Patrick J. Gallagher, O.S.A.

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1880 – 1919 (April 1)

Patrick Joseph Gallagher, son of John Gallagher and Mary Dorcey was born on April 4, 1880, in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland, and was baptized in Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church on April 14, 1880. In Ireland, he became a Brother of the Order of St. Francis, accepting the religious name “Conleth.” On July 26, 1902, he came to the United States and continued his vocation as a Franciscan, residing in St. Francis College, Loretto, Pennsylvania. On February 27, 1903, his petition to be released from vows was granted, and on September 8, 1904, he entered the novitiate of our province at Villanova, Pa. He professed first vows on September 9, 1905, and solemn vows on September 18, 1908. The following year he was assigned to the faculty of St. Rita High School, Chicago, Illinois. On May 21, 1910, Patrick was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop James E. Quigley, in the Cathedral of the Holy Name, Chicago. He offered his first Mass in the Convent of St. Agnes, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Father Gallagher was assigned to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, in Hoosick Falls, New York, and later to St. John the Baptist Church in Schaghticoke, N. Y. He served in the parish of St. Mary, Lawrence, Massachusetts before returning to St. Rita High School in Chicago. In 1918, during World War I, Father Gallagher was commissioned as a Knights of Columbus chaplain in the United States Army. He served in Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, and later in Bordeau, France.

On March 31, 1919, Father Gallagher, two soldiers and a chauffeur of the truck in which they were riding, were in a serious accident during a rain-hail storm, between Angouleme, where Father Gallagher was stationed, and Bordeaux, the Knights of Columbus Headquarters. The truck crashed into a tree killing one of the soldiers. The survivors were taken to the camp hospital at St. Andre de Cubzac. In a lengthy letter to Father Nicholas J. Vasey, O.S.A., Father Neil Cronin, chaplain, described the incident,  and praised Father Gallagher, saying “He died like a hero, and had a model priest’s death. He told me he gave absolution to all the injured parties. During the ride of 30 kilometers, he was never heard to refer to his pains, but frequently asked if the injured chauffeur was all right.” He did not lose consciousness at all, but asked the chaplain to notify his mother, who lived in the Bronx, New York, of the incident. 

A Solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated by the Knights of Columbus Chaplain, G. Haelterman, at the Cathedral of St. Andree in Bordeau. Fifteen chaplains were in attendance, in addition to military personnel, and city and state officials. The body of Father Gallagher was buried in the American section of the Cemetery at Talence, Bordeau. Three years later, his remains were transferred to County Mayo, Ireland, for burial which took place on May 27, 1922.