a native of Maryland, became the grandfather of the Rev. John J. Lilly. His parents were John H. and Mary E. (Moore) Lilly, the former, a native of Kentucky and the latter of Maryland. All the Lilly family, preceding John H. Lilly, were natives of Maryland, but the grandfather removed from that state to Kentucky.

The Rev. John J. Lilly pursued his early college work in Bardstown College of Kentucky, but was graduated magna cum laude at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1873, and on the 22nd of May, of that year, was ordained to the priesthood by the Right Rev. P. J. Ryan, coadjutor at St. Louis. Father Lilly's first charge was at St. Ma:ry's, Missouri, but soon that field of labor became too small, f of the young, energetic, ecclesiastic, and a greater field was given to him in September, 1878, when he was made pastor of the Catholic church at Lexington, Missouri. In 1880, when the Right Rev. J. J. Hogan, bishop of St. Joseph, Missouri, was transferred to Kansas City, Missouri, as the first bishop of this newly erected diocese, his attention was at once directed to the rare ability of the pastor at Leginton. Father Lilly soon enjoyed the full confidence of his new ecclesiastical superior and in 1887 was chosen as one of the Bishop's consultors and was furthermore named-procurator fiscalis. This latter office requires a prudent man with a great deal of experience and for years Rev. John J. Lilly performed the duties of that position to the entire satisfaction of his bishop. By the request of' Right Rev. J. J. Hogan, Father Lilly was appointed irremovable rector of the Immaculate Conception church, at Springfield, Missouri, in 1893. Here twenty-one years of his life have been spent in hard labor, yet crowned with great success. During these long years he has made hosts of friends in Springfield, gaining new ones every day. Right Rev. Thomas F. Lillis, once a parishoner of Father Lilly, but now bishop of Kansas City, his ecclesiastical superior, shares with the late Bishop J. J. Hogan, a high esteem for the still active rector of the Immaculate Conception parish. When the public library was established in Springfield and some of the most prominent men of the city were chosen as its first trustees, Father Lilly was among the number. Under his wise direction and prudent counsel the Loretto Academy grew to a very flourishing institution for the higher education of young ladies. The establishment of another institution of higher education, St. de Chantel of Visitation (Elfindale), is to a great extent the work of the Very Rev. John J. Lilly. [621]


By The Rev. Father Daniel L. Healy


Complying with the urgently expressed wishes of special parochial delegations, His Lordship, The Rt. Rev. John Joseph Hogan who had then, recently been translated from the diocese of St. Joseph, Missouri, to the newly-made diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, authorized the foundation of a second church, at Springfield, Missouri, and the organization of the new parish was entrusted to the Rev. Father Francis O'Neill, whose ordination had taken place on the second day of June, 1882, at Allegany, New York, The Rt.. Rev. Bishop Ryan of Buffalo, pontificating.

Father O'Neill, the first appointee and pastor, had recently attained his twenty-second year, when raised to the sacerdotal dignity, and very shortly thereafter, the important under-taking of upbuilding a new parish, demanded his most persistent and self-consuming energies, as well as the heartiest cooperation of his parishioners, numbering approximately one hundred families.

Having no church edifice, wherein to worship, religious services were, for some time both on Sundays and holy days, conducted at the neighboring residence of Mr. Cornelius Carr, and subsequently, during the erection of the church, primitively entitled St. Mary's, Rev. Father O'Neill availed himself of the ground-floor of the pastoral residence, where the faithful continued to assemble for divine service on Sundays and other days of obligation, until the new church was ready for occupancy.

Possibly, the first cash contribution to the contemplated sacred edifice, was that of His Lordship, The Rt. Rev. Bishop Hogan, who having authorized the foundation, proved himself a zealous supporter of the noble undertaking, for whose accomplishment, meritorious, commendable efforts, persistent, arduous labors, and countless, generous sacrifices were continually cooperating, but, alas! the holy temple, so recently erected, was inevitably doomed to unexpected, partial destruction.

According to Rev. Father O'Neill, November 4, 1884, two years after his arrival, must ever remain a memorable date, both in the annals of Springfield, and in the archives of the new parish, for at two o'clock p. m., Tuesday, November 4, 1884, an irresistible cyclone frightfully shattered the west wall of St. Mary's church, partially burying the tabernacle, demolishing upper portions of the side walls, uplifting and hurling the church roof to Locust street, and leaving an appalling wake of wreckage, destruction and death, to perpetuate its unannounced and unwelcome visitation. [622]

The rebuilding of the church necessitated appeals to other cities, where Charity, with sympathetic encouragement, opened Her loving, consolatory hands, and pastor, friends and people were profoundly and gratefully rejoiced to witness the reconstruction of the recently seriously damaged St. Mary's church.

Pending the undoing of those cyclonic ravages in St. Mary's parish, Rev. Father O'Neill continued to reassemble his severely afflicted congregation at the pastoral residence for Sunday services, and, having expended several thousand dollars, collected here and elsewhere, in the noble work of reconstruction, the glorious occasion of re-entering the renovated church edifice arrived; thereafter the parish formerly called St. Mary's, was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Rev. Father O'Neill's pastorate of the parish, formerly St. Mary's, subsequently, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, dated from November 1, 1882, and closed in February, 1887; he has, accordingly, devoted nearly a third of a century to the service of his Divine Master, to the thirty-three years already accorded him, may Heaven graciously grant at least two more decades, and may his many well-wishers, both clerical and laical, cocelebrate with Father O'Neill, his glorious, golden, sacerdotal jubilee.


