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Elliott, Walter


Missionary, author; b. Detroit, Mich., Jan. 6, 1842;d. Washington, D.C., April 18, 1928. He was the ninth child of Robert J. and Frances (O'Shea) Elliott. After attending St. Anne's School, Detroit, and the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., he began to study law in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 5th Ohio Infantry, and he fought at Port Republic, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. After the war, he resumed his study of law in Detroit where, after admission to the bar, he opened a law office. When Father Isaac hecker lectured there in May 1868, Elliott was in the audience. Three months later he joined the paulists; he was ordained on May 25, 1872, and began his missionary career, which continued with few interruptions for more than 25 years. An effective preacher, he also became a leader in the temperance crusade and was actively identified with the Catholic Total Abstinence Union.

In 1886 he temporarily left mission work to become Hecker's companion during his declining years. At Abp. John J. keane's suggestion, Elliott recorded his conversations with Hecker, using them for a biography of Hecker, which first appeared serially in 189091 in the Catholic World (v. 5153). In 1891 it was published in book form as The Life of Father Hecker. A French translation and adaptation appeared in 1897 and figured largely in the americanism controversy.

In 1893 Elliott inaugurated, on a national scale, missions to non-Catholics, organizing for that purpose diocesan mission bands in the dioceses of New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Hartford, Conn.; and Providence, R.I. To aid the missionaries financially and to disseminate Catholic literature, he and Alexander P. Doyle, CSP, founded the Catholic Missionary Union and the Missionary magazine. Elliott also raised funds for the establishment of the Apostolic Mission House, a training center for mission work on the campus of The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and became its first rector in 1902. Except for the years from 1909 to 1912 when he served as general consultor of the Paulist community in New York City, he spent the remainder of his life at the Mission House as rector, professor, and staff writer for the Missionary. His published works include Missions to Non-Catholics (New York 1893), The Life of Christ (New York 1902), Jesus Crucified (New York 1906), Parish Sermons (New York 1913), The Spiritual Life (New York 1914), Manual of Missions (Washington 1922), A Retreat for Priests (Washington 1924), A Retreat for Nuns (Washington 1925), Mission Sermons (Washington 1926), and a translation from the German of The Sermons of John Tauler (Washington 1910).

Bibliography: Apart from a short sketch of 17 pages in j. mcsorley, Father Hecker and His Friends (2d ed. St. Louis 1953), there is no published life of Father Elliott. His papers and correspondence are in the Paulist Fathers Archives, New York City.

[v. holden]

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