Fr. John Francis HICKEY
Please read the following:
To Helen Marie from Fr. Thomas (working late at my office! ):
The Archdiocese of Baltimore did not begin to have personnel forms on
priests until 1921. For this reason I have had to compile information from
various sources, of which there are very many. I have made a note, by the
way, to add John Francis Hickey to our necrology of priests in the next
edition of our local Catholic directory.
Edna Kanely's book indicates that the future priest was born on September
1789 and died on February 15 1869. She indicates that he was stationed at
St. Joseph Church in Emmitsburg (1818, 1825-41), at the Cathedral [now
Basilica, Shrine, and Co-Cathedral] of the Assumption (1843-48), at St.
Vincent de Paul Church in Baltimore (1849-55), at St. Peter the Apostle
Church in Baltimore (1856-64), and as chaplain at St. Agnes Hospital in
Baltimore (1865-1869), where he died. The information in her book is based
mainly on national Catholic directories, published annually and often out of
date by the time of printing. I have corrected Kanely's years of his
assignments when known from other presumably more accurate sources.
One source (Devitt's Clergy List of 1819) says that he was born in
Georgetown, D.C., but another source (Ruane's book on Sulpicians) says that
he was a native of Frederick in Maryland. Perhaps there is no contradiction
He began his studies for the priesthood on November 14 1805. He
St. Mary's College in Baltimore, then at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in
Emmitsburg, and then finally completed his studies at St. Mary's Seminary in
Baltimore. He was ordained by Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore, first
U. S. bishop, for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, on September 24 1814,
although one book (Ruane) after giving this date on one page later states
January 4 1815 [probably incorrectly] on another page. Several sources
indicate that he was the first priest to be ordained "from" Mount St. Mary's
Seminary in Emmitsburg, which I suppose is correct even though he
technically completed his studies at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore.
After ordination to the priesthood he was sent to teach at Mount St.
Seminary in Emmitsburg, then under the care of the Society of St. Sulpice,
commonly called Sulpicians, of which he became a member (Ruane). When Mount
St. Mary's Seminary separated from the Sulpicians, Hickey nevertheless
remained in Emmitsburg (Kauffman's book on Sulpicians). While in
Emmitsburg, he was even eventually appointed as the priest-superior of the
Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, the first religious order of women to be
established in the United States. Earlier he had worked with St. Elizabeth
Ann Seton, first American-born person to be canonized, who founded the
community of sisters there and who died at Emmitsburg in 1821.
His assignments prior to 1825 are difficult to pin down. He was
at St. Francis Xavier Parish, now known as the Shrine of Old Bohemia, in
Cecil County, at least in 1819 (although he was not a Jesuit priest, as the
Bohemia book states). He may have taught at St. Mary's College in
Baltimore, in addition to Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg.
From the above-mentioned sources I have extracted all of the important
details you might wish. However, there are innumerable entries, not fully
checked by me, about Hickey in the indexes of "The Story of the Mountain:
Mount St. Mary's College and Seminary" and in Charles Herbermann's "The
Sulpicians in the United States" and even in Joseph Dirvin's "Mrs. Seton:
Foundress of the American Sisters of Charity." I will leave it to you to
obtain these books from libraries, perhaps through inter-library loans.
The last-named book among other things describes the young priest as
"bumbling, bashful..and Elizabeth got a great deal of mischievous amusement
from his agonizing blushes..." (page 361). The saint knew him even as a
student and often scolded him for his severity, including toward his "sister
Eleanor [who] was pupil at St. Joseph's and his brother William [who was] a
pupil at the Mount" (page 431).
His obituary in "The Catholic Mirror," our local archdiocesan newspaper,
viewed on microfilm, was very brief. (Unfortunately, I cannot make copies
from our microfilm reader.) It stated, in addition to his assignments noted
above, that at his death he was "the oldest priest, we believe, in the
United States... Father Hickey's funeral services took place at the chapel
of St. Mary's Seminary... His last request was that his remains should be
buried in the calvary at the rear of the Seminary where he had passed
several years of his long career..." The chapel still stands but the
seminary, then on Paca Street, has been relocated to Roland Avenue. Contact
the Sulpician Archives, 711 Maiden Choice Lane, Baltimore MD 21228,
telephone 410-242-4499, about the relocation of the graves and perhaps other
available information about the priest.
The marriage records of St. Vincent de Paul Church appear on microfilm
at the Maryland State Archives. It is a restricted reel (since it begins
with baptism after 1920) which must be requested at the main desk.
Last Update Wednesday, 14-Jan-2009 13:49:40 EST