Deep mysteries sometimes have surprisingly straightforward solutions.
Many years ago, Father Roland Slobogin (Pastor of St. Francis de Sales 1999-2004), was puzzled to find a meticulously compiled scrapbook of photos of Cardinal Dennis Joseph Dougherty, Archbishop of Philadelphia 1918 to 1951, tucked away at the Rectory. None of the pictures seemed to have anything to do with our parish. He wondered where did the book come from and why was it there?
Along with it was another fragile old scrapbook, in much need of conservation (and now missing in the Rectory), filled with press clippings relating to Bishop Crane, our second Pastor. Were the two books related? Bishop Crane was Assistant Bishop to Cardinal Dougherty. They had known each other all their lives: both came from the Ashland region of Pennsylvania, and they attended St. Joseph’s parish together – just a grade or two apart. When the future Cardinal was still Bishop Dougherty of Nuevo Segovia in the Philippines, he used to stay at the de Sales Rectory when he visited Philadelphia. As Archbishop of Philadelphia, in 1920, he presided at the Solemn Consecration of our Parish, and as Cardinal, in 1921, he consecrated Bishop Crane. Was Bishop Crane keeping track of his childhood acquaintance’s career?
But wait: the Dougherty scrapbook contained only photos, no articles, and half the pictures were taken in the 1930s and 1940s. Bishop Crane died in 1928 and the Cardinal presided at his funeral! Someone else must have compiled that album, but who and why?
Cardinal Dougherty was back at de Sales in 1940 to celebrate the Solemn Pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving marking our Parish fiftieth anniversary. Was the book prepared for his visit? But some of the pictures were later, and no references to de Sales appeared in its pages. The question lingered: who had a strange Cardinal fascination?
The answer arrived unexpectedly a few weeks ago, with a stack of St. Francis de Sales memorabilia, found in a collection of books purchased at an estate sale, and mailed to us for our archives.
We were thrilled to receive the surprise package of de Sales Night programs from the 1940s and 1950s, a 1913 event program, another from 1928, jubilee books, and more. Then, somewhere in the middle of the pile, a booklet slid out that didn’t seem to relate to our parish.
Titled, simply, “His Eminence Dennis Cardinal Dougherty,” it was well-illustrated with photos from the life of “The Great Builder” who established 106 Philadelphia parishes. The accompanying text was a sermon – the eulogy for the Cardinal’s funeral — by the Most Reverend Hugh L. Lamb , D.D.
Suddenly, everything fell into place: our fourth Pastor, Bishop Lamb (at SFDS from 1936 to 1951), was Archdiocesan Apostolic Administrator for a few months after the Cardinal died in 1951. As such, he would have supervised the layout of the official Archdiocesan funeral booklet – probably at de Sales rectory – and then somebody filed all the photos.