The last-named pastor, whose motherland was Old Erin, the world-renowned, "Isle of saints and scholars," having attained the very lofty goal of his noble, spiritual ambition, when the sacred priesthood was conferred on him at St. Patrick's College, Carlow, Ireland, imitating countless thousands, of his compatriots, sought as the vineyard of his life work, the great and grand, but only partially developed, Commonweal of Missouri.

Arriving at Kansas City, Missouri, in the prime of his manhood, he was first assigned as assistant to the Rev. Father Bernard Donnelly, the famous priest pioneer of the then, unimportant Westport Landing, subsequently, Kansas City Missouri, and presently, classifiable as one of the world's great metropolises.

From Kansas City, Missouri, Father Curran was appointed pastor of Higginsville, Missouri, with attached out-missions, where he labored four years; thence recalled to the Cathedral of Kansas City, Missouri, he there served as assistant pastor to The Rt. Rev. John J. Hogan, D. D. Father Curran's next appointment was to the Cathedral of St. Joseph, Missouri, where after a pastorate of less than a twelve-month, he was designated as pastor of the Sacred Heart Church of Springfield, Missouri, in February, 1887, still continuing under the jurisdiction of The Rt. Rev. Bishop Hogan. [623]

For many years Father Curran, unassisted, administered the Sacred Heart Parish; the church was enlarged, a school building erected, a parish auditorium was super-imposed, religious teachers were secured and installed, and other, untold efforts for the spiritualizing of his congregation were frequently witnessed.

Rev. Father Curran was elevated to the dignity of Dean, and he continued to spend himself in the service of his Godly Master; declining health, however unfortunately necessitated the appointment of an assistant, and accordingly to The Rev. Father T. J. Fortune, Was committed the care of the Sacred Heart Parish, while Very Rev. Dean Curran sought, alas unsuccessfully to recuperate in the land of his birth.

A very notable and memorable event in Dean Curran's life, during the assistantship of Rev. Father Fortune, was the solemnization of Very Rev. Father Curran's priestly, silver jubilee, in June, 1902; at this celebration, there were present the following Rt. Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend clergymen: Rt. Rev. John J. Glennon, Coadjutor Bishop of Kansas City, presently, the illustrious Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri; The Very Rev. Thomas F. Lillis, pastor of St. Patrick's church, actually the very successful Bishop of Kansas City Missouri; Very Rev. Dr. P. T. X. O'Reilly, who died two years ago, as chaplain of Elfindale, Missouri; The Very Rev. J. J. Lilly, Springfield, Missouri; The Very Rev. Father Hayden, Topeka, Kansas; Rev. M. J. O'Reilly, Joplin, Missouri; Rev. Austin Hull, Galena, Kansas; Rev. Bernard McNamee, Peirce Citv, Missouri; Rev. Bernard Tell, Monett, Missouri; Rev. Father Maurus, O. S. B., Springfield, Missouri; Rev. J. M. Sheridan, Clinton, Missouri; Rev. Father McLaughlin, Rolla, Missouri; Rev. Father Gilfillan, St. Louis, Missouri; Rev. P. O'Rourke, St. Louis, Missouri; Rev. Father Dooley, St. Louis, Missouri; Rev. Father Head, St. Louis, Missouri; and a visiting priest from Iowa and Rev. Father Fortune, assistant to Father Curran. The celebrant of the Mass was the jubilarian, Very Rev. Dean Curran; the deacon, Father O'Laughlin; the sub-deacon, Father Head; and the eulogist, Very Rev. Dr. O'Reilly, pastor New Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri.

The infirmities, under which Father Curran labored, defied all efforts at successful treatment; again, the afflicted pastor sought relief in New Mexico and Ireland; here the Rev. Father Curran underwent a serious, surgical operation which resulted in the temporary and encouraging betterment of the priestly patient; shortly, thereafter, however, Father Curran was evidently hastening to the close of his sacerdotal career of twenty-seven years. The end came, on June 4, 1904, whilst Rev. Father Curran was visiting St. Louis, still persistently seeing that health restoration, unhappily not to be realized, and the lamented, departed pastor of the Sacred Heart Parish was impressively consigned to another earth, in Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri, where his body awaits the eternal and universal, human awakening. [624]


Reluctantly and regretfully do I confess my inability to do more than partial justice to the subject of this biographical sketch, for many years my friend, and for nearly a quarter of a century, a brother-priest, laboring in the same, spacious vineyard, under identical, episcopal jurisdiction.

Had it occurred to me, many years ago, during our earlier acquaintanceship, that I should ever be appealed to, in order to perform the saddening duty of biographer to the lamented Father Ryan, an ample fund of pertinent information, presently, easily adaptable, would be in my possession.

The good, unassuming, God-loving, soul-seeking Rev. Father Ryan, having received Holy Orders from the anointed hands of the Venerable Bishop Hogan, of blessed memory-now sleeping his long, last steep, before the massive, bronzed cemetery crucifix, in Mt. St. Mary's, Kansas City, Missouri, and there peacefully awaiting the archangelic trumpet's revivifying, resurrection-call, to the judgment, universal-labored for years, as pastor of St. Patrick's Church, Holden, Missouri, to which pastorate, there was attached an Out-Mission, at Black Water.

Here, the duties of his Divine calling necessitated considerable exposure, and entailed hardship of such a nature as possibly to impair, somewhat materially, the health of Rev. Father Ryan. From Holden, Missouri, the Very Rev. Father Ryan, P. P., was transferred to the Sacred Heart Church, Springfield, Missouri, where he arrived about the eighth of September, 1904, shortly after the lamented death of Rev. Dean Curran, whom he succeeded in office, and whom he was destined, so shortly thereafter, untimely to follow into eternity.

