“A Biographical History of Lancaster Co. Being a History of
Early Settlers and Eminent Men of the County” by Alex. Harris, 1827
Lancaster, Pa.: Elias Barr & Co., 1872
Pg. 335, REV. BERNARD KEENAN was born in the county of Tyrone, Ireland, and was early designed by his parents for the clerical profession. He entered the college of Dungannon, where he remained as a student for four years. He was then engaged as a teacher in that institution, and thus occupied for the next seven years, having been the first Catholic who had been known to be employed as a teacher in the Protestant college of Dungannon. Having made up his mind to leave his native home, he proposed going to France; but as the Right Reverend Bishop Conwell was then on his way to London to be consecrated Bishop of Philadelphia, he accompanied him to Liverpool, where he remained until the Bishop returned, and then sailed with him to the U. S. They landed at Baltimore on Nov. 21, 1820, and from there they proceeded to Philadelphia, where the subject of this notice was ordained priest, having been the first priest ever ordained in the Philadelphia conference. Shortly after his ordination he went to Mount St. Mary’s College, near Emmettsburg, Maryland, where he remained until the death of the Rev. J. J. Holland, of St. Mary’s Church, Lancaster, in the fall of 1823. During the period he spent at Emmettsburg he assisted in giving instruction to young men pursuing their studies, for which his superior linguistic attainments amply fitted him. Before leaving Ireland he had taught for a time in a gentleman’s family. He was appointed by the Bishop of the diocese to fill the (pg. 336) vacancy existing in St. Mary’s Church, a position he has held uninterruptedly up to the present time. While in Philadelphia, and prior to his appointment to the Lancaster charge, he was believed to be in the last stages of consumption, his physicians pronouncing the left lobe of his lungs as entirely gone with that disease.
The Catholic clergymen in America were at that time few in number. In connection with his duties at Lancaster, to attend at alternate periods the missions of Harrisburg, Lebanon, Colebrook, Elizabethtown and Columbia. During the absence of Bishop Shannahan at the Ecumenical Council at Rome, in 1870, Father Keenan was designated in lieu of (pg. 337) him, the administrator of the Diocese of Harrisburg.
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