The History of Our Cradle Land
by Thomas H. Kinsella

Transcribed by Sean Furniss

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Michael Fink was born in Triftersberg, Bavaria, on the 12th of June 1834, and, after studying in the Latin school and gymnasium at Ratisbon, came to this country at the age of 18. Called to a religious life, he sought admission among the Benedictines of St. Vincent's abbey in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He was received by the founder, Abbot Wimmer, and made his profession on the 6th of January, 1854, taking the name of Louis Maria. After completing his theological studies he was ordained priest on May 28, 1857, by Bishop Young of Erie. The first missionary labors of the young Benedictine priest were at Bellefonte, Pa., and Newark, N.J. He was then made pastor of a congregation at Covington, Ky., where he completed a fine church. He introduced into the parish Benedictine nuns to direct a girls' school, which was one of his earliest cares. Appointed to St. Joseph's, Chicago, he aroused a spirit of faith in his flock at that place and gathered so many around the altar that a new church was required, which he erected at a cost of $80,000, planting a large and well arranged school house beside it. As prior of the house of his order in Atchison, Kan., he showed the same zeal and ability, and when Bishop Miege wished to obtain a coadjutor to whom he could resign his charge, that prelate solicited the appointment of the prior of St. Benedict. On June 11, 1871, he was consecrated as Bishop of Eucarpia, in St. Joseph's church, Chicago, which he had erected. Bishop Fink not only aided Bishop Miege in the episcopal labors of the vicariate, but in his absence had the entire charge. In 1874 Bishop Miege resigned the vicariate, and resumed his position in the Society of Jesus as a simple Father.

Bishop Fink became vicar-apostolic of Kansas till the erection of the See of Leavenworth, May 22, 1877, when he transferred to it. The diocese is a large and important one, and Bishop Fink in pastorals and otherwise shows his zeal for Catholic progress. His diocese is well provided with educational establishments for its 80,000 Catholics. St. Benedict's College is connected with the Benedictine Abbey at Atchison; the Jesuit Fathers direct St. Mary's College at St. Mary's; there are besides three academies and forty-eight parochial schools, with 4,000 pupils, under Benedictine and Franciscan Sisters, Sisters of St. Joseph and of Charity, and of St. Agnes. The diocese also possesses orphan houses and hospitals under the charge of the Sisters of Charity.

"When I came to Leavenworth," said Bishop Fink, "there were only about thirty or forty Catholic priests and about 15,000 souls in the State. Today there are 150 priests and over 100,000 souls. I was the first Bishop in the State, and the only towns of any importance, save Leavenworth, were Lawrence, St. Marys and Topeka. Great efforts were made about 1879 to secure emigration to Kansas. Mr. D. C. Smith, who was then connected with the State agricultural board, had charge of the emigration, and sent out thousands of pamphlets prepared by the board. I myself sent out 12,000, and about 3,000 in addition which I prepared myself. I sent these pamphlets to England and Ireland and secured the emigration of many thousands of souls.

"In those days the country grew so rapidly that no map was good longer than six months, and I had to fly around all over the State attending to my church duties. The work became too heavy, and finally I applied to Rome for the establishment of additional dioceses and selected Wichita and Concordia as the future Sees.

Bishop Fink departed this life March 17th, 1904, and is buried in the Convent Cemetery at Leavenworth. May he rest in peace.

The Right Reverend Bishop Fink Administered the Sacrament of
Confirmation to the Following in Paola, Kansas, in 1874,
The Rev. A. J. Abel, Pastor.


John Peter Gorman Tim William McGrath Ella Mary Sheridan
William Timothy Maloney Geo. John Cunningham Mary Jane Rigney
Richard Thomas Gorman George Peter Harkin Mary Martha Connors
Peter John Keenan James John Moran Martha Lizzie Nolan
William Peter Fritz William Burns Mina Agnes Stolz
Peter Mathew McCarthy Alfred G. Sloan Nora Anna Moran
Robert Andrew McGrath Mary Ellen Burns Ellen Allen
William Richard Clark Susan E. Burns Ella Mary Conners
James Phillip Nolen Bridget Alice Gorman Ida Anna Croan


The first native American student ordained to the Holy Priesthood in the Diocese of Leavenworth was Daniel J. Hurley. This event took place in the Cathedral on June 29, 1877, Rt. Rev. L. M. Fink officiating.

