Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives
St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Compiled for the
Centenary of the Founding
of the Parish
Laying of the Cornerstone
of the Present Church
1832 1936 1886
July 23, 1936
transcribed for the Clearfield County PA USGenWeb by
ST. FRANCIS BENEFACTOR
On the front steps of St. Francis Church can be seen the words, "T. Cavan, benefactor of this church."
St. Francis School
Under the guidance of Father Sheridan, therefore, plans were laid for the erection of the first Catholic School in Clearfield. The school house was built in the summer of 1892 and was opened in 1893. The Sisters of St. Joseph came to take charge of the school and they used the old rectory as a convent. This was the original rectory built in 1856.
The building was erected at a cost of about
$20,000.00 and is one of the best equipped and most substantial buildings in the
city. The low cost and excellent workmanship was entirely due to the special
care and personal supervision of the whole work by Father Cavanaugh and stands
out conspicuously as an example of what sound business judgment combined with
rare mechanical skill can accomplish.
Sister Marie Francis, who had been on the
teaching staff for about eight years, assumed the role of principal in 1908.
During her twenty-five years as superior the school went forward by leaps and
bounds until today it is recognized as one of the outstanding schools of its
size in the state. The number of teachers was increased at various times so that
at present there are eleven teachers instructing the Catholic Youth of
In 1919 the High School Department received
full certification from the Department of Education and since then the rating of
the High School has veen [sic] very high.
About eight years ago the auditorium was
sacrificed in order to make room for new class rooms. During the past few
months, however, the basement of the school was remodeled and a new auditorium
is the result.
Medical attention is given to the pupils and
special attention is given to physical culture in both grade and high schools,
being as extensive as circumstances will permit. With a view of safeguarding the
health of the pupils at all times, an entire new system of sanitation was
installed during the past year.
The number of pupils enrolled during the past
school year, 1935-1936, was three hundred thirty of whom seventy-eight were
members of the high school. It might be interesting to know that due to the
sacrifices of our good Catholic people in keeping alive the Catholic Schools
there is a saving to the public school system annually of perhaps twenty-five
Sister M. Boniface is in charge of the school during this jubilee year, having assumed this responsibility in the fall of 1932. She is ably assisted in her work by the following Sisters: M. Beatrice, M. Lasalette, M. Norberta, Mary Esther, M. Borgia, M. Eleanore, Mary Magdalene, M. Wilma, M. Pierre and M. Gerarda. Father Anderton has charge of religion.
The first graduation of the school at which a program was rendered was held on Wednesday, June 8, 1898, a reproduction of which follows:
Grandma ------- Anna Morgan
Rev. Patrick J. Blake Rev. Carl L. Heidt
Rev. Edward P. Short Rev James J. O'Connor
The young Father Gannon served at St. Patrick's, Erie, at both St. Joseph's and St. Stephen's in Oil City, at St. Francis, Clearfield, and at St. Francis, Kane, Pa. He was made pastor of St. Anthony's Church, Cambridge Springs, on November 1, 1905, and saw the dedication of the new church there on September 25, 1911. On February 15, 1912, he was appointed to the post of Superintendent of Schools of the Diocese of Erie and in 1915 was made pastor of St. Bridgid's Church, Meadville, where he built the parochial school. On February 6, 1918, he was raised to the dignity of the episcopacy, being consecrated titular bishop of Nilopolis and Auxiliary Bishop of Erie. As Auxiliary Bishop he was
Rev. E. P. McManaman Rev. Eugene V. Danielson
Rev. F. J. Schlindwein Rev. Joseph Meisinger
pastor of St. Andrew's Church, Erie, Pa., where he built the parish house. On December 16, 1920 Bishop Gannon was installed as Bishop of Erie.
Rev. Thomas McManus Rev. Thomas Tracy
Rev. Kiernan O'Brannigan Rev. Joseph M. Cauley
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Peter J. Sheridan
As assistant at St. Titus Church, Titusville,
Pa., having been placed there by Bishop Mullen, Father Sheridan began the duties
of his vocation. From there he administered to several missions, including
Mageetown and all of the railroad between Titusville and Spartansburg. At
Mageetown he first gave evidence of the highly constructive course he was to
follow when he remodeled the church and built a new rectory.
In appreciation and recognition of his zeal and progressiveness, Bishop Mullen appointed Father Sheridan pastor of St. Francis Church, Clearfield, Pa., where, with characteristic energy, he built the present church, rectory, remodeled the sister's convent and erected the first parochial school. For a period of twenty-five years Father Sheridan served as pastor, not only to Clearfield, but also to Grampian and Curwensville where he built a church and chapel respectively.
