Father Angelo Hamilton, C.P., Holy Cross Province (1894-1961)

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Born John Hamilton, on September 26, 1894 in Epworth, Iowa, he was the son of John Hamilton and Mary McCarthy. His family called him Jay. At seventeen he entered the Passionist Preparatory Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1912 he went to the novitiate in Louisville, Kentucky. On September 15, 1913 he pronounced his Passionist vows and received the name Angelo. Studies for priesthood were conducted at St. Paul’s, Kansas and Chicago, Illinois. He was ordained on August 14, 1921 in the Chicago Cathedral. He ministered in Des Moines, Iowa and St. Paul, Kansas as a preacher and in 1927 was assigned to Sierra Madre, California. He spent his entire ministry there except for two years as the retreat master in Detroit, Michigan and Cincinnati. Among the retreatants at Sierra Madre he was a popular story teller and constantly had a cigar in his mouth. Stories are told that he was an avid White Sox fan and got so excited that he could not listen to the radio. He was also a staunch Democrat and loved the state of California. When Father Hamilton came to Sierra Madre in 1927 he arrived at the Mount Oliva area and lived in a small farmhouse where the community totaled four priests, one convelescing student from the eastern province and a Passionist brother. He and Father Edmund Walsh, C.P. were critical to the beginning of the Sierra Madre Retreat movement. By 1960 estimates were that 70,000 men had made retreats there and 13,000 from 1934 until 1945 when Father Hamilton was the director. The early days of the retreat movement had to endure poor accomodations at the height of the Depression. In 1945 Father Hamilton moved to Sacramento, California and spent five years laying the ground work for the retreat ministry at Citrus Heights. During that time three priests lived in a house on Sacramento Boulevard. He eventually became the first director of the retreat house there. In his later years he came down with cancer.