Father Hurley was at once appointed pastor of Paola and Mission where he remained for six years, having been transferred to Junction City in 1883.

This young priest endeared himself to all at Paola. After forty years he is still affectionately remembered and his name is held in benediction by the older members of the parish of Holy Trinity.

Nature and grace combined to make him lovable. He was simple in manner, very sincere and prudently zealous. He organized the scattered little flock into a united and self-centered congregation thus completing the work of good Father Abel, and his predecessor, Father Wattron.

Father Hurley displayed marked executive ability so that whatever he put his hand to prospered. Youth and good will were on his side, nothing daunted him. The bad conditions of the roads, the inclemency of weather or the more trying perplexities of depleted finances were all overcome with patient determination.

He suffered much in the winter season attending the distant missions and in going on sick calls at night time; in fact, the probability is that the severe rheumatism of his latter years could be traced to this, for he was never comfortably clothed, nor was his home accommodations adequate. He was indeed a poor priest, but forgot all about it because he forgot himself. The church, the people and the little children were all he lived for. The little catechism was all he taught and little kindnesses filled all his days. He died poor but well beloved, on September 7, 1903.

In Father Hurley's time it was noticed that the Old Stone church was fast falling to decay; large cracks appeared in the walls and it was felt that it was no longer safe for people to assemble there.

This necessitated the building of a new church. It was a daring undertaking when we consider that the number of families then in the parish was not over fifty, probably forty families were all that were worth counting.

The difficulty forced itself on the people, however, and Father Hurley was the man providentially sent to accomplish the work. Plans were drawn and approved by Bishop Fink. The excavations were made, the foundations laid, the rock being hauled by the people. The stone work completed, the corner stone was laid on August 29, 1880. (This stone is now a part of the watertable of the present church at the southeast corner of the sacristy.)

The church was to be built of the best brick--50 feet by 80 feet, with bell tower, shingle roof and plain glass windows. The shell of the building was soon completed but it took several years to finish the interior.

The financial part of the undertaking rested on the pastor. He was, however ably seconded by the ladies, than which no finer body of women workers could be found anywhere. This has always been true of Holy Trinity parish. The women have done nobly in every crisis and have come to the rescue in every emergency. The ladies organized a bazaar or fair twice each year to which the non-Catholic citizens gave their patronage freely. These fairs were great events in those days and proved very successful. Father Hurley had the pleasure of seeing all indebtedness paid off by the time he was promoted to Junction City, August, 1883. The building which cost $13,000 when completed by Father Gleason in November, 1886, and was then dedicated by Bishop Fink with due solemnity.


M. F. Campbell, writing for the Junction City Press, Nov. 16, 1896, said of Father Hurley:

"The Rev. D. J. Hurley, pastor of St. Xavier's church, Junction City, Kansas, and dean over seven surrounding counties, was born July 5, 1854, in Boston, Mass. He is one of a family of seven, two of whom are priests, and one a sister of the order of St. Vincent De Paul. He came to Kansas with his parents in 1858, being then but four years old, so that he may almost be called a veritable Kansan and a son of the soil, and therefore, more eminently fitted to cope with the emergencies of the growing west.

"Father Hurley's earliest school days were passed in the Cathedral school of Leavenworth, and his remarkable progress there is attested by the fact that at the age of eleven he was sent to the Seminary of the Assumption, which flourished then under the management of Father Defouri, in Topeka. After a seven years' course he was sent from there to West Moreland, Penn., where at the Benedictine college, St. Vincent, his education was completed in five years, although he was not yet old enough to be ordained a priest. He was, however, made deacon, and returned to Leavenworth to wait the allotted time. Twenty-four is the required age for ordination in Holy Orders, but, by special dispensation, Father Hurley was, on account of his rapid advancement in learning and development of character, ordained at the age of twenty-two years and ten months on June 29, 1877, by Bishop Fink of Leavenworth.

