The First Resident Pastor, Part 1
Past Pastors: Fr. John D. Kalaher (1905-1906)
Published on January 11-12, 2014 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
It took almost twelve years after its first Church was consecrated before the parish of Saint Andrew’s in Harrodsburg received its first resident pastor. The Right Rev. William G. McCloskey (1823-1909), then the Bishop of Louisville (1868-1909), appointed the Rev. John D. Kalaher (1875-1934) as pastor of Saint Andrew’s on June 30, 1905 and assigned him to minister also to the missions of Saint Nicholas on Rose Hill (then also known as Chaplin) and Saint James the Less (now Saint Lawrence Church) in Lawrenceburg. Prior to this, the pastor at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Danville would travel to Mercer County to celebrate Mass at the churches of Saint Andrew and Saint Nicholas. By the next year, Fr. Kalaher would also take over the care of the Church of the Assumption (also referred to as Saint Mary’s) in Thompsonville (then also known as Fenwick) which had been a mission of Saint Rose Church and Protopriory in Springfield.
The Rev. John Daniel Kalaher was born to immigrant parents on January 13, 1875 in Louisville, Kentucky. His father, Thomas Kalaher (1831-1907), came to the city in 1851 from County Galway, Ireland. It was there that he met Mary Fahey (1832-1915), another transplant from County Galway. Thomas and Mary married in 1856 and had seven children, one of whom died in childhood. They raised them in what was then the parish of Saint John the Evangelist (closed since 1985). None of their six adult children—Martin J. (1857-1931), Mary (1859-1949), Thomas Jr. (1864-1892), Katherine L. (1866-1936), Nora (1869-1917), and John (1875-1934)—ever married or had children.
On September 7, 1890, John, the youngest of the brood, entered Saint Charles College (closed since 1977) in Ellicott City, Maryland. He would continue his studies for the priesthood at Saint Mary Seminary (now also a University) in Baltimore, Maryland, and the American College of the Immaculate Conception (closed since 2011) in Leuven, Belgium. On June 29, 1900, he was ordained a priest at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville by the Right Rev. Thomas S. Byrne (1841-1923), the fifth Bishop of Nashville (1894-1923).
Fr. Kalaher first served as a temporary assistant to the Right Rev. Monsignor Michael Bouchet (1827-1903), vicar general of the Diocese of Louisville (1871-1903) and rector (1877-1903) of the Cathedral of the Assumption, before he was assigned in the fall of 1900 to be the associate pastor at Saint Cecilia Church (merged in 2009 with Saint Anthony Church and the Church of Our Lady or Notre Dame du Port to form the Church of the Good Shepherd) in Louisville. There he served under the pastorate of the Rev. Andrew Joseph Brady (1848-1912), the priest who had begun building the first Saint Andrew Church in Harrodsburg when he was pastor of Saints Peter and Paul in Danville from 1878 to 1893. He stayed at Saint Cecilia’s until 1904 when he was replaced by the newly ordained nephew and namesake of the pastor, the Rev. Andrew Francis Brady (1880-1907).
In November 1904, Fr. Kalaher was appointed administrator of Sacred Heart Church in Union County (now in Morganfield), Kentucky, taking the place of the Rev. Cyrin Thomas (1853-1917), the former pastor of Saints Peter and Paul in Danville (1895-1897) who had erected the first Stations of the Cross at Saint Andrew’s in 1897. He served briefly at Sacred Heart, from November 1904 to June 1905, before he was sent, at the young age of thirty and on the fifth anniversary of his priesthood ordination, to be the first resident pastor of Saint Andrew’s.