During seven months only, the dear Rev. Father was pastor of the Sacred Heart Parish; for, having developed a severe chronic rheumatism at his previous pastorate, which, in unguarded moments of religious ardor and patriotic fervor, he estimated all too lightly, he fell an easy and all-unsuspecting victim to that fatal malady, early in April, 1905.

Whilst the Right Rev. Bishop Hogan and Reverend clergy of Kansas City, Missouri, were assembled in the Cathedral of Kansas City, Missouri, Monday, April 10, 1905, rendering ecclesiastical obsequial rites to Rev. Father Prendergast, accidentally poisoned in the South; the shocking message reached before the close of the impressive ceremonies, that Rev. Father Ryan of Springfield, Missouri, had been called from earth.

Father Ryan's spiritual children, or parishioners, were awe-stricken, for, but little more than ten months previously, they were called upon to sacrifice Very Rev. Dean Curran, namely, on June 4, 1904, and now, on April 10, 1905, they are again plunged into mourning, by the untimely demise of Rev. Father Ryan. [625]

Solemn, impressive, funeral ceremonies in the Sacred Heart Church, where Father Ryan had so faithfully tended his flock, during his brief pastorate, were conducted; many priests were present; the funeral oration was delivered by Very Rev. Father Walsh, LL. D., of Kansas City, Missouri Right Rev. Bishop Lillis, Coadjutor, was in attendance, and the mortal remains of Rev. Father Ryan were tenderly conveyed to Kansas City, Missouri, and there, tearfully consigned to their last resting-place, in the clergy's lot where so many brother priests repose, surrounding, even in death, their departed, beloved Right Rev. Bishop John Hogan.

Do Thou, O, Christ! Whose bleeding hands Divine,
Round sin-stained souls, redeemed, would gladly twine,
Infuse men's hearts with blessings which e'er live,
To all, bright crowns, and thrones eternal, give.


Rev. Father T. J. Fortune, one of the five assistants who labored in the Sacred Heart Parish, was ushered into life more than half a century ago, in the world-famed Green Isle of Erin. At an early age, he was enrolled as a pupil in the national schools, whence being graduated, he prosecuted, during a period of five years, the academic courses of St. Aidan's Academy, and the higher classical branches of St. Peter's College, Wexford, under the tutorship of Diocesan professors. Accordingly, fully equipped, he thence passed to a professor's chair at St. Joseph's College, Dublin, which he very creditably occupied for nearly a decade of years; blessed with a vocation to the priestly life, he entered the Dublin Seminary, where he completed his philosophical course, and, bidding farewell to Ireland, he entered the great Sulpician College of Paris, France and therein finished his theological studies. Having been raised to the priesthood by His Eminence Cardinal Richard, in Paris, during 1896, Father Fortune was, shortly after assigned to the Cathedral of Roseau, British West Indies, at which post he zealously labored for nearly three years. Appointed pastor at Montserrat, West Indies, in 1896, he erected St. Patrick's church and school, from both of which monuments of his pastoral efforts, declining health necessitated his regretted departure; his affiliation to the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, followed, and in April, 1902, owing to the impaired, physical condition of The Very Rev. Dean Curran, Father Fortune was transferred from Kansas City, to Springfield, Missouri.

During a period of approximately eight months, Father Fortune either administered the parish, unaided, whilst Dean Curran vainly sought health restoration, at home and abroad, or, under the immediate supervision and direction of Father Curran. Notable among the occurrences of Father Fortune's administration, was the solemnly celebrated silver jubilee of the Very Rev. Father Curran, whose labors in the Sacred Heart parish had consumed more than one-half of his sacerdotal career. Father Fortune is still zealously laboring in the Divine Master's vineyard, wherein, may he be graciously accorded many other fruitful years of highly meritorious stewardship. [626]


Rev. Father Peter J. Kilkenny, who succeeded to the position vacated by the former assistant, Rev. Father Fortune, and who similarly claims as his mother-land, the Innisfail of Destiny, when pondering the interval from infancy, traverses, in his retrospect, a period considerably less than forty years. Recalling his elementary education, he turns with pleasure to many happy days spent in Ireland's national schools, and he, with joy unalloyed, adverts to the several subsequent years devoted to classics, at Moyne, Ireland, under the very able tutorship of his Rev. Professors, Father Duffy and Father Brady, at his beloved Alma Mater, St. John's, Waterford.

After nearly twenty years spent in the wide domain of knowledge, he was at the early age of twenty-three, elevated to the Sacerdotal dignity, in the famous Seminary of St. Mell's, Longford, Ireland, the ordaining prelate being the Most Rev. Dr. Sheehan. Arriving shortly thereafter, at Kansas City, Missouri, he was assigned, as assistant to The Very Rev. Father Walsh, L. L. D., and he underwent an excellent priestly tutelage, preparatorily to his transfer to the Sacred Heart church, Springfield Missouri, where, owing to the great physical debility of The Very Rev. Dean Curran, pastor, the parochial administration was practically reposed in Father Kilkenny.

