Davern, Rev John



July 12, 1941

Personal Info

  • Date of Birth:  24 July 1882
  • Place of Birth in Ireland: Elton
  • County: Limerick
  • Education: St Patrick’s College in Carlow
  • Date of Ordination: 8 June 1908
  • Place of Ordination: St Patrick’s College Chapel in Carlow
  • Ordained by: Most Rev. Patrick Foley, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin

Diocesan Appointments:

  • Chaplain – Mount St. Mary’s Convent – 9/14/1908 to 1/19/1909
  • Pastor – St Mary’s, Chase with missions of Holy Trinity, Little River and St Joseph, McPherson – 1/19/1908 to 2/28/1918
  • Chaplain – for the United States Army’s 44thA.C. regiment – 1917 to 1919
  • Assistant – St Joseph, Ellinwood – 1919 to 3/11/1921
  • Pastor – St Patrick, Walnut – 3/12/1921 to 2/24/1928
  • Pastor – St Rose of Lima, Great Bend – 3/1/1928 to 7/12/1941
  • Member – Diocesan School Board of Priests – 12/5/1929

Father Davern foresaw that the United States would be forced to enter the war and in leaving his post at St Mary’s in Chase he said “I want to go ‘over there’ with the boys.” Following his Army training in Texas and one week after the U.S. entered the war, Father Davern sailed with his machine gun battalion for France where they battled in the Alsace and the Meuse-Argonne sectors and where Father was wounded. His battalion was mainly composed of Irish and German Catholic doughboys. Following a month of hospitalization, recovering from his wounds, he returned to the front lines. After the armistice, the Army then sent Father Davern to Brest, France where he witness a tragic flu epidemic. During the height of this epidemic, he buried between 15 to 50 doughboys a day.

A week after Father Davern was honorably discharged, he returned to the Wichita Diocese where he was made assistant to Father Emmerich, another chaplain veteran at St Joseph Parish in Ellinwood. Shortly thereafter, Father Davern was again made a pastor where he built Catholic schools in Walnut and in Great Bend.

Because of his service in the Army, he was well known and respected by veteran organizations in Kansas, and was very much in demand at various Veterans of Foreign War gatherings. He was fond of saying to them: “Boys, you are in the army of Christ. I want you to be good soldiers.”  In addition, Father Davern served as the Chaplain for the VFW Post 3111 and was elected to the Kansas State Chaplain Post of the VFW in 1936.

His life and passion for the priesthood was beautifully summed up in the aforementioned Catholic Advance in this way: “At the age of 59, Father Davern has entered eternity. It was not a very long life. But Father Davern lived every year of it, and especially the priestly part of it. From the oils of ordination to the oils of Extreme Unction, there past 33 years, and they went like the wind, but not until Father Davern had crowded them with priestly works that enrich souls and added to the harvest in the Master’s vineyard.”

Father T.J. O’Sullivan, a life-long friend of Fr. Davern, preached the sermon at his funeral Mass and closed with “Ordained, he crossed the sea to a land strange to him…a ‘mission’ land where he could spend himself in the cause of Christ…for 33 years he labored in our diocese and they were fruitful years….May God rest his soul.”

  • Date of Death: 12 July 1941
  • Place of Death: St Rose’s Hospital, Great Bend
  • Age of Death: 58
  • Cause of Death: Cancer
  • Funeral Celebrant: Bishop Christian H. Winkelmann
  • Burial: Great Bend Cemetery, Great Bend, KS

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