Saturday, August 25, 2012

Knowing Now Who He Was

A very young-looking priest stands in front of parishioners, his hands placed upon their heads as they kneel, praying.

The photograph capturing this moment is labeled

Fr. John Davidson
my cousin

Below the caption is the signature of Agnes Tully Stevens’ daughter, Pat, who kept these mementos from John Bernard Davidson’s ordination for the rest of her life.

Knowing now who this gentleman was, I can piece together a reasonable guess that he was also the mystery person in another Stevens family photograph. In fact, that picture was from a later set of snapshots which included various groupings of almost all the men in Will and Agnes Tully Stevens' family.

In the setting below, Father John Davidson is flanked by the Stevens sons. From left to right, they would be Bill and John, then youngest Gerald directly in front of the priest, with my father-in-law Frank to his right. The next man is, unfortunately, unidentified (though, believe me, we—in the extended family—have tried to figure this one out). The man to the far right is Agnes’ husband and the boys’ father, Will Stevens.

As was probably customary for ordinations, John Davidson provided three cards, each with different artwork, all presented as “a remembrance” including a simple plea: “Pray for me.”

“You have not chosen Me, but I
have chosen you” (St. John: 15-16.)

A remembrance
Of my ordination
To the holy priesthood
April 6, 1929
And of
My first solemn mass
April 7, 1929
John Bernard Davidson

Pray for me
“Lest perhaps, when I have preached
to others, I myself should become a
castaway” (1 Cor. 9, 27.)


  1. Jacqi, don't you just love it when one piece of information provides the solution to other questions. I like how Agnes kept Father John's mementos, and now you too keep his memory fresh. It's our job.

    1. Joan, we certainly are blessed with the capability of passing these finds along. That's part of what makes it possible to keep the memory of these family members alive.

      And oh, yes, I do love uncovering a "doorway" link. Think I will be busy researching this weekend...

  2. Aside from putting names to faces, the really neat thing for me as a non-family reader is learning about the customs of the ordination. I remember my great-aunts talking with some pride about their aunt who was a nun. However, to my knowledge there is no "souvenir" commemorating the event, if there was such a thing.

    1. Wendy, I'm glad to have you along as a "non-family reader." I really value the community that is clustering around all the genealogy blogs and the continuing conversations the blogs are generating.

      Your comment about learning these customs really resonates with me. As a non-Catholic, I've had to learn a lot about the customs, constantly checking with Catholic family and friends to make sure I'm not committing some faux pas!

      I don't know much about the nuns. However, there are some in my husband's family lines, so I will stumble upon more information about commemorations as these issues come up in my research. Of course, I'm always keeping an eye out for others who have posted on this same topic.

  3. I love it when things begin to fall into place like that. Beautifully written Jacqi, thanks.

    1. So glad you stopped by! I've just discovered your own blog and enjoyed reading your work there today.

  4. I've been following your blog so long, I could have named Mr. Stevens, Frank, and Gerald. :) Frank didn't change much.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...