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
Illness and death have prevented us from paying more
tribute to two of the pastors of St. Francis of a few years ago, Rev. Patrick J.
Blake and Rev. Carl Heidt. Both were compelled to relinquish active labors in
less than six weeks after their respective appointments. We regret the passing
of Father Blake just when we were getting acquainted with him; at the same time
we are happy to know that Father Heidt's health has improved sufficiently for
him to perform the duties of his new parish.
We now present a brief history of all the priests
who have served and who are now serving the people of Clearfield.
REVEREND PATRICK LEAVY, it seems, was a native of
County Longford, Ireland, as the Leavys of Clearfield came from this place. At
the time he first visited Clearfield, he was pastor of All Saints Church,
Lewistown. This was in 1830. In 1832, we find that he served Clearfield as
pastor of Bellefonte.
REVEREND OTTO HENRY BORGESS, a native of Germany,
was born January 14, 1806. He studied at the University of Munster and was
ordained September 24, 1831. He administered to the people of Clearfield in 1838
and was in the Diocese of Cincinnati from 1845 until 1859. His death took place
on January 11, 1876, in Steinerberg, Switzerland.
REVEREND TIMOTHY FLANIGAN was ordained by Rt. Reverend Francis P. Kenrick at St. John's, Philadelphia, Pa., September 23, 1838. He administered the sacrament of Baptism here in 1840. At
REVEREND JAMES A. BERTI labored in the
Philadelphia Diocese. According to Bishop Kenrick's diary, he was in charge of
St. Francis Parish in August, 1842. Our records show him to be here from May to
October, 1842. In 1844, he was laboring in this vicinity, and in 1845, he was in
REVEREND PATRICK A. PENDERGAST was ordained
on September 27, 1840, by Bishop Kenrick at St. John's Church, Philadelphia, Pa.
In 1841, he labored in Crawford County; in 1844, we find him in Centre County
with his residence at Bellefonte. From Bellefonte, he served the people at
Clearfield. On August 10, 1842, he was commissioned by Bishop Kenrick to record
the transfer of the church property in Crossingville. He was assigned to
Honesdale, Pa., in 1845, assuming at the same time the parish at Mt. Pleasant.
REVEREND J. BERBIGIER administered to the
people of Clearfield beginning with 1846. It seems that he was ordained by Rt.
Rev. Francis P. Kenrick on March 9, 1846. He was also stationed at Frenchville.
REVEREND JOSEPH F. DEANE was apparently a
native of Ireland and came to this country. He was ordained at St. John's,
Philadelphia, by Bishop Kenrick, August 29, 1841. Before being assigned here in
Clearfield he was stationed at St. Paul's in Pittsburgh. He was in Clearfield in
the year 1847, at which time he served the surrounding territory. In 1852, he
was at St. Patrick's, in Erie, Pa. He later served in the Diocese of Buffalo, as
pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, of that city, going from there to Rochester, N.
Y. His death occurred there on October 20, 1860.
REVEREND JOSEPH A. GALLAGHER was born at
Killygordon, County Donegal, Ireland, about 1823. Among other places, he studied
at Cincinnati and was ordained at St. Paul's Cathedral, Pittsburgh, Pa., June
6, 1847. He is found to have labored in Clearfield the latter part of 1847 and
the beginning of 1848. At the same time, he
was identified with the church at Cameron's Bottom and in Cambria County. He
was pastor in Loretta, Pa., about 1852 and later went to San Francisco. He died
April 27, 1887.
REVEREND JAMES F. MORRIS administered the sacrament
of Baptism in Clearfield during the year 1851. At that time, he seems to have
been pastor at Frenchville, serving Clearfield, Grampian Hills and Morris
Township from that place. In 1859, the name, Reverend J. Morris, appears in
Wisconsin and Minnesota, and in 1868, a Reverend J. Morris is listed in a
directory of the "Priests in Ireland."
REVEREND THOMAS LEDWITH was born in Meath, Ireland,
February 3, 1821. According to diocesan records, he was ordained at Fryburg,
Clarion County, on August 23, 1851, by Rt. Reverend John Timon,. Bishop of
Buffalo. From 1852 until 1857, he came to Clearfield at regular intervals, so
the baptismal records reveal. His missions included Red Bank, Brookville,
Corsica, and Grampian Hills. In 1871, he is recorded as a priest of the Diocese
of Buffalo. He died at Randolph, N. Y. on October 12, 1888.
