Father Peter Hanley, C.P., Holy Cross Province (1854-1944)

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Born Peter Hanley in County Roscommon, Ireland on July 7, 1854 he was the son of Peter and Mary Hanley. Eventually his family moved to the United States and it appears, settled in Rhode Island. In time he applied and was accepted into the Passionist novitiate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After a ten day retreat he was allowed to begin his novitiate and professed his vows on September 25, 1874. He was allowed to keep his family name. On May 23, 1880 he was ordained a priest. Early on he did preaching of parish missions and had more of an instructional tone with an ability to allow listeners to understand the sufferings of Jesus. When the Passionist preparatory school was begun at St. Mary’s Dunkirk, New York Father Boniface Sotter, C.P. was named the director. However, he held the office only for a short time and Father Hanley followed him in the position which he held for two years and two months. At that time vocations were not numerous, but during this period he was able to send twenty-six boys to the Pittsburgh novitiate. Later, when Holy Cross province established their own preparatory school Father Hanley was called upon to be the director. When the Passionists established their foundation in Normandy, Missouri Father Hanley, in 1890, was selected to be the first canonical superior. At the 1893 provincial chapter he was re-elected as superior. In 1896 he was made superior of St. Paul, Kansas. Upon completion of his term there he was able to travel to Rome. where he met Pope Leo XII and then had to undergo surgery which was performed by the personal physician of the Pope. When Father Hanley came back to the United States he took pastoral responsibility of Holy Cross Parish, Mt. Adams, Cincinnati, Ohio for three years. From there he again returned to St. Paul, Kansas where he was pastor of St. Francis Church. However, a call came from Bishop Paul J. Nussbaum, C.P. who had been appointed the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas. Subsequently Father Hanley was assigned to St. Joseph’s Parish, Beeville, Texas and he remained there for six years. In 1923 Father Hanley was chosen to initiate the Passionist foundation in the Los Angeles area. He became superior of Sierra Madre from 1923 to 1927 and was instrumental in starting the laymen’s retreat movement. Upon completion of this assignment he was sent as Chaplain of the Hinese Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois where he ministered for thirteen years. When he made the rounds he had the habit of calling any men he met Joe and any women he met Mary. His diamond jubilee was held in Chicago and also in Providence and Central Falls, Rhode Island. Later he retired to Sierra Madre and lived in St. Rita’s Rectory before, his health declining, led him to move to Detroit in the spring of 1943.