Father Dominic Langenbacher, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1884-1939)

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Born Francis Langenbacher on January 9, 1884 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he was the son of Frederick Langenbacher and Mary Brust. He attended St. Michael’s Parish school which was under the care of the Sisters of St. Francis and later the Brothers of Mary. This was a Passionist parish. He entered the Passionists and professed his vows on January 16, 1900. His religious name was Dominic. As a student he possessed a very good memory. He was ordained on June 30, 1906. After ordination he was sent to Rome for higher studies in Sacred Theology. When his studies were completed he returned to the United States and became a professor of theology and was a director of students. He held that position for five years until his health made that no longer possible. In order to gain his strength he was assigned to be assistant pastor at St. Michael’s, Pittsburgh where he was respected as a confessor and instructor of Christian doctrine. After the provincial chapter of 1917 Father Langenbacher was elected rector of St. Michael’s Monastery, West Hoboken, New Jersey. He was re-elected to the same position at the 1920 chapter. It was at this time that the Passionists were offered to begin the China mission. At first he volunteered and was refused because good health was a prerequisite. When more volunteers were asked for then he was allowed to go. He left in October 1922 for China. He returned in 1926 for a short visit but remained in China until 1938, when broken in health, he came back to the United States. When he arrived in China he set out to learn the language. On July 26, 1925 he was named Prefect Apostolic of western Hunan when the mission territory was formally given over to the Passionists from the Spanish Augustinians. He was installed on November 26, 1925 with great pomp and circumstance. But the late 1920s brought warlord and bandit conflict to all of China and western Hunan was not immune. In 1927 many priests and sisters had to evacuate the interior. In 1928 he resigned his office as Prefect Apostolic.

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