The zealous and competent young assistant applied himself most commendably to the manifold duties of his priestly station, thereby greatly lightening the burdens of the ailing pastor, when in Springfield, and leaving no reasonable grounds for undue concern when, seeking to regain the health seriously impaired, Dean Curran visited Mexico and Ireland, where a serious operation, resulting in wonderful, temporary improvement, was performed on The Very Rev. Father Curran, by the renowned specialist, Doctor Nixon. Quite recently. Father Kilkenny, being dangerously ill, accompanied by Very Rev. Father Sheridan, of this city, departed from his parish, at Monett, Missouri, and rushed to Chicago, for consultation with the world-famous Doctor Murphy; science, rest and a sojourn in Old Erin, have wrought wonderful, physical changes in the Rev. Soggarth, and both his friends and brother priests now entertain the well-founded hope that countless years of extraordinary usefulness are still awaiting Father Kilkenny in the Divine Master'sVineyard. [627]


Rev. Father George Curry was born in Ireland, considerably more than two-score years ago, of devout Catholic parents and he is one of a family of eleven children, of whom two became priests, and three dedicated themselves to God, in the religious state. Having finished his early education in Erin's national schools, he applied himself to the classics, in the Diocesan College, conducted by priests of the Diocese, at Ennis, Ireland; thence he passed to the seminary of All Hallows, Dublin, where, having completed, his theological studies, he was ordained to the priesthood, in his twenty-fifth year, by Bishop Donnelly.

Having served as an assistant to the rector of the Cathedral, at Kansas .City, Missouri, for two years, he was assigned, in like capacity, to the Sacred Heart church, Springfield, Missouri, in June, 1894; there he remained for about six months, largely sharing the pastoral burden which, Rev. Father Curran, owing to his protracted ill health, was unable, unassisted, to bear fully and satisfactorily. Father Curry is presently pastor of the Catholic church at Lexington, Missouri, a city famous for the glorious resistance of her dauntless Union defenders, during the Civil war; there, let us fondly cherish the hope, he will perform prodigies for The Master to Whom his life is dedicated.


Rev. Father William Vogel, the fourth assistant, assigned by the Rt. Rev. John J. Hogan, D. D., to the Sacred Heart church, was born in Colorado about thirty-seven years ago; moving to Missouri, in early childhood, he entered the parochial school at Tipton, Missouri, conducted by the Sisters of St. Francis. Responsive to a Divine call, thereafter, he was enrolled as a pupil of St. Francis' College, Wisconsin, from which, having completed the prescribed classical course, he was admitted to the seminary similarly named, and there, zealously persevering and happily pursuing his divinity studies, he attained the imperishable goal of his laudable aspirations, the Holy Priesthood, conferred by the Most Rev. Archbishop Messmer.

About two months after his ordination, Father Vogel was appointed assistant to the lamented pastor, Rev. James Ryan, and conjointly with Father Ryan, he labored very zealously for the material and spiritual upbuilding of the Sacred Heart parish, recently bereaved of its pastor, The Very Rev. Dean Curran, and shortly, again the people were plunged into deepest mourning by the untimely, unexpected death of Rev. Father Ryan, who, after approximately seven months of faithful, devoted, pastoral service, was divinely bidden to rest from his labors. For nearly three months subsequent to Father Ryan's death, Father Vogel ably administered, pending the arrival of Rev. Father Healy the recently twice bereaved parish of the Sacred Heart. Father Vogel, still young, energetic and enthusiastic, is happily sacrificing himself for the cause in which his Divine Model was immolated, nearly twenty centuries, antecedently. [628]


Doubtless one of the most saddening occurrences, because, naturally, absolutely unexpected, was the untimely succumbing, as a typhoid victim, of the late Rev. John J. O'Reilly, in the fifteenth month of his sacerdotal career, far from home and relatives, life-long acquaintances and Ireland, his motherland.

Despite the tenderest nursing, the closest, medical attention, the manifold well wishes of sympathizing, newly-made friends, and the numberless prayers poured forth in behalf of the ailing Soggarth aroon, the dread disease steadily, successfully and defiantly progressed and about six o'clock, Monday evening, June 29th, the impress of demise, alas! most strikingly evident, pointed deathward, the agony peacefully ending three hours subsequently.

While Father O'Reilly lay lifeless at St. John's hospital, members of the Sacred Heart Parish were diligently engaged in draping for his obsequies, the sacred edifice, wherein the young priest had officiated so great a part of his short life.

Those who sympathetically viewed the procession from St. John's hospital, especially from the point of junction, at the corners of Locust and Washington avenues, where the robed altar boys, bearing crucifix and funeral torches, followed by delegations of boys and girls of the parish, all led by their tearful pastor, will, possibly never forget the deep emotions witnessed and awakened, on that memorable occasion.

For nearly two days, the body of the dead assistant lay in state before the high altar; many a tear was unconsciously shed, when the last glance at the dead priest's face was taken; night and day, unmistakable proofs of esteem for the departed, also of edifying devotion to God's anointed, were evinced by the many, many visitors to the afflicted church in mourning.

Watchers representing the different Catholic societies of the city, succeeded one another, during the long hours of Tuesday and Wednesday nights, as prayerful guards of honor.

Meanwhile, many telegrams flashed in all directions, and two cablegrams apprised Ireland, that Springfield, was faithful and sympathetic in these crucial hours of visitation and bereavement. [629]

Beautiful floral offerings, some very costly, well-nigh hid from view, the handsomely mounted casket wherein reposed the young levite; even dear Old Ireland provided one sincere mourner, an acquaintance of the brothers, sisters and parents of Father O'Reilly, and presumably, countless tears and numberless prayers ascended Heavenward from Erin's shores, as the second cablegram was due there many hours before the interment.

