by ehistoryadmin on January 30, 2019

Leinster Leader 1 July 1922

Death of Distinguished Carmelite

Kildare Priest’s Career

Pioneer of the Order in New York

The following appeared in a New York publication dated May 20th:-

The Very Rev. Edward P. Southwell, one of the pioneers of the Irish Carmelite Fathers in this city, who was the founder and for nearly a quarter of a century prior of the Church of Our Lady of the Scapular of Mount Carmel in East Twenty-eight street, died on Wednesday night, May 10 at St. Vincent’s Hospital, in this city, after a short illness. Fr. Southwell was 82 years of age and his death came from the infirmities of his years. Six years ago, following the close of his term as provincial of his order in this country, Fr. Southwell became prior of the Church of the Transfiguration, at Tarrytown, which was established under his direction just a quarter of a century ago. He remained as prior at Tarrytown until his death.

Native of Kildare, Ireland

Fr. Southwell was born in County Kildare, Ireland, in 1840, and at an early age joined the Carmelite Order in Dublin. After his ordination in 1865 he began his educational and missionary career in his native country, holding important positions in Kinsale, Co. Cork, and president of Terenure College, Dublin.

Fr. Southwell was one of four Irish Carmelites who were sent from Dublin to New York in 1889 to take charge of Bellevue Hospital and to establish a parish in the Bellevue district, to be formed from a part of St. Stephen’s parish. Father Southwell was the first prior of the little community and he remained its prior for 21 years. On Palm Sunday of that same year the Church of Our Lady of the Scapular was opened for service.

Few people today realise the hardships that confronted the little community of Irish Carmelites in their work in this city. There was a continual drain of men and resources. Other priests came to augment the community but within a few years three of the Religious died and several had to retire to their home country, broken by the labours undergone in the new country. The nature of the life encountered in New York with the care of the great hospital was radically different from the usual life of a Carmelite, devoted to solitude and study.

Opened School in 1905

A kindly, gentle, humble, cultured man, Father Southwell laboured long and zealously in these strange and busy surroundings to establish the parish of the Irish Carmelite Fathers on a sound basis. In this he was successful. He knew well the value of a sound Christian education, and he devoted several years in arranging for the erection of a parochial school. In 1905, he had the great satisfaction of opening one of the finest parish schools in New York, a building that is a monument to his devotion to the children and his zeal for Catholic education.

Under the administrative genius of Father Southwell the sphere of activity of his community was gradually enlarged. The Carmelite missionary band, a body of earnest, eloquent preachers, gave missions in this and many other dioceses and Carmelite parishes were established at Tarrytown (1896), and at Middletown (1912). Carmelite Fathers are also chaplains at the tuberculosis sanatorium at Otisville and the State Asylum at Middletown.

Father Southwell celebrated the golden jubilee or fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the holy priesthood on June 6, 1915, with a Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving which was attended by the late Bishop Cusack and many prominent priests of the Archdiocese. Pope Benedict XV sent his Apostolic Blessing.

The Funeral Services

The body of Fr. Southwell was taken from St. Vincent’s Hospital to the Carmelite Church in East Twenty-eighth Street on Thursday, May 11, and on Saturday a Solemn High Mass of Requiem was celebrated in the presence of his Grace the Most Rev. Archbishop Hayes and a large number of Monsignori and priests. The church was not large enough to hold all who wished to attend the obsequies of the venerable Carmelite, whom the people of the parish of Our Lady of the Scapular loved as a father and revered as a faithful and devoted priest. The little children of the school were present, each with a band of mourning and the Catholic nurses came over from Bellevue to show their grief at the passing of a true friend of the poor, the sick and the suffering.

The celebrant of the Mass was the Very Rev. Denis F. O’Connor, O.C.C., the provincial; the Rev. Lawrence Flanagan, O.C.C., was deacon, and the Rev. Chr. A. Slattery, O.C.C., sub-deacon. The deacons of honour to the Archbishop were the Right Rev. Monsignor Sheehan of Poughkeepsie, and the Right Rev. Monsignor Bruder of St. Joseph’s. Monsignor Livingston was assistant priest. The Right Rev. Monsignor Wm. Livingston, who as pastor of the adjoining parish of St. Gabriel’s, was for many years a close friend of Father Southwell, delivered the eulogy, which was an eloquent tribute to the character of the late Carmelite and the work he had accomplished during the 57 years of his priesthood.

The Archbishop officiated at the final absolution. The burial was in Calvary Cemetery where the Carmelite Fathers have a burial plot. Fr. O’Connor and many of the other Carmelites and secular priests accompanied the body to its last resting place and recited the prayers at the grave.

Fr. Southwell was born in Claregate Street, Kildare, in 1840. He was uncle to the late John Ronane, B.L., and the Very Rev. John Ronane, of the Irish College, Rome, and also of Mr. James Murphy, Bishopsland House, Kildare. The family has very old associations with Kildare and has always been held in high esteem.




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