REVEREND THOMAS TRACY was born in the town of
Virginia, County Cavan, Ireland, in August, 1836. He studied at St. Vincent's
College and at Cleveland, Ohio. He was ordained for the Diocese of Erie, June
21, 1858, at Erie, Pa. by Rt. Reverend J. M. Young. He was assistant at St.
Patrick's. Erie, and then came to Clearfield in August, 1863. He was also pastor
of St. Michael's, Greenville. In 1877, he entered the Benedictine Order. He
celebrated his golden anniversary in the priesthood in 1908 at St. Bernard's
College, Alabama. His death occurred at St. Bernard's College on June 14, 1915,
and he was buried in the College cemetery.
REVEREND WILLIAM THOMAS D'ARCY, from the only
information obtainable, came to the Diocese of Erie from Covington, Ky., in
1865. He was stationed at Sidney, Ohio, at Union Mills and at Titusville. During
the year 1868 he spent some time in Clearfield.
REVEREND KIERNAN O'BRANNIGAN was born in Queen's
County, Ireland, in 1822. He finished his studies at Carlow College and came to
the United States in 1854. He was ordained by Rt. Reverend Michael O'Connor,
Bishop of Pittsburgh, about June 1, 1854. He was stationed at Crossingville,
Conneautville, and Greenville. He came to Clearfield in 1868, remaining here
until 1870. From here he went to Osceola Mills and then to Sharon, Pa., where he
died August 7, 1888.
REVEREND M. A. M. WURZFELD was ordained by Rt. Reverend F. P. Kenrick, at Philadelphia, March 24, 1849. From 1849 to 1851, he was in charge of Christ Church, Chambersburg, Pa. He
Pa. After a long illness, Father Short died at St. Elizabeth's
Hospital, Bridgton, Mass., November 3, 1934. He was buried in Hudson, Mass.
REVEREND PATRICK J. BLAKE was born at Fall
River, Mass., March 2, 1873. He studied at Manhattan College and at St.
Bonaventure's College and Seminary, Allegany, N. Y. He was ordained at St.
Peter's Cathedral, Erie, by Rt. Reverend John E. Fitzmaurice, on January 14,
1902. He was assigned as assistant pro tem at St. Peter's Cathedral in January,
1902. He was pastor pro tem at St. Eulalia's Church, Coudersport, from January
to March, 1902, and was appointed pastor of St. Joseph's Church, Mt. Jewett,
March 18, 1902. On August 20, 1916, he was sent to Cambridge Springs as pastor
of St. Anthony's Church where he remained until November 1, 1932, at which time
he was sent to Clearfleld. He was pastor of St. Francis Church at the time of
his death, June 15, 1933. He died at St. Vincent's Hospital, Erie, Pa., and was
buried in Fall River, Mass.
REVEREND CARL L. HEIDT was born in Erie, Pa.,
August 4, 1885, a son of St. Joseph's Parish. After attending the parochial
schools of Erie, Father Heidt became a student of St. Jerome's College, Ontario,
Canada. He studied philosophy and theology at St. Bonaventure's College and
Seminary, Allegany, N. Y., and was ordained there June 15, 1910, by Rt. Reverend
Charles H. Colton, Bishop of Buffalo. He read his First Solemn Mass in St.
Joseph's Church, Erie, on June 21, 1910. He served as assistant at St. John's,
Erie, Pa., from February, 1911, to May, 1913, and then was sent to the Sacred
Heart Parish, Erie, until February 15, 1922. On this latter date, he was
appointed to St. Walburga's Church as pastor. While stationed at Titusville, he
built the new school building. On July 9, 1933, he was appointed pastor of St.
Francis Church, continuing in this capacity until September 15, 1933, at which
time he was assigned to the pastorate of St. Elizabeth's Church at Corry, Pa.
REVEREND MARTIN N. GLYNN, the son of John F. and Catherine (Noon) Glynn, was born November 13, 1898. He attended St. Andrew's Parochial School, North Side, Pittsburgh, Pa., and then was graduated from St. Mary's High School. Entering Duquesne University in 1914, he was graduated from the School of Arts in 1920. He then enrolled at St. Bonaventure Seminary. He was ordained by Most Reverend John Mark Gannon at St. Bonaventure Church, Allegany, N. Y., on July 15, 1923. Appointed as assistant at St. Peter's Cathedral, Erie, Pa., he remained there until sent by Bishop Gannon to take charge of St. Francis Parish, September 20, 1933. From 1923 until 1926, he was professor of mathematics at the Cathedral Preparatory School for Boys.
