Now that I’ve started writing about the letters exchanged between Agnes Tully and various priests associated with the parishes in Chicago and New Lexington, Ohio, something is happening akin to my experience while posting about Frank Stevens’ companions in his Navy and Air Force years. I want to know: Who are these people?
In the case of these Fathers, what makes this call particularly poignant is that they, themselves, had no children who might, one day, look back to research their ancestry. And so they are left, much as a fellow genealogy researcher put it in naming her own blog: The Last Leaf on This Branch.
Who follows up for these last leaves? Admittedly, the Church becomes their family—and often, that ecclesiastical association makes sure to recognize the service of these lifetime ministers. Sometimes, these remembrances are even posted online, outlasting the recall of those whose personal affiliation has long since also been forgotten.
That was not, however, the case with any trace of online mentions for Dan E. Reilly of Chicago. Though he mentioned, in his 1909 letter to Agnes, that he would be serving at the parish in Belen, New Mexico, there was no online mention of such a term. Despite that, of course, regular reader and researcher extraordinaire, Iggy, was able to uncover some links. He identified a few possible census records in Chicago. One, from 1880, couples nicely with this possible hint from a 2002 query found on GenForum. Another census listing, much later, shows the household in which a Dan Reilly resides aligning with a listing of assistant pastors found in a passage (page 369) from The Archdiocese of Chicago: Antecedents and Developments.
The following priests have labored at different times as assistant pastors of St. Anne's: Fathers Hemlock, Gallagher, Hennessey, Walsh, Pickham, Reynolds, Crimmins, O'Shea, Purcell, Kearney, Tuohy, Reilly and McNally.
Could this be the “Dan E. Reilly,” as he signs his name, who wrote Agnes Tully from Tucson so many years ago? What became of him? Was he, indeed, a priest? If so, where is there any mention of his lifetime of service?
Though not part of the Navy or Air Force in the midst of a brutal World War, men such as Dan E. Reilly—and Father Austin Cush, who was also mentioned in the letter to Agnes—are also dedicated to the service of others. And just as I wish to remember those who served in that long-ago war, I find myself wanting to acknowledge those men who served in a very different type of war: the battle for men’s souls.