A Franciscan in Memphis: Father Francis Moening, O.F.M.

A Franciscan in Memphis: Father Francis Moening, O.F.M. May 29, 2014

Founder of St. Joseph’s Hospital. Fr. Francis, of German extraction, entered the Franciscan Order in 1862; was ordained priest in 1867, and was successively appointed Assistant Pastor, Apostolic Missionary, College Professor, Pastor and Superior and Episcopal Consultor in various places before coming to Memphis in 1887. Here in Memphis he built and enlarged St. Mary’s School, organized the Chickasaw Council of the Young Men’s Institute, of which he was the first chaplain, was Pastor simultaneously for four years of St. Mary’s and St. Brigid’s Churches, and was a member of Calvary Cemetery Board and Secretary of St. Peter’s Orphanage Board. “He took a leading part in all charities. He was noted for his good works among the sick and poor. By his faithful, earnest Christian work he endeared himself to both Catholic and Protestant.”—Commercial Appeal. In his last illness he was daily visited by Rabbi Samfield, whose daughter celebrated his memory by an acrostic poem. He founded St. Joseph’s Hospital, procured the Franciscan nurses and an able staff and gave to this institution such a healthy and vigorous foundation that during twenty-five years it has grown restlessly and wonderfully to its present size and proficiency. St. Joseph’s Hospital is a lasting monument to the charitable and impartial spirit of Father Francis; it is one of the greatest private benefactors of all Memphis and the three States. Dr. B.G. Henning says: “Father Francis possessed no imposing figure, yet when speaking to you he verily sparkled with thought and brain. He was all nerve and backbone. I have met very few men like Father Francis.” He met with a sad accident—stepping into a tank of scalding water and died at St. Joseph’s Hospital December 30, 1894. “It is with grief most sincere that all Memphis mourns Father Francis. He never allowed the smallest to do good to go unheeded. Even a child that called upon him was heeded.”—Commercial Appeal. His obsequies were performed by the Rev. T.S. Byrne, of Nashville, the funeral oration was given by the Rev. Carr, O.P. He rests in the Priests’ Mound at Calvary Cemetery.

The Book of Three States: Notable Men of Mississippi. Arkansas, Tennessee (Memphis: Commercial Appeal Publishing Co., 1914), 235.

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