The City of Our Founder

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by Roger Mercurio, C.P.

During this tricentennial of the birth of St. Paul of the Cross, we are rejoicing that so many churches, monasteries, convents, schools, parishes, and retreat houses have been named in his honor.

In the United States the original province glories in the name: Province of St. Paul of the Cross. But unfortunately we have forgotten that there is in the United States a small city in southeast Kansas bearing the name of St. Paul!

This is the story gathered from the Holy Cross Province Archives. In 1894 when the Passionists took possession of the parish of St. Francis Hieronymo, the town was known as Osage Mission. It had been established by Jesuit missionaries to minister to Osage Indians then living in that area. The Osage Indians in 1870 left Kansas to find a new home in the recently established Indian Territory (now the state of Oklahoma) while settlers who began to build homes in the neighborhood continued to call their town Osage Mission. The Jesuits left the parish in 1892. The diocese sent a priest to minister to the settlers. In 1893 the Passionists were offered the church and property for a new foundation.

In the St. Paul of the Cross Province Archives there is a very interesting manuscript of over one hundred pages on the Osage Mission, Kansas:

May 28, 1894 John [Baptist Baudinelli], C.P. Provincial authorized Father Hugh [Barr, C.P.] to go to the Osage Mission “to gather all the information you can about this place and its early history.” (entire letter on p 1) Hugh Barr stayed there September 8 to October 22, 1894. (p 3).

He describes the church and monastery in detail—the water supply, the stone college, guest house, new parochial school, boiler house, servants house, ice house, carriage house, hen house, stable, gas supply. All this had been purchased from the diocese for one dollar!

After we were settled there the citizens of Osage Mission filed a petition asking that the name of Osage Mission be changed to St. Paul. An election was held on April 11, 1895, resulting in a vote of 179 for the change and 63 against. The district judge on the following day officially recorded the change of the name; and on May 23 the federal post office department in Washington notified the local postmaster that effective on July 1, 1895, the name of the post office would be, not Osage Mission, but St. Paul.

On July 4, 1895, (Independence Day) “a celebration under the auspices of the Catholic church was attended by an immense crowd. Father Nichols of Louisville, Kentucky, was the orator. (Annals of St. Paul, compiled by W.W. Graves, 1942.)

The Platea of the St. Francis Hieronymo Community related:

“Several attempts had formerly been made to change the name but without success. The majority was in favor of the change, but many also regretted the change as the name Osage Mission was historical and connected with former reminiscences of the missionary life of the Jesuits in this State.” (p 10)

Father Felix Ward in his book, The Passionists, wrote that the name St. Paul was chosen “in honor of St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists.” (p 384)

St. Paul, a city in Neosho County, state of Kansas, is probably the only city in the world named after our Holy Founder, St. Paul of the Cross.

June 14, 1994

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