Saturday, June 9, 2012

Providing for a Feast

It is fast approaching November 16, 1862, the date of Patrick Flannigan’s ordination to the priesthood. The night prior to this event in the small parish of Father Martin Fox in Rockland, Michigan, someone realizes that the issue of food must somehow be addressed before morning. We see how Antoine Rezek approaches the subject in his History of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette—and realize the reason why the author surmised that the low-ranking student in the household, Frederick Eis, would not have slept a wink the night prior.
…we reckon and are willing to believe that he did not sleep that night, for at nine o’clock Saturday night there was not a piece of meat nor a morsel of bread in the house, and yet both had to be provided for the feast. Father Fox owned a four-month-old calf which he had received from somebody as contribution. To provide a feast for his guests on the occasion, he ordered the student Eis and another boy from the location to kill the calf…. By the time the good Bishop got up the flayed carcass of the calf was cooling in the November breeze of a Lake Superior wind. Not knowing of the student’s night-toil, the Bishop chartered his services for the necessary preparations in the church.
Following the night’s inventiveness in the food department, the student now is drafted to assist in the efforts to properly furnish the church for the ordination—literally improvising to create furniture from supplies on hand.
With the break of day everything was ready for ordination in church and pantry, only the latter still lacked the bread, which article Father Fox supplied by begging two loaves, from the neighbors. At ten o’clock Baraga celebrated Pontifical High-Mass and raised P. M. Flannigan to the priesthood. It was the first ordination outside of the Cathedral in the diocese and justly much importance, as well as solemnity, was attached to the occasion which drew masses of people from the Ontonagon valley. Nor would the Bishop countenance that even the cooks should be prevented, by preparing the dinner, from witnessing the ordination; he was content to wait after the ceremonies in the church, until some young ladies prepared the festival spread.
Such was the simple yet heartfelt ordination of Patrick Michael Flannigan, immigrant son of the Irish family that settled in the same rugged region in which he began his service in the priesthood. On November 16, 1862, Patrick Flannigan's mother, the former Ellen Sullivan, got her wish to see her son elevated to the priesthood in her family's humble parish. Bishop Baraga got to return just in time to catch a steamer back to his home base in Sault Ste. Marie before the ravages of the severe winter descended upon his diocese. From that point on, Father Flannigan served as pastor in the tiny parish at Eagle Harbor, then at the Cliff Mine. With the fast-increasing population around the mines in Ontonagon County, and the progress made with the recently-established Ursuline Academy, Father Flannigan was called to assist his old mentor and teacher, Father Fox, in May, 1864.

And the poor, put-upon student Frederick Eis? The one who did not get to sleep a wink the night before Patrick Flannigan's ordination? He eventually walked that same path, himself, and further: elevated in 1899 to serve as Bishop of this same diocese.

It must not have been long after the winter of 1862 and Patrick Flannigan's ordination, though, that something transpired to call him away from his family’s home to serve in a vastly different region: the south side of the city of Chicago. It is there where we found him, thanks to a chance encounter, stumbling upon a stray news clipping from a 1907 Chicago newspaper, as we started this journey through obscure church history—a station he kept for the remainder of his life, influencing the lives of many others, most of whom shared the same Irish heritage, though expressed in a lifestyle vastly different from that of the rugged north land he and his family had adopted as home.

Photograph, above right: Father Patrick M. Flannigan, after 1862 ordination; from History of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette, page 165; in the public domain.

1 comment:

  1. Oh WoW! You found a picture of Patrick Flannigan!Anf what a handsome young man he was...he looks deep in thought!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...