Possibly, never in the history of Springfield, were there other exequial services as impressive as those witnessed on Thursday, July 2nd, whereat fifteen priests, ten sisters, thirteen altar boys and about four hundred and sixty-five others, among the latter His Honor, Mayor Ernst of Springfield, were present.

Kansas City furnished a delegation of five priests, St. Louis of one, Springfield four and other towns or cities their quota of five.

The celebrant was Rev. Father Cronin, then of Kansas City, many years a classmate of Father O'Reilly; the deacon was Father O'Sullivan of Kansas City; the sub-deacon was Father Meany, the eulogist, Very Rev. Father Walsh of Kansas City, who most eloquently and affectingly developed his very appropriately chosen text, "The Priesthood."

Midday still beheld the assembled congregation in the church; the funeral cortege comprised over fifty vehicles preceded by a delegation of Catholic societies numbering fifty-six men and it was estimated as more than one half mile in length.

At the grave, nature most appropriately mingled her pearly raindrops with the tears of the mourners, who, with fervent prayers and heartfelt blessings, witnessed the consignment to mother-earth of Father John O'Reilly.

Tuesday night, July 7th, the Knights of Columbus of this city held a memorial service in honor of their dead brother, during which, eulogistic addresses and musical numbers were rendered.

One week later, a joint memorial, to which all Catholics in the city were invited, was conducted at the Sacred Heart Hall. Addresses were made by Very Rev. Father Lilly, Father Healy, Mr. Thomas Welsh, D. D., Knights of Columbus and D. E. Fitzgerald; vocal numbers were rendered by the choir, Mrs. James Quinn, the faithful, generous and devoted organist of the Sacred Heart Church, competently accompanying, and two beautiful selections by Miss Fay, organist, at the Immaculate Conception.

The sanctuary, church and facade thereof remained draped from June 30 to July 29, the month's-mind, whereat were present Rev. Father O'Reilly; Very Rev. Father Lilly, celebrant; Rev. Father Rosch, deacon; Rev. Father Cronin, sub-deacon; Rev. Father Meany of Joplin, Rev. Father O'Connor of St. Louis, Mr. John Lavelle and Mr. Thomas Carney, ecclesiastical students, acolytes, several altar boys, the church choir and an appreciative and sympathetic congregation; the sermon, a most excellent one, was delivered by the venerable chaplain of the Visitation Convent, the eloquent and Rev. Doctor Father O'Reilly. [630]

May not the wish and hope now confidently expressed that these efforts ordinary and extraordinary, to perpetuate the memory of the lamented young priest, prompt and insure perseverant prayers until the crown of eternal glory adorns is sacerdotal brow?


The Sacred Heart Parish property, consisting of two lots, a church, convent, school and pastoral residence, with contents, is valued at approximately nineteen thousand dollars. Since the foundation of the parish, thirty-three years ago, four pastors and five assistants have labored therein; of the pastors, Rev. Father Francis O'Neill, the first pastor, and Rev. Father Healy, the present incumbent, still survive; two, namely, Very Rev. Father Curran, and Rev. Father James Ryan, are deceased.

Of the five assistants, namely, Father Fortune, Father Kilkenny, Father Curran, Father Vogel and Father John O' Reilly, all save the last-named are living, and actually in charge of parishes. The Sacred Heart Parish has provided one priest or God's holy altar, namely, Rev. Father James Vincent O'Connor, S. J.; Rev. John Lavelle will shortly be ordained a Lazarist Father, and Mr. Thomas Carney should, ere long be numbered among God's priesthood.

To the Sisterhoods, the Sacred Heart Parish has offered Miss Rose Phillips, now Sister Victorine; Miss Ion Wilson, presently Sister Frances of Fort Scott, Kansas, and Miss Agnes Connelly, postulant for admission as a Sister of Mercy, at Fort Scott, Kansas.

The Church Committee: Mr. James M. Quinn, Mr. Martin J. Healey, Mr. Thomas Fogarty and Mr. Francis Venie have repeatedly cooperated with the Reverend pastor in forwarding the best interests of the parish.

The Communities of Sisters: Mother Mary Clare, Superior, Sister Veronica, Sister Madeline, Sister Gertrude, Sister Genevieve and Sister Aloysius, are stationed at the Frisco hospital, in the Sacred Heart Parish.

Four Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, are in charge of the Sacred Heart School, namely, Sister Emerentia, Superioress, teacher of the fourth, fifth and sixth grades; Sister Mary Octavia, teacher of the seventh and eighth grades; Sister Mary Inez, teacher of the rudimentary, first, second and third grades, an Sister Mary Florentine.

To Mr. and Mrs. James M. Quinn, for years of devoted, self-sacrificing service, as, organist and choir director, and for which extraordinary fidelity, covering a period of about eight years, they both absolutely refuse all material compensation, the Sacred Heart Parish owes an incalculable debt of interminable gratitude. [631]


Mr. William Kennedy, for years, a member rendered countless, invaluable services; Mrs. W. F. French, ever-faithful soprano, richly deserves very special mention; Miss Agnes Connelly, now a postulant at the Mercy Convent, Fort Scott, Kansas, is deservedly remembered; Miss Lillian Fuller has also rendered noteworthy, faithful service; Miss Loretta Lawler has, since her recent return to Springfield, frequently contributed to the choir's efficiency; Mr. B. W. Flagg has been prodigal of his time and services to forward the choir's success, and to Mr. J. C. Hoey, no little praise is justly accorded.


To this society, introduced about three years ago, are justly attributed many of the important improvements accomplished since its organization. Official personnel, 1912—Mrs. Robert Dewhurst, president, Mrs. James Bailey, vice-president; Mrs. Peter Dailey, secretary; Rev. Father Healy, treasurer.

