O’Keefe, Rev Hugh


April 6, 1964

Personal Info

  • Date of Birth:  12 August 1928
  • Place of Birth in Ireland: Glounamuckla, Newmarket
  • County: Cork
  • Education: St Coleman’s College, Fermoy and St John’s College, Waterford
  • Date of Ordination: 17 June 1954
  • Place of Ordination: Cathedral, Waterford, Ireland
  • Ordained by: Bishop Daniel Cohalan for the Diocese of Wichita, KS

Diocesan Appointments

  • Assistant – St Mary, Derby – 11/1/1954 to 4/22/1955
  • Assistant Chaplain – Via Christi St Francis Hospital, Wichita – 4/23/1955 to 6/8/1957
  • Chancery – Catholic Nurses Director, Wichita – 6/22/1955
  • Assistant – St Andrew, Independence – 6/9/1957 to 8/28/1958
  • Assistant – St Teresa, Hutchinson – 8/19/1958 to 6/14/1962
  • Assistant – St Patrick, Chanute – 6/15/1962 to 4/6/1964

Six newly ordained priests from Ireland arrived in Wichita right before Christmas in 1954. Because Bishop Mark K. Carroll had previously made arrangements to share any new priests with the Diocese of Dodge City, the young priests drew their first diocesan appointment from a hat. The six new priests were: Fathers John Curran, Donal O’Hare and Hugh O’Keeffe who selected Wichita and Fathers Bernard Groome, Thomas McGready and Dermot Tighe, who selected Dodge City.

Father O’Keeffe, the spiritual director of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Nurses, celebrated the Mass at St Francis Hospital where some 50 members of the council attended educational sessions on the care and education of the retarded or exceptional child during the 1956 conference.

Father O’Keeffe was one of nine members of the Knights of Columbus Council 691 who earned their second and third degrees during a ceremony on 11 November 1956 at the council hall.

The Council Grove Republican newspaper covered the accident that killed Fr O’Keeffe. Apparently during the night, Father’s car ran off of US Highway 59 about seven miles from Erie, Kansas and in his attempt to get some help by waving his arms at traffic he was struck by an oncoming truck.

The accident happened while Father O’Keeffe was returning from St Joseph’s church where he attended the closing of the Forty Hours’ devotion. The Solemn Pontifical Mass for Father O’Keeffe was held in St Patrick’s church in Chanute with Bishop Leo C. Byrne as the celebrant and Bishop Mark K. Carroll present in the sanctuary. Seminarian classmates of Father O’Keeffe, Fathers Donal O’Hare and John Curran served as deacon and subdeacon. Msgr. William Schafers, preached the sermon. Three more Irish priest served as acolytes and thurifer.. The Chanute Knights of Columbus kept vigil in St Patrick’s church where Father O’Keeffe’s body lay in state until the Pontifical Mass.

The death notice in the Catholic Advance stated: “Father O’Keeffe came from Ireland just short of 10 years ago to devote his life to the Diocese of Wichita. The work of another missionary from County Cork to Southern Kansas was completed last Monday only a few days before Good Shepherd Sunday. Father O’Keeffe’s greatness was in his being a worker – one of the many who never see their names in print on earth – but who, because of it, win headlines in heaven.”

  • Date of Death: 6 April 1964
  • Place of Death: 2 miles north of South Mound, Kansas
  • Age of Death: 35
  • Cause of Death: Car accident
  • Funeral Celebrant: Most Rev. Leo Byrne, Bishop of the Wichita Diocese in St Patrick’s Church, Chanute, Kansas
  • Burial: St. Patrick’s Cemetery – Chanute, Kansas

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