ND's Football Priests

Jan 07, 2017

As most of you know, I have been researching early (1887-1917) Notre Dame Football.  One of the tangents which has kept me from wrapping up what started as a modest project has been studying the post-ND lives and careers of the 370 players who were in the 200 games of this period.

Most ND men know that Fr. Stephen Badin was the first Catholic Priest ordained in America (1793).  For well into the latter half of the 19th century, most Priests in America were imported from Europe.  For that reason, it was important that Catholic Colleges like Notre Dame be a source for badly needed clerics.  Several of Notre Dame’s earliest football players became outstanding Priests.

Patrick J. Crawley was a one-game substitute end, in 1892.  He was born in County Roscommon, IRELAND.  He attended Notre Dame, 1890-1894.  After ND, he received his training for the priesthood at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, in Cincinnati.  He served as a Parish Priest and Pastor in Lebanon and Marion, IN and Helena, MT, where he served more than 20 years.  Because of ill health, he retired and moved to live with his sister in Rhode Island for the four years before his 1938 death.  He was washed to sea and drowned when “The Great New England Hurricane”, the most severe storm in New England history, swept his car off the highway and into a reservoir.  Waves from this storm reached a height of 50 feet in Gloucester, MA, hometown of your humble scribe.

John Francis Farley, was nicknamed “Tiger Lily” during his student days.  He was one of Notre Dame's first great three-sport athletes, starring in baseball and football and also running track.  He was at ND, 1897-1903.  Farley ranks sixth in total scoring for all ND players during our first 30 years of football.  His 25 TD’s ranks fourth.  He came from one of Paterson, New Jersey's pioneer families.  In his hometown, he played on the highly regarded Entre Nous Football Team.  After seeing ND’s ad in “Catholic World”, he wrote a letter expressing his desire to become a Priest and requesting a catalogue of courses.  He was ordained a C.S.C. Priest, in 1907.  Shortly after his ordination, he briefly worked as Manager of Athletics at our sister college, Columbia University (now the University of Portland).  Back at Notre Dame, he coached the interhall teams of Corby (1907-1914), Walsh (1914-1920) and Sorin (1930-1937), while serving as a legendary rector of each hall.  During this time, he acquired the nickname “Pop”.  Comedian/Actor Joe E. Brown was the toastmaster at the December, 12, 1938 Football Banquet, during which Fr. Farley was presented a Monogram sweater.  Barely a month later, Fr. Hugh O’Donnell, his football teammate and C.S.C. colleague, celebrated Pop's requiem mass.  Fr. Farley is the only CSC Priest honored with a dorm named after him for his service as a Rector.

John J. Kearns was born in Galway, Ireland.  He was at ND, 1888-1893.  He was a halfback sub in the same 1892 game, vs. Hillsdale College, as was Pat Crawley.  The SCHOLASTIC reported on Kearns' abilities as an actor, portraying Richard III: “…Mr. John Kearns surprised even his most sanguine friends. The part was given with the power and skill that made it a matter of regret that Richard should have killed so grand an actor so early in the play.”  

During Commencement of 1892, he was awarded a “First Honor Gold Medal” for having attained a 90% or above average for scholarship and deportment for the school year.  He won a March, 1893 military drill competition.  

Kearns penned a wonderful poem, in April, 1893, during the time of the Chicago Columbian Exposition:

Fin de Siecle (French term, referring to the end of the century and beginning of new era)

 

STRANGE is the change that we see!

Each year of the century brings,

A promise of hope and of glee,

While each bell in sweet merriment rings.

Ah! glorious, indeed, are the things

That we see on American ground.

Where no record is kept of old kings.

In the land that Columbus has found.

It's the land of the brave and the free; Where the bird of fair Liberty sings.

And its people are happy to be

Under the shade of his wings.

With pride and with pleasure he flings

His glance as the great world goes round.

And respect with fidelity clings

To the land that Columbus has found.

Our emblems—the hive and the bee!

The sound of our industry rings

All over the land and the sea.

Here life all its best perfume flings;

Here love all her best treasures brings.

By no tyrant's word are we bound.

For the flag of equality swings

In the land that Columbus has found.

Chicago, come play on your strings.

And tell to the earth, by their sound.

That everything beautiful springs

From the land that Columbus has found.

The February 1894 SCHOLASTIC reported: “—The many friends of Mr. John Kearns will be pleased to learn of his success in the recent examinations at Mt. St. Mary's, of Emmitsburg, MD.  He ranks among the first in a class of eighty four”.  He completed his seminary studies, in 1898.  

In a 1923 ALUMNUS note: “REV. John J. KEARNS, old student, celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on the 7th of October.”  He was the Pastor and Monsignor of St. Theodore's Church, in Evanston.  He died in the rectory of this church that he founded and named after his older sister, the nun who was responsible for his tuition at Notre Dame.  Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago, celebrated the funeral mass.  Cardinal Stritch was an uncle of Thomas J. Stritch, a Notre Dame faculty legend, who was the Chairman of the Notre Dame Communication Arts Department which miraculously graduated me in 1966. 

