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McKenna, Charles Hyacinth


Preacher; b. Fillalea, Co. Derry, Ireland, May 8, 1834; d. Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 21, 1917. As the son of Francis and Anna (Gillespie-McDonald) McKenna, he came to the U.S. in 1851. At Lancaster, Pa., he continued his limited schooling for two years and then became a stonecutter. Support of his widowed mother delayed fulfillment of his priestly aspirations, but in 1859 he entered Sinsinawa Mound College, Wis., to complete his studies. He made profession in the Dominican Order at St. Joseph's Priory, Somerset, Ohio, April 20, 1863, and was ordained in Cincinnati on Oct. 13, 1867, by Abp. John B. Purcell. Except for a few years as novice master at St. Rose Priory, Springfield, Ky. (186870), and as prior and pastor in Louisville, Ky. (187881) and in Somerset (188991), McKenna was stationed at St. Vincent Ferrer's Church, New York City. There he devoted himself principally to the work of preaching. His lectures were well attended by the working class, and Cardinal James Gibbons considered him the best missionary preacher in the U.S. The Dominican Order conferred on him the rank of preacher general in 1881. McKenna wrote a number of pious manuals during his missionary years; representative titles are: How to Make the Mission (1873) and The Angelic Guide (1899). After 1900 he labored for the promotion of Catholic societies. He was the founder of St. Vincent Ferrer's Union and director-general of the confraternities of the Holy Name and of the Rosary. His efforts were responsible for mitigation of Vatican restrictions on the confraternities and for popularization of the Holy Name Society among American Catholic men. He was widely regarded as the Father of the Holy Name Society. In 1914 he retired to the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C.

Bibliography: v. f. o'daniel, Very Rev. Charles Hyacinth McKenna (New York 1917).

[j. l. morrison]

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