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Rev. Patrick Joseph Kane, who for a third of a century has been pastor of the Church of Our Holy Redeemer at Webster Groves, is a native of Ireland but during his childhood days was brought by his parents to the United States and became a pupil in the public schools of Bloomington, Illinois, where the family home was established. He afterward attended a local business college and later became a student in the Christian Brothers College at St. Louis. Having determined to enter the priesthood he subsequently pursued his theological studies in St. Mary’s Seminary at Baltimore, Maryland, and there received his ordination on the 22d of December, 1882.
Father Kane began his active work as a priest at Hannibal, Missouri, where he was assigned to the duty of assistant, remaining there until the 1st of May following, when he was transferred to St. John’s church in St. Louis, at which he officiated as assistant pastor while the regular pastor was making a tour in Europe. In the fall of 1883 Rev. Fr. Kane was appointed pastor of the church of the Immaculate Conception at St. Mary’s, Missouri, and his three and one-half years’ ministry there was remarkably successful. Under his guidance the work of the church and its various societies was thoroughly organized and during the period of his labors there thirty-five or more new members were received into the church, the parish numbering about two hundred families. He spent much time in traveling through the country districts, visiting the members living there and stimulating an interest in the church and its work. His labors resulted in the acquirement of means necessary for the purchase of several valuable pieces of ground. He was also instrumental in constructing a building for the Ursuline nuns. The rapid growth of the parish made it soon evident that a new church building was necessary and he did much toward making possible the erection of a new building for that purpose.
In 1887 he was assigned to the Church of Our Holy Redeemer at Webster Groves as the successor of the Rev. C. F. O’Leary, who had been appointed to the parish in October, 1886, and celebrated his first mass on the second Sunday in November in the Lockwood schoolhouse, where he continued to celebrate mass every second Sunday, the alternate Sunday being devoted to the parish at Fenton, Missouri. Father O’Leary had just begun the erection of a frame church when he was relieved of the charge and Father Kane was assigned to the pastorate. There was an indebtedness of about two thousand dollars in the parish and the new church building had just been begun. There had not been entire harmony between his predecessor and the trustees and the conditions there existing did not appear very favorable. Father Kane, however, at once took up his labors and by his tactful management, his zeal and interest soon restored harmony in the parish and had laid his plans for the further conduct of the work. Various obstacles and difficulties were encountered, but he met these with unfaltering courage and in a comparatively brief period had acquired means sufficient to enable him not only to build but to furnish a church edifice, which was dedicated on the 19th of June, 1887.
It was during this period of prolonged struggle for existence that Archbishop Kenrick insisted upon Father Kane becoming the sole trustee of the church property. Much against his will Father Kane consented to assume the responsibility of the indebtedness of the parish and as resolutely set to work to discharge it-a result which he accomplished in due time, deserving much credit for his efforts in this connection. The present magnificent church building and the prosperous circumstances surrounding the parish are the consequences of his whole-souled and enthusiastic effort thrown into the work. The completion of the church building was immediately followed by the erection of a parish house and in 1893 Father Kane purchased two hundred feet of ground facing on Joy avenue and extending back two hundred and fifty feet on Lockwood, while two years later he purchased another hundred feet adjoining on Joy Avenue, constituting one of the valuable locations in Webster Park. The corner stone of the new church building was laid September 8, 1895, and on the 2d of May, 1897, the church was dedicated, having been erected of Merrimac Highlands limestone. In 1910 was finished the beautiful and spacious red brick school west of the rock church. The school contained six class-rooms, an auditorium seating seven hundred people, with stage, dressing-rooms, etc., a chapel and gymnasium in the basement.
A contemporary biographer has written: “Father Kane has not only won the love and esteem, as well as the confidence of the members of his own parish but is also held in high repute throughout the community by those of Protestant faith.” He is one of the foremost men of the community, exerting a wide influence for good not only among people of his own belief but among others as well. Earnest and tactful he accomplishes what he undertakes and has so won the confidence and approval of his people that he has indeed become a leader among them, his parishioners never hesitating to follow his example or give him their active cooperation.