Rev. Philip Hasson, who grew up at 4931 Pentridge Street, was the first boy from our parish school to enter the priesthood – ordained as a Marist (Society of Mary) in 1919.
Hasson’s father was an Irish immigrant stonecutter. We have no information about where he may have worked; it’s even possible that he was one of the labourers who built our church, which would open the way to all sorts of reflections on Biblical cornerstones and builders!
Born in 1893, as the eldest of seven children, young Philip attended SFDS Parish School with his sisters. He was admitted to the Marist Seminary, a prep school for boys training for the priesthood, in 1908, at age 15 (That would have been just as our church was being built). He entered the Marist College associated with Catholic University in Washington DC when he was 20; spent his Canonical Novitiate year at St. Mary’s Manor in Langhorne, PA, in 1914; then returned to Marist College to finish his studies. Hasson was ordained by the Rector of Catholic University, Bishop Thomas Shahan, on June 19, 1919.
When I contacted the Marist archivist, looking for information on Hasson, she mentioned that he had been a member of their Mission Band. Since I had recently researched Captain James Cousart and the SFDS Boys Battalion marching band, my mind naturally went to music, and I asked “Do you know what instrument he played?”
I guess the correct answer would be “hearts”! It turns out the Mission Band (shown in the photo) were traveling missionaries. For fifteen years, from 1927 to 1941, Hasson crisscrossed the country and “preached Missions, Retreats, conducted Triduums, and preached at Forty Hour Devotions.” It was said he “endeared himself to all.”
Before he became a missionary, Hasson spent the first few years of his career teaching, then as an Assistant Pastor in Georgia. After his missionary years, he was appointed pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church and the Missions of SE Georgia “and was Superior of the Marist Fathers who served with and under his direction.” Later, he assisted at several other parishes in different states.
Hasson returned to Pennsylvania in ill health and died of esophageal cancer at age 65 in 1958. He was buried on the grounds of St. Mary’s Manor, Penndel, where he made his novitiate.
Hasson’s obituary notes that “he was the first of many pupils of St. Francis de Sale Parochial School to be ordained priests. This was a thing of much joy to his devoted and saintly Pastor, the late beloved Bishop Michael J. Crane as well as to his beloved parents and sisters.”