Last summer an antique dealer struck gold while browsing
wares in Miamitown, Ohio. During a routine excursion through the local flea
market, Terri Ziepfel came across an item in the discounted pile, a plastic
holder with two careworn inserts. The inserts caught her eye: an ornate tintype
of St. Francis adjacent to an elegant typesetting of the Prayer of St. Francis.
Content with the purchase, she was astonished to later discover a wonderfully
crafted gold medal tucked away behind the tintype.
Intrigued by the compelling treasure, Ziepfel kept it in her
wallet for nearly six months until deciding to learn who the enigmatic priest
was. The decorative script emblazoned across the medal was a clue for where she
could start: ‘Souvenir of 15th Anniversary of my Ordination to the
Holy Priesthood, Rev. P.H. Callanan.’
Zeipfel located a blog posting I had written on Fr. Patrick
H. Callanan, a former St. Mary's, Foxboro pastor (1885-1890). After reading the
essay she forwarded the medal along to me writing, "I want this historical
honor to find its way home."
Fr. Callanan was born
on February 4, 1856 in New York City, the son of Irish Immigrants, Michael and
Catherine Callanan, natives of County Cork. In September 1870, at the age of 14
he entered Boston College and was a member of the first graduating class in
1877. He earned both a bachelor’s and a
master of arts and was the first "College Historian". Later that year,
he entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in Troy, New York and on December 18, 1880 he
became the first Boston College graduate to be ordained a priest. In March
1885, at the age of 29, he became the youngest priest and the first Boston
College alumnus to be appointed a pastor in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Fr. Callanan's first pastorate was St. Mary's in Foxboro. It
was a very challenging task to say the least. But his accomplishment in Foxboro
was an early demonstration of many future pastoral successes. The twenty-five
year old parish in Foxboro was broken in spirit. It was also one of the
financially poorest in the archdiocese due to two previous churches destroyed
by fire. The church building at the time of his assignment was described as
"barn-like." On the occasion of his 10th anniversary of ordination,
Fr. Callanan remarked to his parishioners, "I found you six years ago a
disunited, a discontented, and forgive me for saying it, a rather luke-warm
people, and I found you without a church, fit to be called a house of God. I
look on you tonight a happy, united, and practical Christian people, with a church
worthy of your faith, worthy of your generosity, worthy of being called a house
|1887 Foxboro Reporter|
Leaving Foxboro in 1890, Fr.
Callanan was appointed pastor of St. John’s in Newton Lower Falls. In
1906 he established the mission of St. Paul’s in Wellesley Hills and in May
1912, he was assigned pastor of St. Peter’s in Cambridge. He remained here for
the rest of his life. In 1927, the year Boston College first graduates reached
their golden jubilee; Father Callanan was awarded an honorary doctor of laws. At
the time of his death, on October 29, 1933, Rev. Dr. Patrick H. Callanan was
the oldest living Boston College graduate.
Truly, Fr. Callanan was one of most remarkable pastors to
serve St. Mary's parish, the town, and the Archdiocese of Boston. The finding of
its way home of the medal offers a historical window to view and celebrate our
collective community history and the life of a noteworthy Catholic priest.
read more http://milhomme.blogspot.com/2009/01/foxboro-fr-patrick-h-callanan-priest.html
|1885 St. Marys|
|1890 Remodeled Curch|
|1905 at 15th Ordination|
|1877 BC First Graduating Class Callanan back row far right|
|Tin Type Behind which medal was found|