The First Resident Pastor, Part 2

Past Pastors: Fr. John D. Kalaher (1905-1906)
Published on January 18-19, 2014 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY

Bishop McCloskey once observed that Fr. Kalaher “has three churches in a somewhat extensive mission which embraces Mercer and Anderson Counties and is by all odds the poorest mission in the diocese [of Louisville]. The [annual] revenue from the three places is some $375.” In spite of this, the young pastor was able to raise $1,200 to build a rectory right next to Saint Nicholas Church on Rose Hill.

On August 3, 1905, Fr. Kalaher compiled the first separate sacramental register of Saint Andrew’s. Prior to this date, all sacramental records for Harrodsburg, Rose Hill, and Lawrenceburg were kept at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Danville. The register shows that, during his brief term as pastor, Fr. Kalaher celebrated 28 baptisms, one wedding, and five funerals. He also was able to invite Bishop McCloskey twice to Saint Andrew’s to confer the Sacrament on Confirmation: first, on August 27, 1905, and then on November 18, 1906.

Two days after this second Confirmation, Fr. Kalaher was reassigned to Louisville to be the founding pastor of the second Saint Columba Church. The first Saint Columba’s was located on Washington Street from 1877 to 1893; it was renamed the Church of the Blessed Sacrament and stood at the same site from 1893 to 1933. The second Saint Columba’s began as a small wood frame church adjoining the railroad at Market and Thirty-second Streets. Fr. Kalaher moved it to Thirty-sixth and Market Streets in late 1910. This new Church was blessed on June 11, 1911 and expanded in 1916.

Fr. Kalaher opened the first Saint Columba School in 1907 with 19 pupils and two teachers from the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, Sr. Mary Martina Clements, OSU (1878-1944), and Sr. Mary Patricia Cummins, OSU (1878-1963). In 1914, he built a five–classroom building to accommodate the growing needs of the parish. This building still stands and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is now part of the Saint Columba Court Senior Apartments, since the parish had closed in June 1996.

The Grave of Fr. John Kalaher at Saint Louis Cemetery in Louisville

The Grave of Fr. John Kalaher
at Saint Louis Cemetery in Louisville

On October 16, 1916, Fr. Kalaher suffered a stroke which left him a partial invalid for the rest of his life. He was put on leave for three and a half years while he recuperated at the old Saint Joseph Infirmary on Fourth Street (between Broadway and Chestnut). The Rev. James J. Maloney (1891-1964), who had just been ordained on May 25, 1916, served as the administrator of Saint Columba’s until the end of 1919. Fr. Kalaher resumed the pastorate on January 1, 1920 and remained at the parish until November 1924 when he was made the chaplain of Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville. The Rev. John F. Knue (1878-1945), who was his old neighbor in Boyle County (Fr. Knue was pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Danville from 1902 to 1908) when he served as pastor of Saint Andrew’s, replaced him as pastor of Saint Columba’s.

Fr. John Kalaher died from pneumonia on August 17, 1934 in Rome City, Indiana. He had been on vacation there at the Kneipp Sanitarium of the Sisters of the Precious Blood (now known as Sylvan Springs) with the Rev. John T. Hill (1869-1936). Following services at the Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital Chapel, he was buried from Saint Columba’s and interred in the Kalaher family plot at Saint Louis Cemetery in Louisville.

~ by Fr. Noel F. Zamora on Saturday, January 18, 2014.

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