Stone, James Kent
STONE, JAMES KENT
Theologian, Passionist missionary; b. Boston, Mass., Nov. 10, 1840; d. San Mateo, Calif., Oct. 4, 1921. His father, Dr. John Seely Stone, was a prominent churchman and dean of the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Mass.; his mother, Mary Kent, was the daughter of jurist James Kent, chancellor of New York and author of the standard Commentaries on American Law. James interrupted his undergraduate studies at Harvard University to spend a year at Göttingen University, Germany. After graduating from Harvard in 1861, he served as a lieutenant in the Union Army and saw action in the Battle of Antietam. He was appointed in 1863 as an instructor in Latin at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. He also pursued studies in theology, and in June 1866 was ordained an Episcopalian minister. The following year he was made president of the college. Having become involved in a controversy between "high-church" and "lowchurch" theologians over the dogma of the Incarnation, he resigned from Kenyon and accepted the presidency of Hobart College, Geneva, N.Y., in 1868.
The sudden death of his young wife, Cornelia Fay, whom he had married in 1863, and his long study of Catholic teachings disposed Stone for conversion. He entered the Church Dec. 8, 1869, joined the Paulists, and was ordained on Dec. 21, 1872. He was, however, attracted to a more austere monastic life and transferred to the Congregation of the Passion, taking his vows Aug. 11, 1878, and receiving the name Fidelis of the Cross. For the next 44 years he held office as professor, superior, master of novices, provincial, and consultor. Much of his life after 1881 was given to the South American apostolate, erecting Passionist houses and preaching missions in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. He returned to the U.S. in 1889 to speak at the opening of the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and again from 1894 to 1897, for a preaching tour. He was stationed in the U.S. from 1899 to 1908, when he was named provincial for South America. After he was barred from Mexico by the Carranza regime in 1914, he labored in Cuba and Texas before his retirement in 1917. Despite his reputation as a theologian and preacher, Stone's only publications were an apologia, The Invitation Heeded (1870), which had 17 editions, and its autobiographical sequel, An Awakening and What Followed (1920), written at the end of his life.
Bibliography: W. G. and h. g. smith, Fidelis of the Cross (James Kent Stone ) (New York 1926). k. burton, No Shadow of Turning (New York 1944). r. j. purcell, Dictionary of American Biography, ed. a. johnson and d. malone (New York 1928–36) 18:76–77.
[c. j. yuhaus]