Colleton, Rev Phillip


December 1, 1876

Personal Data

  • Date of Birth:  17 March 1821
  • Place of Birth in Ireland: Donaghmoyne
  • County: Monaghan
  • Date of Ordination: 18 July 1863
  • Place of Ordination: St Francis Xavier Church – St Louis, MO
  • Ordained by: Archbishop Peter Kenrick for the Society of Jesus

Diocesan Appointments

  • Osage Mission – St Paul, KS – 1867 where his stations included the border counties of Missouri and Arkansas, the lands of the Cherokee, Peoria and Seneca tribes in Indian Territory and the Kansas counties of Crawford, Cherokee, Labette, Montgomery and Neosho.
  • Between 1868 and 1869 – Father set up 15 stations, two of which were located in the future Dodge City Diocese. He established a station at Fort Larned for railroad men and Catholic soldiers, celebrating Mass in a garrison and another station in Dodge City for railroad workers where he celebrated Mass in a section house.
  • Between 1869 and 1871, he built nine small churches in the Wichita Diocese and was instrumental in settling in their vicinity 840 Catholic families.

At the age of 33, Father Colleton was ordained a Jesuit priest. After traveling to the USA, he served as a scholastic stationed at St Joseph’s College in Bardstown, Kentucky and then at St Louis University. He was later sent to St Mary’s Kansas to teach and serve as a missionary.

In his final assignment he arrived at Osage Mission in 1867.

His missionary work was legendary as he was credited with establishing at least 33 mission stations in Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. He traveled as far west as Pueblo, Colorado to serve railroad workers but there are no named stations in that state. He seemed to favor soldiers, railroad workers and miners as he felt like those were the people he could most likely help through his counseling skills and a bit of Irish wit and humor. In working with these men, he subjected himself to the same rough, dirty and brutal living conditions that they endured.

According to “Legend of Greenbush Kansas” in 1869, Father Colleton was caught in a ferocious hailstorm on his way to Greenbush. He took refuge under his horse’s saddle and vowed that if his life was spared, he would build a church on that very spot. His prayer, according to folklore was placed on a historical Kansas marker, and resulted in the building of St Aloysius in Greenbush, the first Catholic Church erected in Crawford County in 1871.

Much of Father Colleton’s missionary work was done on horseback. During the late 1860’s and 1870’s, the railroads began extending their range across the plains allowing him to travel by rail.

However, the railroads presented their own dangers and in the winter of 1873, Father Colleton was involved in a fiery head-on collision between two trains traveling between Dodge City and Fort Larned that took the lives of two train crewmen.

He survived this accident but three years later while traveling on a railroad handcar near Ladore, Kansas he was thrown backward and hit his head which knocked him unconscious for several days. He was eventually returned to Osage Mission where he remained in critical condition for several months and after a period of recuperation was able to resume some of his work. However ten months later, he died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage.

  • Date of Death: 1 December 1876
  • Place of Death: Osage Mission
  • Age of Death: 55
  • Cause of Death: Complications from a railroad handcar accident
  • Burial: Jesuit Field of St Francis Cemetery at St Paul, KS.

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