Rev. Peter E. Hogan, 83, Josephite priest, archivist, expert on black Catholicism

May 08, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Rev. Peter E. Hogan, a member of the Josephite Fathers who was the order's archivist and an acknowledged expert on African-American Catholicism, died Wednesday at Mercy Medical Center of heart failure. He was 83.

"He was as delightful a character as he was scholarly," said the Rev. Michael Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester and a longtime friend. "He knew the history of blacks and the Catholic church and was without peer."

Father Hogan was born and raised in Natick, Mass., and was a 1938 graduate of Boston College High School. When he was 17, he entered the Josephite minor seminary in Newburgh, N.Y. He was ordained a priest in the chapel of Trinity College in Washington in 1946.

Father Hogan studied history at the Catholic University of America and completed graduate studies at Columbia University. In 1949, he was appointed to the faculty of the Josephite minor seminary at Epiphany Apostolic College in Newburgh, where he taught history and classics for 15 years. He also was the college's librarian and vice rector.

In the 1960s, Father Hogan was named archivist for the Josephite Society, was stationed in Baltimore and began to compile the history of his order and African-American Catholicism.

"He was a perfectionist and perhaps the most detail-oriented man I ever known," said the Rev. Joseph C. Verrett, editor of The Josephite Harvest, the order's magazine. "It drove some people up the wall because he was a stickler for procedure and saving things. However, it was the first place they came when they were looking for something."

During the next 40 years, Father Hogan combed the nation looking for documents and references that mentioned black Catholicism or his order. The collection eventually filled the basement of the order's three rowhouses at Calvert and Biddle streets.

"It's an enormous collection that has been estimated at 3 or 4 million documents," Father Verrett said. "What he has accomplished amounts to a monumental task and an institutional memory."

The Rev. Peter J. Kenney, a Josephite priest, said that Father Hogan would put in 12 or 14 hours a day compiling the history of his order, which came to Baltimore in 1871.

"For years, he also personally collected American coins and proof sets, and he has tons of them in the safe," said Kenney.

Father Hogan lectured widely on his order's history and African-American Catholicism. From 1968 to 1971, he served as secretary of the Josephite Chapter of Renewal, which revised the constitution of the order according to the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council. He was also a contributor to the Catholic Encyclopedia for School and Home and the New Catholic Encyclopedia.

In recognition of his life's work, Father Hogan was presented the Father Andrew White Award from the Catholic Historical Society of Washington in 1983.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today at St. Joseph Manor, 911 W. Lake Ave.

He is survived by a nephew, Edward Curley of Jessup; a niece, Ann Ackerson of Suffern, N.Y.; and a cousin, James O'Regan of Westborough, Mass.

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