The Passionists in St. Paul, Kansas
Father Joseph Van Leeuwen's funeral service on Saturday, April 1, will be a solemn, historic moment for St. Paul. Father Joe is the first Passionist priest to be buried in the church garden cemetery in nearly 45 years. His will also be the first burial since the Passionist Monastery closed in 1983.
The Passionists recognize St. Francis Catholic Church as an important part of their history. Osage Mission was among their earliest western locations as they began their expansion west of Missouri in the late 19th century. In keeping with the importance of Father's funeral and burial, we expect at least seven Passionist priests including their Provincial.
With the Passionist presence in St. Paul gone for thirty-four years, the local memory of their ninety-three year presence here has faded. Those who do remember the Passionist era know it was a glorious religious experience. We became accustomed to having many priests, brothers, and students; and Mass schedules that accommodated any possible need. And there was the Passionist choir--Oh My Goodness those young men could sing!
We had our own small slice of Rome here in St. Paul and we didn't realize it until it was gone.
The Passionist Presence:
During this week before Father Joe's funeral our "News" page is featuring two articles about the Passionist presence here in St. Paul. Follow these two links:
Part 1 — The Passionist Era Begins Amidst Promise, Doubt and Turmoil. A brief look at a tumultuous period when the Jesuit and Loretto Missionaries were departing, leaving our parish and town in uncertainty. The article also discusses the work of an early Passionist Historian who was sent to Osage Mission to record the work of their predecessors and take stock of local facilities.
Part 2 — The Passionist Influence is Expanded. An overview of the substantial commitment the Passionists made to St. Paul in terms of capital investment and in saving our church building. It also describes our community life in a monastery setting.
Some Reference Information:
 The last Passionist funeral and burial here was also a St. Paul man. George Ferdinand Madl was born in Eudora, Kansas in 1900 and moved to St. Paul with his family in 1906. He professed to the Passionists in 1918 and was ordained on February 1, 1925. Father "Ferd" celebrated his golden Jubilee on April 1, 1968 and passed away on June 5, 1972. His grave is on the south end of our garden's Passionist cemetery field.
 The two articles above are from the A Catholic Mission website (www.acatholicmission.org).
Lent Mini-Retreat—March 29 & 30
Parishioners from St. Francis, St. Ambrose and surrounding parishes are invited to attend two evenings of religious talks and confession services at St. Francis Catholic Church in St. Paul. This mini-retreat will include:
Please take this opportunity to step away from your day-to-day routine for a moment and reconnect with God in prayer and absolution.
Father Joe Van Leeuwen is Coming Home.
Father Joe Van Leeuwen, C.P., 81, passed away on February 28, at his home, the Passionist community in Kochi, India.
Norman Eugene Van Leeuwen was born on January 28, 1936 to Anthony "Tony" and Eugenia Van Leeuwen, St. Paul. On July 9, 1957 he professed to the Passionist Order. On May 23, 1964 he was ordained as Father Joseph Van Leeuwen in honor of the beloved Father Joseph Garland, a long-time pastor at St. Francis Parish.
Father Joseph served various states-side parish ministries during his career. In 1991 he offered to be among some Passionists, on a six month visa to work at a recently formed Passionist Mission in Southern India. In 1996 he was asked to return to India for about five years. He initially thought two years would be enough, but his missionary service to India became his life's work.
Funeral, Burial Services and Community Reception.
Father Joe's funeral will be at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 1st at St. Francis Catholic Church, St. Paul, Kansas. Burial will be in the Passionist Cemetery in the church gardens. Father's funeral services will be honored by a large number of visiting Passionist priests and a Knights of Columbus honor guard. All St. Francis and St. Ambrose parishioners are encouraged to attend both the funeral services and the community reception-luncheon at the St. Francis Parish Hall. The reception will begin immediately after the services.
Some More Information:
A Knight of the Holy See
In May of 1952 the Most Reverend Mark K. Carroll, Bishop of the of the Diocese of Wichita, made a trip to St. Paul on behalf of the Pope. He was here to convey one of the Catholic Church’s highest honors to a St. Paul resident and St. Francis parishioner.
William Whites Graves was born near Manton, Kentucky, on October 26, 1871. His birthplace was in an area similar to St. Paul, a settling spot for eastern Catholics during the 19th century . In 1881, his parents moved young Will and his siblings to a new Kansas community known for its strong Catholic roots and excellent educational opportunities—Osage Mission.
