Born Jeremiah Quinlan on June 28, 1884 in Valparaiso, Indiana, he was the son of John Quinlan and Honra Kennedy who both came to the United States from Ireland. In 1888 the family moved to Defiance, Ohio. Jeremiah’s older brother was a priest from 1888 until 1907. His father worked for the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and died in 1922. His mother died in 1916. Jeremiah was greatly influenced by his parish priest Father Michael Kincaid in Defiance, Ohio.
When Jeremiah was in his early twenties he went to the Passionist Preparatory Seminary, Dunkirk, New York. In 1906 the Passionists in the United States split into two provinces and Jeremiah commenced his novitiate at Sacred Heart Retreat, Louisville, Kentucky. He was the first religious vested in the new province of Holy Cross. On October 8, 1907 he professed his Passionist vows and received the name Alexis. His student life was in Chicago, Illinois and Normandy, Missouri. His director of students was Father Marcellus McCarthy. On June 13, 1913 he was ordained a priest by Bishop Paul Nussbaum, C.P. of Corpus Christi, Texas at St. Ann’s Church, Normandy. After Sacred Eloquence, the year of sermon preparation before preaching, Father Quinlan’s first assignments were with Father Alexander Kilgour, C.P. In 1920 Father Quinlan was sent to St. Paul, Kansas as pastor. In 1922 he was transferred to Immaculata Parish, Cincinnati, Ohio where he served until 1945. He was an Irish descendent in a predominantly German parish and sources indicate that some sense of harmony did develop. Father Quinlan, spoke German, preached in German, and heard confessions in German. The people called him Father Alexis von Quinlan.
The Provincial Chapter of 1944 established a policy of term of office that would be six years for pastors so in September 1945 a transfer took place. He moved to the Passionist monastery, Detroit, Michigan. He was a sought after confessor in Detroit at the Domican Sisters, Adrian, Michigan and also conducted retreats for religious. In 1953 he was transferred to Louisville where he resided until his death in 1967. During these years he did some outside retreat work, but most of his time was spent in the monastery as a man of prayer and hearing confessions. By 1963 he became senile. This was a cross for him and was witnessed by those with whom he lived.