Father Justin Carey, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1868-1947)

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Born Peter Carey on September 27, 1868 in West Hurley, a suburb of Kingston, New York. He was the son of John Carey and Mary Larkin. Educated in the local schools he then went to the boy’s academy in Watertown, New York. When he was sixteen he entered the Passionist novitiate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and professed his vows on January 6, 1886 receiving the religious name Justin. His student life was spent at St. Michael’s Monastery, West Hoboken, New Jersey and he was ordained by Bishop Michael Wigger of Newark, New Jersey on December 17, 1892. Father Carey was assigned to the Passionist community in St. Louis, Missouri where he was director and professor for a small class of Passionist students. When the Passionists opened up the mission at St. Paul, Kansas he was one of the first missioners assigned there and began to give missions and retreats. He was then appointed vice rector of St. Louis then rector of St. Paul’s Monastery, Pittsburgh. When the fiftieth anniversary of the province was celebrated Father Carey had Superior General Bernard Mary Silvestrelli, Cardinal Gibbons and other religious dignitaries present in Pittsburgh.

At the provincial chapter of 1903 Father Carey was elected rector of St. Michael’s, West Hoboken. Then Provincial Stephen Kealy died suddenly on July 17, 1903. Since there was no more room to bury Passionists in the monastery crypt Father Carey obtained permission from the civil authorities to have a cemetery on the Passionist property where Father Kealy was buried. In the 1905 provincial chapter Father Carey was elected first provincial consultor and went to live in Louisville, Kentucky as superior and to supervise the completion of the new monastery. So successful was he that he was considered the guardian for any new monasteries to be built. When Holy Cross Province was established in 1906 Father Carey returned to West Hoboken. In 1907 Father Cary accompanied Provincial Father Fidelis Kent Stone to Boston, Massachusetts to select a site for the new Passionist monastery. Father George the second consultor was summoned and it appeared that the monastery would soon be built at a site on Jamaica Plain, Boston. However real estate agent John Kiley begged the group to consider one more location. Indications are that the provincial and second consultor were too tired to make the trip but Father Carey went to examine the Nevins Estate at the end of Corey Hill, Brighton, Massachusetts. Thinking the site to be ideal he suggested the location to which the others agreed and the local bishop agreed to as well. In April 1908 the St. Gabriel community was established. During the next chapter Father Carey was not elected to any office because he was asked to take charge of the building of the Brighton monastery where he was the local superior. On several occasions Cardinal O’Connell visited and the topic of a laymen’s retreat was broached. Finally St. Gabriel’s was completed and at the next chapter Father Carey was elected provincial consultor.

In 1914 Father Carey was sent to Rome to participate in the Thirtieth General Chapter which revised Passionist regulations. When he returned from Europe he was elected the rector of St. Joseph’s Monastery, Baltimore, Maryland. In 1917 Father Carey was elected provincial. This was a time of change. The new edition of the breviary had seen a revision of the Psalter. It had been in use for only a short time and this new structure meant that the Passionists were getting to dinner ten to fifteen minutes ahead of the usual time. Thus he changed the schedule for Sext and None from 11:30 AM to 11:45 AM except during the season of Lent. So in place of chanting Sext immediately after Tierce, it would be recited at the usual time with None and Vespers before dinner. At the same time the 1917 new code of Canon Law was promulgated. This led him to send Passionist priests to take advanced studies at The Catholic University, Washington, D.C., universities in Rome, and for advanced scripture courses in Palestine. At the same time the United States was at war and he permitted priests to be military chaplains. Later Pope Benedict XV provided the Archconfraternity of the Passion with many graced indulgences and Superior General Silvius wrote every province that this be promoted. In 1919 it was formally established at St.Michael’s, West Hoboken with a monthly meeting. This was also the time of the pneumonia. Many requests for missions had to be denied due to this epidemic. In addition Monsignor Demen, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Wilmington, North Carolina requested the Passionist’s assistance. Father Carey sent Father Alexis Cunneen to give a mission. This led to the chapel car and the eventual relationship of the Passionists with Bishop Hafey. This was also the beginning of the laymen’s retreats. Father Carey encouraged the building of the retreat house wing in Pittsburgh which was completed in 1920. This was the year of the canonization of St. Gabriel. At the 1920 Chapter Father Carey was re-elected as provincial. It was at this time that the mission to Hunan, China was accepted. The departure of the five priests and one brother took place on December 11, 1921 in West Hoboken. Another new venture was The Sign Magazine which would serve as a promotional organ of the Archconfraternity of the Passion, contain articles on the Sacred Passion and also serve as a fund raising source for the China missions.

Expansion continued. The property in West Springfield, Massachusetts was acquired for a new monastery and retreat house. Likewise the mission to Germany and Austria opened under the direction of Father Valentine Lehnerd and Victor Koch. They departed for the mission on April 25, 1922. On June 4, 1923 Cardinal Michael De Faulhabor, Archbishop of Munich, visited West Hoboken to thank Father Carey for sending the Passionists. Finally, Father Carey secured property for the monastery and retreat house at Jamaica, New York. At the 1923 chapter Father Carey was not elected to any office but was appointed to be the superior of West Springfield so as to supervise the building of the foundation. At the next chapter he was again elected provincial consultor and superior of Jamaica where he oversaw that project. Later he was again elected provincial for a third term. At that point he was asked to attend the Thirty-Second General Chapter in Rome. The term completed, he was elected first consultor. He resided in Union City and promoted devotion to St. Gabriel and it was at that time, 1934, that the monastery church was destroyed by fire. Later Father Carey served a superior of the Passionist communities at Toronto, Canada, Washington, D.C., and Chelsea, New York. However age was beginning to catch up with him and he returned to Union City on October 23, 1941. He celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood on November 3, 1942. Eventually he died in Union City after a fall in the monastery and a short illness.

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