THOMAS U. TRACYó 1868-1876
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
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
1868, he returned to the diocese of Erie and was appointed pastor of Saint
Michaelís Church, Greenville, Pa.
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
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.
Thomas U. Tracy, pastor 1868 - 1876
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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