Michael Lee Moriarty came to ND from Ashtabula, Ohio.  He as at ND, 1906-1910, earning his Bachelors in Literature.  He was a six-game player at halfback and end, in 1908-1909.  He served as Junior Class President.  He was a member of the Shakespearean Association.  He delivered one of three Commencement Orations, on “Predatory Wealth”.  The jut-jawed versatile athlete was a weight man on the Notre Dame Track Team and Captain of the Cross-country club.  In later years, he was the 1910 Class Secretary.  He was ordained as a Priest in the Cleveland Diocese, in 1915, after studies at St. Bernard’s Seminary (Rochester, NY) and St. Mary’s Seminary (Cleveland, OH).  Fr. Moriarty was President of Cathedral Latin High School and served on the Board of Directors, Notre Dame Alumni Association.  He was also an active member of dozens of local and state social welfare organizations.  He was Pastor of St. Catherine's Church, Cleveland.  His chalice was presented to Sacred Heart Church after his passing.  

John Hugh "Pepper" O’Donnell came to Notre Dame from Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He was at ND, 1912-1916, receiving a Bachelors in Literature.  He was a one-game sub quarterback, versus Case Institute of Technology, in 1916.  He was the Director of the Glee Club and  Senior Class President.  He was the first President of Notre Dame Monogram Club (1916).  He was ordained as a CSC Priest, in 1921.  He received a Doctor of Philosophy Degree, with a specialty in American Church History, from Catholic University, in 1929.  Among his Notre Dame duties were Badin Hall Rector and Prefect of Discipline.  He served as President of St. Edward’s College, of Austin, Texas, 1931-34.  Returning to Notre Dame, he served as Vice President, 1934-1940 and President, 1940-1946.  Fr. Theodore Hesburgh was the Master of Ceremonies at Fr. O’Donnell’s 1947 funeral. 

Dominick Kern O’Malley came to Notre Dame from Waunakee, Wisconsin.  He was at ND, 1899-1903, receiving his Bachelors in Literature.  During the 1900-1902 seasons, the 5'11, 185 pound O'Malley played in 31 games, starting 25, as a guard.  In 19 of those games, he never left the field.  He scored three TD’s from his guard position.  Plays designed for linemen carrying the ball were common in those early days.  When ND first introduced strength and conditioning training, Dom was one of the strongest men on campus.  The SCHOLASTIC reported, in March 1901:  “Dominick O'Malley has broken the strength-test record held by Big John (Eggeman).  He has made an aggregate of 1086 kilogrammes.  

Dom was Ordained as a CSC Priest, in 1908.  He was an Instructor in Prep School* English and Latin (*Notre Dame had a Prep program from its founding through WWI).  Dom was President of Sacred Heart University, of Watertown, Wisconsin, from 1909-1922.  When this college was founded, its literature described it as a "branch of the University of Notre Dame.  Back at ND, Dom became Rector of Sorin and Corby, while also serving as Professor of Religion, from 1924 thrugh his passing, in 1933.  

Michael Aloysius Quinlan came to Notre Dame from Rockford, Illinois.  He was at ND, 1886-1893, receiving a Bachelors and later a Masters, in 1897.  He won the “baseball throw” (369’ 20”) at the 1894 Spring “Field Day”.  He was the Secretary of the Alumni Association (1908-1909).  After his ordination as a C.S.C. Priest, he served as an English and Mathematics Professor, Rector, and Prefect of Discipline.  He also was an administrator as St. Edwards College,  of Austin, Texas.  Fr. Quinlan was the second President of Columbia University (now the University of Portland), 1902-1906.  The first new college building he created was an indoor track.  From 1915 onward, he is listed in University records as holding a PhD.  During WWI, he served as a “Special Registrar” to handle draft registrations for ND students.  He co-wrote the “Notre Dame Athletic Record” (covering all sports through 1929), which has been heavily used in this research.  In 1920, he published an article, "Poetic Justice in the Drama”.  The notice of his death in the ALUMNUS included the following: “As hall rector, prefect of discipline, and teacher, Father Quinlan was of the old school of stern but respected counselors, who knew his boys, a friend to whom many of them turned in later years for continuing advice".  

While doing this research I learned a lot about the way Notre Dame was run in its earliest days.  We were created on the same order as the boarding schools in France and England that Fr. Sorin would have been familiar with.  For our first 7 decades, we enrolled students from elementary school through University-level courses.  It is not possible to overstate the great work of the CSC Priests and Brothers in those early days.  They worked every job on campus, receiving no pay for their service.  The students received instruction in all life aspects, on a continual basis.  For example, they were required to write letters home and those letters were proof read for grammar and spelling by the University Administrators.

We had many students who were immigrants and a very high percentage who were first generation American.  Despite coming from humble backgrounds, many of these students later achieved fame and fortune.

Go Irish!


Other news