The Longest Serving Pastor, Part 1
Past Pastors: Fr. William L. Gabe (1907-1919)
Published on January 25-26, 2014 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
After Fr. Kalaher was assigned to establish Saint Columba Church in Louisville, Kentucky in November 1906, the Rev. (later the Right Rev. Monsignor) Rudolph C. Ruff (1876-1944) ministered in the spring of 1907 to the faithful in Mercer and Anderson counties from the new rectory of Saint Nicholas Church in Rose Hill. The Saint Andrew’s 1905-1965 sacramental register shows that he presided over two baptisms and two weddings at Saint Mary’s (also known as the Church of the Assumption) in Fenwick (now known as Thompsonville), one wedding and a funeral at Saint Nicholas Church in Rose Hill, and one baptism at Saint Andrew’s in Harrodsburg. It seems that the Rev. John F. Knue (1878-1945), pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Danville from 1902 to 1908, also offered assistance before a new pastor was assigned to Saint Andrew’s; he is recorded to have baptized a daughter of the Keller family at the old Church on Chiles Street on July 28, 1907.
Fr. William L. Gabe came in August 1907 to be the second pastor of Saint Andrew’s and served until October 1919, a total of twelve years and two months, the longest term to date of any pastor in this parish. The second longest serving pastor, Fr. Joseph N. Muench (born 1955), served but a few days more than twelve years from June 15, 1994 to June 30, 2006.
Fr. Gabe was born on December 5, 1865 in Henderson, Kentucky to immigrant parents from Hesse, Germany. He was baptized on the same day by the Rev. William J. Dunn (1835-1898) at Saint Louis Church (now the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus) in Henderson and given the name William Charles Louis. His parents, Christina Allman (1840-1886) and John Killion Gabe (1837-1913), had thirteen children: John T. (1861-1916), Henry (1862-?), Charles J. (1863-1923), William, Augusta (1866-1866), Mary Elizabeth (1867-1867), Henry (1869-?), Joseph Dunn (1870-1963), Louis Parnet (1873-1948), Andrew Michael (1874-1952), George William (1876-1940), Mary Margaret (1878-1946), and Julia Augustina (1881-1904). After his mother’s death, his father married Frances Schmidt (1856-?). The following were his half-siblings from this second marriage; Frederick John (1888-1950), Laura Catherine (1890-?), Leo F. (1892-1892), and Clara Matilda (1895-1980).
The young William Gabe was sent to study at Saint Joseph College in Bardstown, Kentucky before entering Preston Park Seminary (now the site of Bellarmine University) in Louisville on September 14, 1884. He was ordained to the priesthood by the Right Rev. William G. McCloskey on July 14, 1888 at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville.
The first assignment for this 23 year old newly ordained priest was to be the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Campbellsville, Kentucky, and its two missions, Saint Bernard Church in Clementsville and Saint Matthew Church in Marion County.
Saint Matthew’s was a log structure built on the three acres of land in Marion County that had been purchased for $15.00 by Bishop McCloskey in 1874. In 1898, it became a mission of the Church of the Holy Name of Mary in Calvary. In 1907, the Church was torn down and its lumber was used to build the rectory and the first Church of Our Lady of the Hills in Finley, Kentucky.