"The young priest's first parish was in Paola, Kas., of which place he was pastor for six years, being transferred to Junction City in 1883.

"Father Hurley is a man of frank and pleasing address; dignified, yet without austerity in his official capacity, and his sermons show a depth of thought and power of expression seldom found. A constant victim to ill health, his manifold duties demanded all of his time and strength, leaving none for social relaxation, yet he is a general favorite among all kinds and classes of people with whom he is thrown in contact. None may address Father Hurley without feeling sure of a response in which ready wit mingles with good sense and kindly humor. He has now been pastor of the Catholic Church of our city for thirteen years, and a glance at the relative condition existing now and as in 1883 show that something more than the mere increase of population must be recognized in accounting for the present satisfactory condition in the affairs of the church in this place. This something--under Divine blessing--is the rare financial ability, the good common business sense displayed during these trying times by Father Hurley.

"During his stay in Paola, a mission which included all of Miami and Linn counties, and part of Johnson, entailing almost constant traveling, the greater part of his time being spent in the saddle, Father Hurley built in that place a $13,000 church. His first undertaking on coming here was the erection of a handsome church in Chapman, the old church there being utterly unfit for use, while the one in Junction City might be made to do service for a few years longer. But the necessity for a new parsonage here was urgent, and this was his next enterprise, the result of which is in evidence today, as one of the most beautiful residences and decidedly the best parsonage in Junction City.

"It is an oft-reiterated saying of Father Hurley's, 'If you allow the children to stray from the fold you will soon have no need for the church,' in view of which maxim he organized a parochial school in which the little ones are prepared by a thorough drill in the truths of Christianity for the sacrament of confirmation, the ordinary school studies being at the same time carried on, so that a class from this school, in each succeeding year, takes creditable rank in the higher grades of our public schools.

"This is the time in which careful, economical and conservative leadership is doubly essential on every hand, and above all in church matters, that the word of God may not be scandalized by disgraceful broils and complications, and Father Hurley has managed the affairs of his church so successfully, while at the same time increasing the congregation and uniting it closer together, that when the new church--that objective point towards which we are now hopefully looking and voluntary contributions are accumulating--is projected there will not be, as indeed there is not now, a single debt to hamper this much-needed enterprise, and it is the hope and prayer of the congregation that Father Hurley may be spared to this church for many a year after the faintest tracery in the carving of its highest pinnacle has been completed."


Delivered in the Cathedral, Leavenworth, Kansas, Over the Remains of
By Rev. T. H. Kinsella, September 9, 1903.

"Behold a great priest who in his days pleased God, and was found just." Eccl. 44.

Love and duty summon us before this altar today, my brethren. We owe it to ourselves to love all that is good and beautiful in nature. We owe it to our city to honor her sons in whatever avocation they have gained renown; and we owe it to our holy mother, the Church, to honor those who have "fought the good fight, who have finished their course, and who have kept the faith in the blessed hope of obtaining the crown which the Lord, the Just Judge has laid up for them in heaven."

This occasion is, indeed, one of deep sorrow. Our hearts go out in sympathy to the friends and relatives of him whose remains now lie before us. It is but natural that you should weep, dear friends, for one so good in every sense, so beautiful in character, so noble in purpose, so humble, gentle, kind. Yet, grief alone rules not this scene; love and duty holds a place. Leavenworth, like a mother, takes this child once more to her bosom. She is proud of her sons, they have exalted her name in all the land, for they have won distinction in every walk, and have adorned every profession. Like the noble matron of old, she bids her sons to conflict, and commands "that they return not except with their shields or upon their shields."

Like the true soldier that he was, Father Hurley is carried back today on his shield of victory, crowned with the fadeless laurels of a well spent life.

The first native priest to venture into the mission field of Kansas, he bravely entered the conflict, and, after twenty-six years of toil and suffering, he in now borne back to his native city, to the very spot where he enlisted as a soldier of Jesus Christ, and where he received his commission to "go forth and preach the gospel to every creature." Father Hurley was a modest and retiring man; zeal and prudence ruled all his actions, and his sunny disposition as well as his natural goodness of heart made him loved and respected by all.