REVEREND EDWARD PETER McMANAMAN, the son of
James J. and Elizabeth (Dillon) McManaman was born May 3, 1900. He attended the
grades and high school at St. Mary's in Wilkesbarre, Pa. At the completion of
his high school work, he entered St. Thomas College in Scranton where he
remained for his freshman and sophomore subjects and then entered St.
Bonaventure's Seminary for his philosophical studies. Graduating with his Arts
Degree, he was sent by Bishop Gannon, to the American College in Rome. He was
graduated from the American College with the degree of Doctor of Theology and
was ordained March 12, 1927, by Bishop Palica. He was assigned to St. Francis as
assistant in May, 1927, and remained here until May, 1929, at which time he was
appointed to the post of Assistant Superintendent of Schools. On February 16,
1938, Father McManaman was appointed rector of St. Peter's Cathedral.
REVEREND EUGENE V. DANIELSON, the son of
Anthony and Mary (Kirk) Danielson, was born August 12, 1900 at Wilkesbarre, Pa.
He attended the parochial schools at Wilkesbarre and, in 1916, entered the
Josephinum College and Seminary. On Ascension Thursday, May 9, 1929, Father
Danielson was ordained to the priesthood at St. Joseph's Cathedral, Columbus,
Ohio, by the Rt. Reverend James J. Hartley. On May 25, 1929, he was assigned to
St. Francis Church and he remained here until June 4, 1931, going from here to
St. John's, Erie, Pa.
REVEREND FRANCIS JOSEPH SCHLINDWEIN, the son of Edward R. and Margaret (Betz) Schlindwein, was born in Erie, Pa., March 16, 1905. He attended the Sacred Heart Parochial School and then went to St. Bonaventure's College and Seminary. He was ordained at St. Peter's Cathedral, Erie, Pa., on May 14, 1931 by the Most Reverend John Mark Gannon. He was assigned to St. Francis Parish, June 4, 1931, and remained until July 9, 1933, when he was appointed pastor of the Holy Cross Church, Brandycamp, Pa.
REVEREND JOSEPH FRANCIS MEISINGER, the son of
John George and Anna (Heinrich) Meisinger, was born September 11, 1902, at
Clarion, Pa. He attended the Immaculate Conception School in Clarion, and, in
1920, entered Campion College, Wisconsin. In 1924, he enrolled at St. Vincent's
College and Seminary from which he was ordained. He was elevated to the
priesthood at St. Peter's Cathedral on May 25, 1933, with Bishop Cannon
officiating. In June, 1933, he was assigned to St. Francis Church as assistant
and remained here until February 3, 1934.
REVEREND JOHN LEO ANDERTON, the son of John
and Marian Anderton, was born at Oil City, December 3, 1907. He attended the St.
Joseph's Parochial and High Schools in Oil City and then entered St.
Bonaventure's College. His philosophical studies and one year of theology were
made at Louvain, Belgium, and he finished his theological course with the degree
Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the American College in Rome. He was ordained
on December 8, 1932, at American College Chapel, Rome, by Cardinal Marcheiti. He
was appointed by Bishop Cannon as assistant at St. Francis, Clearfield, on
August 5, 1933.
There are records of some Benedictine Fathers baptizing here in the early days, prominent among whom was Father Amandus, in the year 1856. Likewise Bishop Kenrick mentions Rev. William Loughran and Rev. Peter Lemke.
Rev. Joseph L. Kerin Rev. Andrew J. Cunningham
Rev. James Mooney Rev. John V. Mooney
REV. JOSEPH LEO KERIN, the son of John Peter and Katherine Agnes (Lynch) Kerin, was born on July 27th, 1890 in Clearfield. His father came here from Cork, County Clare, Ireland, while his mother is one of the oldest persons living who were baptized in St. Francis Church, being baptized in the spring of 1853. Father Kerin received his First Solemn Communion and Confirmation in St. Francis Church and attended St. Francis School. He later attended LaSalle College, Philadelphia, St. John's College, Washington, D. C., and St. Joseph's Normal School in Maryland. In September, 1920, he accompanied Rt. Rev. Bishop Joseph Tacconi to China, where, on August 23,
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH
REV. ANDREW CUNNINGHAM, the son of Robert and
Margaret (Sheridan) Cunningham was born in Monticello, Sullivan County, N. Y. He
studied in the public schools and later attended St. Canisus Preparatory School,
St. Bonaventure College and Niagara University. He finished his theology at St.
