St. Michael's Church, Greenville

St. Michael's Church




For the portrait and the bulk of the accompanying biography of Father Tracy we are indebted to the kindness of the Rev. Felix Fellner, O.S.B., Archivist of Saint Vincentís Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa. Father Thomas Urban Tracy was born in August, 1836 in Virginia County Cavan, Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland. He was ordained June 20 1858 and during that year became Secretary of the Most Rev. Bishop Josue Young of Erie. After 1864 he had charge of St. Francis Church, Clearfield Pa., and in 1867 he volunteered for the missions in Alabama. Saint Maryís church Huntsville, became his headquarters at this time. In 1868, he returned to the diocese of Erie and was appointed pastor of Saint Michaelís Church, Greenville, Pa. 

The record of the years of Father Tracyís labors in Greenville is indeed meagre. Unfortunately too, our oldest living parishioners were mere children when he left here to become a member of the Order of Saint Benedict, and they can remember little more than his kindly countenance. We do know of course, that it was during Father Tracyís pastorate that an extension as well as a gallery, belfry and bell were added to the original church. The cemetery was dedicated in the same (1869) year. Credit too must be given to Father Tracy for organizing a Catholic congregation in Jamestown and for building St. Bridgetís church there in 1874. He served St. Bridgetís congregation as a mission from St. Michaelís until his departure in 1876.

In the latter year, Father Tracy felt himself called by Divine Grace to the monastic life, and accordingly he made application at St. Vincentís Abbey to be accepted as a member of the Order of Saint Benedict.  


Father Thomas U. Tracy, pastor 1868 - 1876  


He was canonically received as a novice on August 23, 1876, and made his first vows on August 24, 1877. Abbot Boniface Wimmer assigned him first to Sacred Heart church, Saint Maryís, Elk County, and then to Saint Malachyís Priory, Creston, Iowa, to assist in its missions. Here, the Very Rev. Eugene Phelan, Prior, as delegate of the Abbot of St. Vincentís, received his solemn vows, October 19, 1880. During the next years he became attached to St. Benedictís Abbey in Kansas. In 1885 he was transferred to the Priory of St. Josephís, Covington, Kentucky, and in the following year he returned to Alabama, his canonical home for the rest of his life. He was first stationed in Tuscumbia and in 1887 succeeded the Rev. Benedict Menges, (who later be came the first Abbot of St. Bernardís, Alabama) as pastor of Huntsville. Here he joined the new Abbey in 1892 and in 1895 was appointed professor of Saint Bernardís College. He continued in this post until 1900, at which time he assisted in the founding of a new Benedictine monastery at Gessen, Louisiana. From 1903 to 1909 he acted as chaplain of the hospitals at Birmingham and Montgomery. At the age of seventy-three after having labored zealously for fifty-one years as secretary to Bishop Young, parish priest, and active Benedictine missionary, he retired to spend his last years in more complete contemplation with his confreres at Saint Bernardís Abbey, Culman, Alabama. He died on June 13, 1915.  


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