February 21: Father Thomas McKernan


February 21, 1959

Father Thomas McKernan

Father McKernan was born in St. Louis on June 16, 1881 and later was a student at Osage Mission (now St. Paul, KS) from 1889 to 1890 when the school closed. He finished his grade school classes in Winfield and Fort Scott before entering St. Benedict’s College in Atchison, KS. After completing his studies for the priesthood at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, he was ordained there for the Diocese of Wichita on June 11, 1907. He spent a short time as assistant at the Pro-Cathedral and then was chaplain on the St. Anthony Chapel Car visiting towns along the railroad tracks in western Kansas. For four years he was pastor of St. Aloysius’ Parish in Greenbush and briefly at St. Joseph’s Parish in Wichita before he took a two-year leave of absence due to illness. After his return he was chaplain at St. Rose Hospital in Great Bend and then chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Parsons until he retired in 1956 after 35 years. “Father McKernan was sometimes called ‘The Poet Priest of Kansas’ and had published many of his poems in a volume entitled ‘Musings.’” (The Advance Register, Mar. 6, 1959) Bishop Carroll celebrated Father McKernan’s funeral at St. Patrick’s Church in Parsons where he was also buried.