For twenty-one years he was pastor at Junction City, and was appointed dean of that district. On one occasion while walking with him through the streets of the town, I was forced to take notice of the universal respect shown him by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. I am not astonished to know, therefore, that Junction City went into mourning on this, their sad bereavement, and that all stores are closed and the flag hung at half mast over its city hall.

It was, of course, to his own people of the parish of Junction City that Father Hurley was all in all. As years passed on he sought to reproduce in the children of his flock what he himself had been in childhood, and it was his constant endeavor to plant in the homes of the people that faith and piety which he had imbibed from a good mother in his humble home in Leavenworth.

Born of parents who brought from Ireland the old time spirit of Faith, and raised in a home that has given two of its sons to the priesthood, as also a daughter to the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul, nothing less could be expected of him.

My brethren, how great is the blessing of a good Christian home! Little did you think, O good and gentle woman, that, in caring for the spiritual welfare of your children, your influence would, one day, be carried into the homes of others, into the lives of many, and down into the hearts and souls of thousands yet unborn. To you, and such as you, we owe every best gift that cometh down from the Father of lights through the hands of the priest. Without wealth, or power, or learning you have thus enriched many through the tireless hands of Charity. You have lifted the fallen, you have taught the ignorant, you have comforted the sorrowing, you have visited the sick, and you have prayed for the living and the dead through the ministry of the priesthood with which God rewarded your care.

To build up true Christian homes in this new land is of more lasting importance than the building of fine churches. Farther Hurley knew this well, and therefore, he left nothing undone to revive and preserve the spirit of prayer and piety in the homes of people entrusted to his care.

He established the League of the Holy Family in his parish, and was one of the few who made it a success. To it he attributed great results, and always looked upon the devotion as a special blessing to his people. Let this then be his monument. Let the people of that parish preserve the League in memory of its founder, and God will bless them and their children for generations yet to come.

As a priest amongst priests, Father Hurley was indeed a model. During all his years in the sacred ministry he never forfeited the good will of Bishop Fink--a very unusual thing, for our venerable Bishop is a strict disciplinarian who never fails to give honor to whom honor is due, nor reproof when reproof is merited. Not less harmonious were his relations with the Bishop of Concordia. Esteemed by all, he exemplified in his life the sublime dignity of the priesthood. He was ever mindful of its awful responsibilities, for he felt that the priest was "placed for the rise or fall of many in Israel." That he yielded a power which, in its use ascended on high and besieged the very citadel of God's mercy; or, in its abuse, descended to the depths of hell--a power that builds up into sanctification, or shatters to destruction the very kingdom of God in the souls of men. He knew that he was mighty for good, or terrible for evil. He knew that as a priest he could become the brightest light in the direst darkness, or the darkest cloud athwart the face of heaven. By such as he, were nations blessed--were peoples cursed, and such as he have made or marred the civilization of the ages. O priest of God, how great are thy responsibilities! How terrible will be thy judgments!

Wonder not, then, my dearly beloved brethren, that the Catholic heart is stirred to its very depths when a priest is called to God to render an account of his stewardship. Our interests in eternity are at one with his, for our souls will be required at his hands.

Be mindful, therefore, of your Christian duty towards your priests; pray for them while living, pray for them when dead, that God may give them grace, and mercy, and pardon, and peace eternal.

It is true, that poor Father Hurley suffered his purgatory while here on earth. With Christ he was nailed to the cross. For many years his hands and feet were, in a manner, racked and torn by cruel pain, and his heart, at last, was pierced by a pang that wrought his deliverance from this body of death.

Fortified by grace of the sacraments, and consoled by the blessings of the Church he died in the arms of her who taught him how to live and how to die. He passed from friends on earth to friends in heaven--to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, whom he had loved and served all the days of his life.

Be consoled the, O Christian friends. And you, venerable Mother, lift up your heart to the Lord; you have lived to see the harvest of your labors gathered into the eternal barn. 'Twas this you sought--for this you prayed. Rejoice, then, that God has taken him from Earth to Heaven. There he will await you as on earth he often sought you face, or listened for your footfalls, or longed for your coming. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine; et lux perpetua lucet ei. Amen.


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