Joseph's in Troy, N. Y., and was ordained in the Albany Cathedral. For ten years
he was stationed at St. Ann's Church in Albany, N. Y. Father Cunningham is the
brother of Mrs. S. J. Waterworth.
REV. JAMES and REV. JOHN MOONEY, the sons of Matthew and Bridget (Sheridan) Mooney, were born near Binghamton, N. Y. They both attended the parochial schools, taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. They studied at St. Bonaventure's College and Seminary and both were ordained by Bishop Ryan of Buffalo. Their years in the priesthood were spent in the Buffalo Diocese.
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH
Sisters of St. Francis Convent
We wonder sometimes whether the individual
Catholic really appreciates the presence of the Sisters. The mere idea of their
lives should be an inspiration not only for Catholics, but for everyone with
whom they come in contact.
As we have said, they have offered up their
lives for the instruction of youth in the Ways of God. As girls, with inborn
maternal affection and instinct, the desire rose from their hearts one day to
take their places in the world as the mothers of men. But with this desire came
a more lofty call, the call to assist the Saviour who said, "Suffer the little
children to come unto Me," the call to sacrifice, the call to separate
themselves from home, from family ties and to live in the seclusion of community
Their greatest burden today is not in the
presentation of secular knowledge, not in the teaching of God's Law, but in
trying to supply for the neglect on the part of some parents; neglest [sic] most
forcefully seen with respect to the law of obedience and respect for authority.
They assume this burden with sympathy for the child and try to instill and
nourish this great virtue, but frequently they encounter obstacles on the part
of the parents as they endeavor to curb the will of the child. Nevertheless they
bear these burdens with resignation and ask as recompense God's Blessing on
their work; that their children may become God-loving and law-abiding men and
women, imbued with faith and religion, and loyal citizens of the community.
They are sustained in their work by prayer. At dawn they rise and, having made the morning offering of themselves to God, they hasten to the chapel where all community prayers are offered. There they await with childlike anxiety the Offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, their greatest consolation of the day. Frequently throughout the day they return to the altar to lift their voices in praise of the Master. Before retiring they tread, their way again to the chapel, there to report the result of the day's labors, to make renewed acts of love and fidelity and finally to ask His Grace for the ensuing night.
Sister Marcella, who was in charge of the
school, graduated her first high school class in 1898. Sister Marcella remained
at the head of the school until 1908, when she was sent to take over the high
school at Ridgway. Sister Marcella was succeeded by Sister Marie Frances, who
held the principalship until her death which occurred in 1932.
Combining the years of faithful service given
to St. Francis Parish by Sisters Marie Frances, Agnes, Mercedes and Beatrice,
over a century of loyalty and fidelity to duty is represented. This service was
shared among the three different departments of the school. Sister Mercedes
taught the primary grades, and she watched her many little charges grow beyond
her care to be taken over by Sister Beatrice in the intermediate grades. Sister
Marie Frances took charge of them in the high school department, until the time
of their graduation. Sister Agnes taught the music in the school and conducted
her own music classes at the same time; and so successful was her work that on
several occasions after his visits to St. Francis, our Most Reverend Bishop,
John M. Gannon, commended her work.
We might here give a tribute to Sister Marie
Frances, which was written by one of her former pupils, Miss Mary C. Malloy:
"It is difficult to put into words a genuine appreciation of, and a lasting impression made on the writer during an association of years by this wonderful consecrated woman. Sister Marie Frances was more than a teacher—she was a shining example, an inspiration and an understanding friend. Separated from actual contact with the world by her profession and her Habit, she none the less kept abreast of the times and was able on all occasions to talk intelligently on the most up-to-the-minute subject; to give sound advice on matters which might have seemed utterly foreign to her life and thoughts, but into which she seemed to have some keen insight which touched the point unerringly
and helped one to make many an important decision affecting the future concretely.
Sisters who are natives of Clearfield are:
Sisters Doloretta Thorn, Melita Bachman, Constance Sackett, Bertha McDermott,
Corona Voinchet, Rose Derminer, Monica Clark, Nolaska Kratzer, Austin Kratzer,
Rose Evelyn Mann, and Antoinette Reilly.
Following is a list of the Sisters comprising
the present faculty of St. Francis School:
Sister Boniface, who has completed her eleventh year in St. Francis School, is teacher of English and History in the High School, and is Principal thereof.
Sister M. Marcella
Sister Marie Francis
Sister LaSalette has
occupied her of English, French and Shorthand for nine years.
Sister Borgia, teacher of Latin and
Mathematics, has just completed her tenth year at St. Francis.