1913—Mrs. Robert Dewhurst, president; Mrs. James Bailey, vice-pyesident; Mrs. James Bailey, secretary; Father Healy, treasurer. 1914—Mrs. Martin J. Healey, president Mrs. F. Venie, vice-president, Mrs. James Bailey, secretary; Father Healy, treasurer. Mrs. Henry Schellhardt, president, resigned; Mrs. F. McLaughlin, secretary, resigned: Mrs. John C. Conley, president; Mrs., J. C. Young, vice-president; Mrs. John McQuinn, secretary; Father Healy, treasurer.


1914—Mrs. James McCabe, president; Mrs. Nettie Young, secretary, and Father Healy, treasurer. 1915—Mrs. Martin J. Healey, president; Mrs. M. J. Golden, vice-president; Mrs. P. Hurley, secretary, and Father Healy, treasurer.


More than half a century ago, the subject of this biography was welcomed into life, not far from the great, historic Bunker Hill, of Revolutionary prominence; but a short distance from the incredibly wonderfully developed metropolis of Boston, the Athens of America. Among his most vivid and earliest childhood impressions and memories, were, the drilling and maneuvering of marshalled legions, thus acquiring their rudiments and supplementary, military training in the art of war, during the ever-memorable period of America's quinquennial bloody, Civil War of the Rebellion. [632]

Father Healy, though most intensely devoted to Old Erin, has, hitherto, ever been vouchsafed a view of, or sojourn in, the land of his ancestors. Yet, despite this fact, few there are, natives, or non-natives, to whom the copious, celebrated, sweet-toned, glorious, ancient, prehistoric, scientific, Celtic tongue, more responsively appeals; yea, its very mention fires Father Healy's soul with unbounded and unquenchable enthusiasm.

To the public schools of Massachusetts, Father Healy is principally indebted for his earliest childhood and boyhood advances in the realms of knowledge; subsequently, under the able tutorship of Rev. James A. Fitz Simons of Ashton, Rhode Island, our subject's faithful friend and beloved pastor, long since departed, the former received his first introduction to the two great indispensable, ancient and scientific languages, Latin and Greek, preparatorily to his admission into Ottawa College, Canada, later, the Ottawa University, having for his professors, the Oblate Fathers of Mary.

Years joyfully consumed at the fountains of knowledge, followed his enrollment as a pupil of Ottawa College; a priestly career of nearly thirty-five years has since ensued, yet, Father Healy is, were it possible, more profoundly devoted to and enamored of knowledge, than ever before, as one rightly informed would naturally expect and justly demand of a self-immolated victim to God, to country, and to his fellow men.

At St. Joseph's Cathedral, Missouri, on Sunday, August 5, 1880, the longed-for, incomparable, priestly-facilities were, at ordination conferred on Rev. Father Healy, by the late Very Venerable and Right Reverend John J. Hogan, D. D., in the presence of assisting priests and a large, much impressed congregation. The newly-ordained priest assisted at the Cathedral and administered several out-lying missions for about seven months; on March 19, 1881, owing to the serious indisposition of Rev. James Dunn, of St. Patrick's church, Kansas City, Missouri, Father Healy was appointed assistant, and for many months he administered St. Patrick's Parish; during this period, an epidemic of smallpox smote Kansas City, Missouri, and many opportunities for self-immolation were frequently offered the young Levite, and by him, gladly embraced.

From St. Patrick's church, Right Rev. Bishop Hogan transferred the newly ordained priest to St. Mary's church, Carrollton, Missouri, then the former home and final resting place of the immortal Gen. James Shields, a loyal son of the church, and a fearless defender of his country. From St. Mary's, Carrollton, Missouri, Father Healy was recalled to the Cathedral at Kansas City, Missouri, where for less than a year he applied himself, under the direction of the Right Rev. Bishop Hogan, to the upbuilding of the Cathedral school. From Kansas City he was appointed pastor at California, Missouri, where he remained many months. [633]

February, 1887, finds Father Heal stationed at Peirce City, Missouri, where under untold difficulties, he labored nearly nine and a half years, during which time he made, in the interests of St. Patrick'.s parish, a successful and far-reaching appeal to Rome, Italy, going thither in person in August-September, 1888. Having continued in charge of St. Patrick's parish nine and a half years, Father Healy was transferred to St. Vincent's church, Sedalia, Missouri, in which pastorate he remained for very nearly nine years, and on June 30, 1905, he arrived at the Sacred Heart church, Springfield, Missouri, recently bereaved by the death of her third pastor, the Rev. James Ryan, and, at present the tenth anniversary of Rev. Father Healy's pastorate of the Sacred Heart parish is rapidly approaching.

Countless opportunities for multi-fold sacrifices have since Father Healy's arrival at the Sacred Heart parish, been repeatedly offered, and by him, happily embraced; furthermore, it may be safely asserted that Rev. Father Healy has quietly and secretly applied many thousand dollars of his laboriously earned salary in advancing the manifold, material, intellectual and spiritual interests of his nine hundred parishioners.


