The Missionary Monk, Part 2
Past Pastors: Fr. Clarence Meyer, OSB (1932-1934, 1934-1942)
Published on April 25-26, 2015 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
At that time, Sacred Heart Church in Corbin served five missions that were spread across three counties in Kentucky (Whitley, Knox, and Laurel) and one in Tennessee (Campbell). Thus, aside from serving the immigrants at Saint Boniface in Jellico, Tennessee, Fr. Clarence, OSB, also ministered to the faithful at Saint Gregory in Barbourville, Saint Andrew (now Saint William) in London, Saint Sylvester in East Bernstadt (now an oratory), and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Gatliff (closed since 1937).
This monk brought that same missionary zeal to Harrodsburg when he was assigned here in 1932. Unlike the associates who had preceded him at Saints Peter and Paul, Fr. Clarence, OSB, opted to take up his residence at the rectory of Saint Nicholas in Rose Hill so that he could be more accessible to the faithful in the missions of Mercer County. His close collaboration with the people paid off and, in just two years, Saint Andrew again became a parish in its own right, independent of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Danville. That same year (1934), Fr. Clarence, OSB, moved his residence from Saint Nicholas to the rectory at Saint Andrew.
The first resident pastor of Mercer County in fifteen years became very involved in local civic clubs and activities. His involvement and interest in the community helped to reduce the prejudice against Catholics in the county. He also maintained many close relationships with his parishioners during his tenure and even long after, such that he would return to visit the parish for special occasions, e.g., the marriage of Anne Shannon McClellan (1928-2015) to Andrew Devine Williams (1920-2004) on March 30, 1949.
Saint Nicholas Church in Rose Hill had been in disrepair when Fr. Clarence, OSB, arrived and, with the improved roads to Harrodsburg, he anticipated that the mission would be closed eventually and that the Church would be torn down. Mary (McCrystal) Huff (1922-2015) recalls how he convinced her and her then fiancée Nicholas C. Huff (1920-2005) to get married at Saint Andrew Church and not at Saint Nicholas. “They will tear down that Church,” he told them, “and with it all of your memories.” Thus, Nicholas and Mary Huff were married before Fr. Clarence, OSB, on August 2, 1941 at Saint Andrew. Saint Nicholas Church would be razed to the ground in 1949.
In 1941, the United States War Department procured the Kentucky State Hospital in Boyle County and renamed it the Darnell Military Hospital (now Northpoint Training Center). The government then asked Fr. Clarence, OSB, to celebrate Mass every Sunday morning for the Catholic personnel and German prisoners-of-war there. With the permission of the Most Rev. John A. Floersh (1886-1968), then the Archbishop of Louisville (1937-1967), he began a weekly Mass at the hospital, using the Red Cross Hall as a chapel.