Father Ernest Cunningham, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1895-1968)

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Born on October 27, 1895 in Boston, Massachusetts he was the son of John J. Cunningham and Mary Owens. As a young man Father Cunningham drove a taxi cab. He attended Boston College High School and graduated in 1914. He then spent two years at Boston College. In 1917 he entered the Passionist novitiate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On September 17, 1918 he professed his Passionist vows and was ordained a priest in Pittsburgh on October 28, 1923. As a Passionist student he was very interested in the Chinese missions and seven months after ordination was sent to China. At that time missionaries were sent to China for life. He was a pastor in China and also was taken prisoner by Chinese bandits. In 1949 he returned to the United States when the Communists gained control of China. He was stationed at St. Gabriel’s Monastery, Brighton, Massachusetts. In 1950 Father Cunningham was appointed chaplain of the Hudson County Institutions in Seacacus, New Jersey which was known as Snake Hill. This consisted of a Pest House, a Tubercular Hospital, a home for the poor, and a county jail. He lived there as a chaplain since the facility was like a city in itself. After cataract surgery he developed cancer and in 1965 he had to cease that ministry. He returned to St. Gabriel’s, Brighton where he remained until his death.

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