The following twenty-five lined iambic petameter, hypercatalectic or heroic stanza, commemorative of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Queen's Daughters, was composed and dedicated by Rev. Daniel Healy, treasurer of association number seventy-five, of the Sacred Heart church, Springfield, Missouri

From holiest 'bode of Jesus ever dwelling,
'Neath sacramental veils, Christ's love e'er telling,
All faithful souls enriching, tempests quelling,
Angelic hosts encircling, awe-compelling;
'Fore table blessed, Holy, God containing,
Each Christian heart refreshing and sustaining,
In probate battle, earthly, here detaining,
E'er with His children, loyal, fond remaining;
We, Mary's daughters, bowed in adoration,
With lips devout, intone sweet acclamation,
To "Daughter's Queenly," convened congregation,
In great St. Louis-noble aggregation;
Sincerest thanks to Heaven's Lord returning,
From souls infused, with Godly love, now burning,
Naught worthy Master's noble, cause e'er spurning;
Health, life and strength, possessions, Christ-like learning,
To Mary's Son all-honored, now presenting,
A sacred pledge, undying, unrelenting,
O service noblest, life-long Godward hieing—
Queen's Daughters ever-living—battling—dying,
Self-immolate, with God's grand law, complying,
In arms Divine of Jesus dear, safe lying,
For worlds unconquered unto Him, oft sighing,
Ne'er-ending bliss, with efforts blessed buying,
Christ's Great White Throne, eternal, hourly nighing. [634]


By the Rev. Father J. M. Sheridan.

In the early spring of 1908 a committee composed of L. S. Meyer, John Landers, F. X. Heer, T. E. Williams and H. T. Hornsby, called upon the Rt. Rev. J. J. Hogan, bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City to discuss with him the advisability of establishing a new parish in the south side of Springfield. "The earth does move," said Galileo of old, "The world is round," said Columbus. "Springfield will be yet a great city," said these men and "the Catholic church should grow with it." And so convinced were they of this fact themselves that they imparted their convictions to Bishop Hogan, who finally gave the required permission to seek a. location for a new parish in the south side of Springfield, and at the same time he appointed Messrs. Meyer, Landers, Heer, Hornsby and Williams a committee with power to select location, raise funds, and do all things necessary for the foundation of the new parish.

Towards the end of September, 1908, Bishop Hogan appointed Father O'Driscoll, Then at Carthage, Missouri, to come to Springfield and take charge of the new parish. On his arrival the committee rented the little Congregational church building at the corner of Market and Walnut streets, and in this improvised church, on the last Sunday of September, 1908, the Sacrifice of the Mass was offered for the first time in the newly created parish by Father O'Driscoll.

Father O'Driscoll remained in charge only about two months, during which time he worked hard toward the organization of the new congregation, gathering up the various details of the new parish and reducing all to order and system. On the first of December, 1908, he was transferred to Warrensburg, Missouri, and Father Sheridan came from Clinton to take up the duties of pastor of St. Agnes parish.

Father Sheridan and the church committee at once began the work of selecting a site for the new church. This in itself was a work requiring much patient care and labor, as it was difficult to find, in the built up district, ground sufficient for the parish needs and at the same time centrally located in respect to the members of the congregation. [635]

The Haydon property on South Jefferson and Mt. Vernon streets was finally decided upon and the bishop having given his approval, the lot was bought in April, 1909.

During the summer of 1909, the plans and specifications were made for the new church by Miller, Opal and Torbitt, architects. These plans were taken to Kansas City by Father Sheridan and H. T. Hornsby for the bishop's approval. Bishop Hogan having approved of the plans, the contract for the building was let to Landers and Davis Company, of Springfield, on the 15th day of September, 1909. The Sebree property just north of the church was at this time purchased for a parsonage.

Ground was broken for the foundation in October of the same year and the foundation put in. During the spring and summer of 1910 the church was completed and on Thanksgiving day, 24th of November, 1910, the new church was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Thomas F. Lillis, D. D., then coadjutor bishop of Kansas City, Missouri. Bishop Lillis was also the first to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the new church.

At the writing of this article, the new parish has been in existence less than six years, yet it has more than justified the hopes of the men who were instrumental in founding it. The congregation started with an active membership which was less than three hundred. Today, less than six years later, it has an active membership of over a thousand.

"Not to us Lord; not to us, but to Thy Name be glory."


Father J. M. Sheridan, the present pastor of St. Agnes church, was educated in Dublin, Ireland, and there was ordained a priest. In 1898, he came to Kansas City and was assigned to Joplin as chaplain to the Convent of Mercy, with missions at Neosho and Seneca, Missouri. He remained at Joplin nearly two years, during which time he assisted in the building of the present St. John's hospital.

In 1900 Father Sheridan was transferred to Clinton, Missouri, in order that an effort might be made to pay off a large debt which encumbered that congregation. He remained there for nine years and succeeded in paying off the debt and was then sent by the bishop to take charge of the establishing and building of St. Agnes parish, Springfield, where he has since resided.

Besides being pastor of St. Agnes parish, Father Sheridan holds many other honorable offices in the church. He is chaplain of the Knights of Father Matthew, president of the St. Mary's Cemetery Board, Synodal Examiner of the Diocese and Dean of the Springfield District of the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri. [636]


Education and religion should always be found united. Education stands for knowledge and the highest knowledge is the knowledge of God, and education that teaches not knowledge of God is not the highest education. Religion teaches a man his duties towards God, towards himself and towards his fellow man, and to apply religion rightly, a man should know his relationship to the things around him, he should be educated,--so education is necessary to be intelligently religious. And so to carry out the fundamental precepts of intelligent religion, yon will always find side by side with the Catholic church, the Catholic school.

St. Agnes school came into existence at least two years before the foundation of the parish. The school was called into existence by the fact that all the Catholic schools at that time (about 1906) were situated north of the Frisco tracks and as several accidents had occurred on the grade crossings, parents were fearful to allow their children to cross these railroad tracks to school.

