Michael T. Hurley, O.S.A.

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1780 – 1837 (May 14)

Michael Hurley was born in 1780, most probably in Ireland, and was the first aspirant for the new American Province. In 1797, he was sent to Rome by Father Matthew Carr for his religious and priestly training, and was ordained there in 1802. When he returned to the United States the following year, Father Hurley assisted Father Carr at Saint Augustine’s. Later he served as pastor of Saint Mary’s in Philadelphia. He became pastor of Saint Augustine’s, and the lone Augustinian in Philadelphia, after Father Carr’s death in 1820. Father Hurley, along with Fathers Carr, Rossiter, and others, was a member of the first board of the “Brothers of Hermits”, and later succeeded in having the charter amended. During the Yellow Fever Plague of 1805 and the Cholera Plague of 1832, Father Hurley’s administration, devotion and charity for the physical and spiritual needs of the victims earned him the praise of the medical profession.

Father Hurley was a personal friend of Mother Seton who praised him for his work in winning converts to the faith, particularly among the influential persons of that day. One of these converts was her own sister-in-law, Cecilia Seton. Mother Seton also granted Father Hurley’s request for sisters of her community to staff Saint Joseph’s Orphanage in Philadelphia. From 1822 to 1837, Father Hurley served as Vicar of the Augustinians in the American Province, succeeding Father Carr. He also served as Vicar-General during the last years of Bishop Conwell’s administration. And it was mainly through his efforts that the “Sister Bell” to the Liberty Bell became the property of the Augustinians. Father Hurley was also responsible for having a clause removed from the laws of the New York State constitution that Catholics considered offensive. Father Hurely was regarded as an outstanding orator, and he spoke on such occasions as the consecration of Bishop Marechal and the funeral of Bishop Egan. Father Middleton, the first Archivist of the Province, quotes these words from Jordan’s biographical sketch of Father Hurley in 1812: “He was the most outstanding pastor.” This title was bestowed on him because of the zeal he displayed in every phase of his priestly work. Father Hurely died on May 14, 1837 at the age of 57. He is buried in the vault at Saint Augustine’s in Philadelphia.