During the next ten years Graves mingled with the original Jesuit and Loretto missionaries, watched the completion of a large stone church and was educated in the Osage Mission schools. The Graves family was not affluent, and when the superior of the local Jesuit finishing college noticed the boy's intellect and spirit he offered free tuition. Graves seized the opportunity. He graduated from St. Francis Institute for Boys, with honors, in 1891. The experiences of his first ten years at Osage Mission likely played a defining role in the remainder of his life.
Graves described his success in life as a series of opportunities, and how he reacted to them. After completing his education, he had opportunities to work in his father’s store and to teach. He tried both, and then moved on. He wanted to be a printer or journalist. He entered journalism with a short stay at the Fort Scott Lantern; and then a two year assignment with the Pittsburg/Girard World newspapers. While working for the World he became a valued employee of it's editor Abe Steinberger. More importantly, he met Abe’s office manager, Emma Hopkins, and he married her on April 30, 1895.
After the World folded in late 1895, opportunity knocked again. With assistance from a local friend W. W. Graves bought the Osage Mission newspaper, then known as the Neosho County Journal. In 1902, another ‘knock’--and this was a large opportunity! He was asked to bid on starting and publishing a weekly newspaper for a well-respected national vigilance organization. In spite of woefully inadequate printing capacity he put together a compelling proposal and won.
Revenue from the Anti-Horse Thief Association Weekly contract helped Graves build the most modern publishing operation in southeast Kansas. In addition to the A.H.T.A. Weekly, he printed the Kansas Knights of Columbus newspaper and periodicals for other state and local customers. New contracts brought additional revenue and better capabilities.
Improved capacity fed his other passions. Graves loved history and he was a writer. He wrote countless publications and brochures for the A.H.T.A., our church and other organizations. But the work that propelled him to prominence was a series of books he published, or co-published, about the history of southern Kansas, prominent area Catholics and the role the Osage, Jesuits and Loretto’s played in the settlement of Kansas. Many were centered on the Catholic Osage Mission and its staff. In addition to his books, he submitted numerous papers to the Kansas State Historical Society; and he was a founding officer for both the Kansas Catholic Historical Society and an early Neosho County Historical Society.
Our Most Esteemed Citizen.
It was Graves’ life-long dedication to the Church and our history that brought Bishop Carroll to St. Paul on May 31, 1952. At an honors banquet in the school gymnasium, the Bishop was joined by the president of the Kansas State Historical Society, college presidents, local and state press executives, the Chief of the Osage Nation and a group of local friends, farmers and businessmen. Graves was showered with awards and accolades that evening, but one honor stands out:
The Bishop, on behalf of Pope Pius XII, presented W. W Graves with a scroll notifying him he had received the Vatican Knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory the Great . This special honor is bestowed upon Roman Catholic men and women in recognition of their personal service to the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church, It is the highest honor possible for a Catholic layperson. In Graves’ case the knighthood recognized his literary contributions to the Church.
On July 22, 1952, William Whites Graves collapsed and died of a heart attack at his home. The obituary on the front page of the St. Paul Journal started: “Death took this community’s most esteemed and honored citizen Tuesday evening.” There is no doubt that he was!
Some Reference Information:
 The Graves ancestors were among many Catholics who fled Maryland to Kentucky during the late 18th and early 19th centuries in search of religious freedom. By today’s travel standards, Manton is minutes from Nerinx, Kentucky, home of the Loretto Motherhouse. It is hard to imagine that Graves did not compare his birthplace with his new home of Osage Mission.
 The scroll and other Vatican documents are on file in the Osage Mission – Neosho County Museum (Graves – Hopkins Collection). The archive also contains the photo of Graves and the newspaper clipping used above.
 W. W. Graves' first wife Emma passed away on July 30, 1936. In October of 1941 he married Suzie Gibbons Graves.
 More information about W. W. Graves is available at: http://www.acatholicmission.org/w-w-graves.html
A Partial List of Graves' Books:
This is the community website for the St. Francis de Hieronymo and St. Ambrose Catholic Churches in Neosho County, Kansas. Both churches are located in the center of the historic nine-county southeast Kansas area. We share one of the richest Catholic Heritages in Southern Kansas and the Four-State Region. For more information about our churches, history, organizations or programs browse our site including its links.