To find a way out of this difficulty, a committee composed of A. F. Fine, T. R. Stokes, L. S. Meyer and T. E. Williams was appointed. After long and arduous work and by overcoming many and serious obstacles, a lot was bought on South street, nearly opposite the present site of the Christian church. This lot was bought by L. S. Meyer and H. A. Meyer, and a house which was on the property was used as a school. As a temple of learning, the building, in itself was not a masterpiece of architectural work, and the children who attended school there for several years had named it the"Stable of Bethlehem." Still it was a God-send at the time and under the able and faithful care of the Sisters of Loretto, it turned out scholars who even now are making their mark in the advanced colleges and universities of this country.

For three years, or until the fall of 1910, when the Haydon property was purchased for St. Agnes church, school was held in this frame building on South street, and before the parish was established, the school was kept there by the indefatigable work of the committee, ably and loyally aided by the Catholic mothers of the south side, like Mrs. Fine, Mrs. Stokes, Mrs. L. S. Meyer and many others.

In 1910, the school was moved to the Haydon lot on West Mt. Vernon street and located in a two-story frame building on the west end of the lot. Here school was held for more than two years. In 1912, Father Sheridan with the generous support of the congregation, built the present beautiful three-story brick and concrete building, located just west of the church on Mt. Vernon street and capable of accommodating three hundred pupils. [637]


By Rev. Father Maurus Eckstein

Repeatedly the wish had been expressed to have in Springfield a Catholic church for the Germans and those of German origin. When therefore in February, 1892, Rev. Father L. Porta, pastor of the Immaculate Conception church, had passed away, the Right Rev. Bishop of Kansas City thought the time opportune to find out what could be done for the Germans of the city. Requested by his lordship, the Right Rev. Abbot Frowin, O. S. B. of the Conception monastery sent one of his priests to Springfield with the instructions to look for the time being after the spiritual needs of the members of the Immaculate Conception church and if possible, build a church for the German-speaking people. Mr. Charles H. Heer, one of the most prominent citizens of Springfield, was the first one to offer assistance. He made the promise to donate to the Conception Abbey a house and lot on corner of Jefferson and Chestnut streets, on condition that with the consent of the Right Reverend Bishop of the diocese, an addition be built to the residence to serve both as church for the Catholics of German nationality and origin and as an institution for the higher education of youth. The offer was accepted and with the help of the good people a three story brick building was erected and dedicated by the Right Rev. Abbot Frowin O. S. B. in the year 1893. The new building that was to serve for the time being as church and college cost about five thousand dollars. Architect W. E. Foley had the kindness to furnish the necessary plans and specifications free of charge, whilst Mr. Charles Heer, Jr., was of valuable assistance to us with his practical advice. Mr. August Lohmeyer, a skillful cabinet-maker, built the altar for the church, also free of charge. At the same time a parochial school with about twenty-five children in attendance was opened in a small building changed from a stable into a schoolhouse. As the Sisters of the Loretto Academy could not take charge of the school it was given to the good Sisters of St. John's hospital, this city, and they successfully conducted it ever since. Already in 1894 the parochial school had outgrown its accommodations to such an extent that more room became a necessity. This was under the prevailing circumstances a difficult problem to solve. As the plan to put up a new building could not be carried out, the matter was brought before Mr. Charles H. Heer. After due deliberation of all existing difficulties, Mr. Charles H. Heer gave his approval to turn the college into a parochial school. As time went on the need of a larger and more appropriate building for divine service was keenly felt. Mr. Charles H. Heer expressed his intention to set aside in his last will and testament the sum of fifteen thousand dollars for the erection of a new church and one thousand dollars for the benefit of the parochial school. This together with the donations the other members of the parish were willing to contribute made the future of St. Joseph's parish bright and hopeful. [638]

On the 3rd of April, 1898, Mr. Charles H. Heer, our generous and long to be remembered benefactor was called to his eternal reward. As his children were only too glad to carry out their father's will we came into possession of the handsome sum of fifteen thousand dollars to be used for the erection of a new St. Joseph's church. With the consent of the Right Reverend Bishop, in fall of 1904, a new site on Campbell and Scott streets was bought for the sum of two thousand four hundred dollars.

On June 5, 1905, the cornerstone of the new edifice was laid by the Rt. Rev. Thomas F. Lillis, D. D., the Bishop of Leavenworth, Kansas, but now bishop of Kansas City, Missouri. Thanksgiving day, 1906, was the long looked for and happy day when the new beautiful church could be dedicated for divine service by the Right Reverend Abbott of the Conception monastery. Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Charles H. Heer and his children, together with the many sacrifices of the other parishioners, the new church with all the beautiful interior finishings, necessary as well as desirable for divine service, costing in all about thirty-six thousand dollars, was free of debts on the day of dedication. Mr. Herm. J. Meyer, of the John F. Meyer and Sons Milling Company is another great benefactor of St. Joseph's church. In his zeal for the house of God, he thought he could never do enough. Miss Julia Harpstrite has done more for the interior beautifying of the church than could ever be expected.

On April, 20, 1907, three additional lots on Scott street were bought, costing three thousand three hundred and forty dollars. There the new St. Joseph's school was erected, costing about seven thousand dollars. In the fall of 1908, the school was opened to one hundred and thirty children of St. Joseph's parish. At a great expense the old church buildings on Jefferson and Chestnut streets were transformed into a beautiful sanitarium for nervous diseases. This institution is conducted by the able Dr. S. A. Johnson. [639]

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