Sister Mary Esther has been teaching the
Sciences, German and Typewriting for seven years.
Sister Norberta, who succeeded Sister Agnes in
September, 1935, has charge of the music in both the grade and high schools.
Sister Eleanora, the seventh and eighth grade
teacher, has completed two years of service at St. Francis.
Sister Pierre, with eleven years of service,
and Sister Gerarda teach the third and fourth grades.
Sister Amelda has served as housekeeper at the
convent for several years.
The Sisters of St. Joseph have loyally served St. Francis congregation almost a half century, having instructed and guided the lives of hundreds and hundreds of children, preparing them for much more than just the struggle with worldly matters, strengthening their faith and pointing a sure way heavenward.
St. Francis Convent
THE NEW CONVENT
The corner-stone of the new convent was laid
in July, 1926, and in February, 1928, the Sisters took possession of the new
This beautiful structure, one of the most outstanding and most modern convents in the country, was erected during the pastorate of Father Ryan.
The Old Cemetery
In 1876 the heirs of the Hugh Leavy Estate
gave to the church a piece of ground one and one-half acres in extent, land most
opportunely donated as the first burial site no longer held sufficient space.
The bodies lying beside the church were removed to the newly hallowed ground.
This ground was on a high knob, just outside of the southeast part of Clearfield
Borough. From it could be glimpsed the town and the crosses seemed very close to
heaven in this high, lovely spot.
In 1907 the Rev. M. A. Ryan realized that again more burial space was needed. After some time the ideal site was found. Acessibility, beauty of surroundings and future needs having been considered, in 1908, the old McEnally farm was purchased from Messers Snyder and Bigler. Plans for the new cemetery were immediately started and a committee of the following men was organized: Rev. M. A. Ryan, Frank Fielding, William Dufton, H. A. Kratzer, A. E. Leitzinger, J. F. Leitzinger, J. P. O'Laughlin, James Reading, Joseph Roessner, Charles Roessner, R. D. Sheehe, W. J. Usher, John Stock, H. S. Whiteman and P. A. Gaulin. Two superintendents, A. E. Leitzinger and John Stock, headed the committee.
The plot consists of about fourteen acres
located about a mile from town, overlooking the valley. William Stock, son of
John Stock, designed the new burial ground and his plans have been followed to
the present day.
About four of the acres were completely
cleared and following the idea of a cross, four sections of ground were evenly
allotted. A fine ash road was built into the place and that road traverses the
four cross sections. The entrance road, flanked by a heavy hand wrought iron
gate, was planted in sweet smelling mock orange bushes for the entire six
hundred foot approach. Within the grounds, the road has dividing it in the
middle a wide assortment of planting—the fragrant white and purple lilac, the
colorful pink of the smoke tree, the stately white hydrangea, the early yellow
of spring forsythia and fragrant native shrubbery. Careful planning resulted in
an arrangement of continuous seasonal blooms.
In the very center of the cemetery, in the
traverse center of the cross design was erected on a green sodded elevation of
ground a large round concrete step. It was crowned by the symbolical cross, then
a wooden affair. In 1930 this cross was replaced by a handsome bronze one, high
enough to be seen from the lower approaches. A startling real corpus adorns the
cross and the dead Christ seems to hold silent communion with the parish dead.
This outstanding feature of the cemetery was given by Dr. and Mrs. S. J.
Waterworth in memory of their daughter Margaret. The entire field was planted in
1908 in an enclosure of Japanese larches, tall pines, canoe beeches and Norway
spruces. Calvary was made lovely and, after some $10,000 had been spent, St.
Francis felt a justifiable pride in its new cemetery.
The years since 1908 have seen Calvary resting
peacefully. The beauty of the place has been due largely to the personal
interest of Mr. A. E. Leitzinger who has superintended the cemetery since that
time. His gratuitous care of the grounds has been done with the idea of present
and future beauty always in mind. No perpetual upkeep has ever been levied on
the parishioners; voluntary offerings have been few. It is individuals with the
pioneer spirit who have made and kept the cemetery the beauty spot that it is
The first burial in Calvary took place on April 12, 1908, Miss Mary McAtee. Since then 865 have been laid to rest. As the years demand further use the ten acres farther back and on the town side of the hill will be utilized. And there, tranquilly and beautifully quiet on the breast of the hill, this garden of God will continue to shelter lovingly the parishioners of St. Francis.
Ellis Michaels, Clearfield County PAGenWeb Archives File Manager
Copyright 2009, USGenWeb Archives