Shortly after his reappointment as Vicar
General by Bishop Fitzmaurice, he was assigned to the irremovable rectorship of
St. Joseph's Church, Oil City. Here the church, school, parochial residence and
many matters of much importance were in a state that necessitated the exercise
of an indefatigable energy to make them more efficient and worthy of their
purpose. Before long, Father Sheridan had placed the entire parochial equipment
upon a basis that was second to none in the diocese as well as having built a
church at Siverly with his own funds which he presented to that congregation.
Throughout a lifetime spent in service and
devotion to God and man, Father Sheridan fulfilled his duties of pastor in a
manner that obtained for him the highest esteem not only of the members of his
flock, but from every person in the community. The manner in which he conducted
himself under adverse conditions and his unselfishness in his service to others
are characteristic of the highly idealistic man and the devout and saintly
priest that Father Sheridan was known to be. Steadfast of purpose, charitable
and pious, his influence exerted itself long after his soul had passed into
On Easter Monday, March 28, 1921, Father Sheridan was again called by God—this time to his just reward of eternal happiness, and with the deepest sorrow of the members of his flock, he was laid to rest in the new cemetery at Oil City where he had served so long and faithfully.
Father Cavanaugh was stationed at Frenchville
fifteen months, Oil City nine months, Mercer five years and a half, Johnsonburg
two years and a half and at Clearfield for ten years.
He paid off the church debt at Frenchville,
built the pastoral houses at Mercer and at Johnsonburg and finished the church
at Grampian. While here in Clearfield he built the present St. Francis School.
On December 14, 1907, Father Cavanaugh was
appointed to the pastorate of St. Titus Church, Titusville, Pa. Shortly after
His arrival he saw it was necessary to supply a parochial school and he set
about providing ways and means to accomplish this. The school was begun in June,
1910, and was ready for occupancy in September, 1911. At the time of its
erection it was one of the most modern and up-to-date school buildings.
Many of the fathers and mothers of the parish
recall the zealous and untiring priestly Father Cavanaugh. In the erection of
the St. Francis School he has left a monument that will stand for many rears as
a witness to his zeal and devotion in the conduct of his holy calling.
Father Cavanaugh died on August 18th, 1922, at St. Titus Rectory. His remains rest in the St. Titus Cemetery at Titusville.
Rev. Michael A. Ryan
Reverend M. A. Ryan was born in Newburgh, New York on February 15th, 1865. He studied at Niagara University, Niagara Falls, New York, Manhattan College, New York City, St. Joseph's Seminary, Try, New York, and St. Bonaventure's Seminary, Allegany, New York. He was ordained to the priesthood at St. Peter's Cathedral, Erie, Pennsylvania, by Right Reverend Tobias Mullen on July 19th, 1896.
Shortly after his arrival Father Ryan discovered that it was almost impossible to find burial space for the dead, and that it was necessary to start a new cemetery. He selected an ideal location and immediately took steps to lay out one of the most beautiful cemeteries in this part of the state. A plot of about nine acres was purchased and experts set to work to improve the site. No expenses were spared to beautify the site and after an expenditure of nearly $10,000, "Calvary" stood as a truly beautiful burial ground.
In 1926 plans were made for the erection of
the present Convent, one of the most modern and beautiful convent buildings in
While on a trip to his home in Newburgh during August, 1932, Father Ryan was suddenly stricken and died shortly afterwards. His death was a distinct shock to his Clearfield friends who had seen him go away quite as usual, cheerful, pleasant and apparently in his usual good health. They were always to remember him thus, because they never saw him again, burial taking place in Newburgh. During the twenty-five and more years that Father Ryan spent as pastor of St. Francis Church, he endeared himself to many, within and without his own fold. In his quiet, unassuming way he went about doing untold good, and many a heart and burden was made lighter by some unsung act of his. In passing to his Eternal Reward he left an abiding memory of solid, true friendship and of sterling qualities perhaps little thought of (in the way of the heedless, busy world) until death removed him from his congregation, leaving us with a distinct sense of loss.
Has taught me how to pray
Would bid me of my youth make free
In this her meadow gay.
Who make this book of rhyme,
And there have filled by pinafore
With meadowsweet and thyme.
If these my own could stay,
Here in her lap and round her feet
I pour my thyme and meadowsweet
Who brought me here to play.
Ellis Michaels, Clearfield County PAGenWeb Archives File Manager
Copyright 2009, USGenWeb Archives