Castleknock College Union

Simon O'Donovan, class '98

In Memoriam

Mar 20, 1934
Simon O'Donovan, class '98 -

Simon O'Donovan, C.M.

Whilst cataloguing pastman participation in WWI, we found some outliers serving with the USA armed forces, and one such was located from this obituary found in the 1934 Castleknock College Chronicle:

THE REV. SIMON DONOVAN, CM, of the American Province, died at the Carney Hospital, West Roxburg, USA. He was a son of the late Mr. Patrick Donovan, Castleventry, Kilmeen, Ballineen, Co. Cork, and nephew of the late Very Rev. M . Donovan, PP, VF, Clonakilty; and of the Rev. Simon Donovan, CM, who died during the cholera epidemic in Sheffield in 1880. Two of his aunts were the late Sister Teresa, Mill Hill, London, and Sister Joseph, Beacon Lane, Liverpool, both of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

From the Diocesan College, Skibbereen, he came to Castleknock in 1871, and remained until 1874, when he went to St. Joseph's, Blackrock, the Vincentian Novitiate. He transferred to the American Province, and was ordained to the priesthood at Perryville, Mo., USA, in 1907. He had ministered with untiring zeal and with great success in various parts of the States before proceeding to France during the Great War as a Knight of Columbus chaplain to the 2nd Division, U.S. Army. At the interment at Mount St. Benedict Cemetery, West Roxburg, over one hundred clergymen attended, and military honours were paid.

Obit ODonovan,SimonBut a number of inaccuracies are found within this obituary, namely:

  1. if ordained in 1907, then the 1871-74 quoted time at Knock doesn't really fit, and on closer examination that relates to his uncle Simon, also a CM, who was head prefect here at Knock whilst a seminarian for the years 1871-74. He died in Sheffield 1880. Simon the nephew was also at Knock but for the years 1894-99, and in his final year whilst doing First Arts was head prefect alongside Edward Meehan (CM, President SVC 1916-19).
  2. the 1934 referenced burial in Mount Benedict Cemetery could not be located, but we did find a 29 Mar 1934 burial record for Simon O'Donovan. His Castleventry baptism record which confirms his date of birth as 7 Nov 1876 and the Castleknock College Roll has Donovan as the family name but we now suspect that is a typo, as his WWI registration card and the American Province, not to mention his own obituary have it as O'Donovan. The obituaries listed in this College Roll excerpt in the main also reference O'Donovan as the family name.
  3. we cannot find any record for Simon entering the Vincentian Novitiate in Blackrock as the only record found at St. Joseph's was again for his uncle who also appears in the necrology of the Irish Province, albeit as Donovan without the O'. It would thus appear that Simon after First Arts at Knock bypassed Blackrock and went direct to the Vincentian Novitiate in Perryville, and the 1910 and 1930 USA census returns confirm this as both record 1899 as his year of arrival in the USA.

Thankfully Andrew H Rea, C.M., Vincentian Librarian at DePaul University in Chicago came to rescue with the above photograph; the attached funeral newspaper report; and the below confirmation from the archives of the Vincentian Fathers of the Western Province:

Father Simon S. O'Donovan, C.M., died at Carney Hospital on 20 March 1934. He was buried from St. Teresa's Church, Boston in Mount Benedict Cemetery, West Roxbury. The grave is in section H, plot 343, the O'Donovan plot.

Andrew also supplied this further extract taken from United States Catholic Chaplains in the World War, by George J. Waring, The Chauncey Holt Company, Inc., New York City, New York, 1924.

O'Donovan, Rev. Simon S., M.A., C.M.

Born November 7, 1876, in Cork, Ireland. Educated at Bealad National School and Intermediate School, Cork, Ireland, and St. Vincent's College, Castleknock., Dublin, Ireland. Received theological training at St. Mary's Seminary, Perryville, Mo. Ordained June 9, 1906. Member of the K. of C. Served as K. C. Chaplain, September, 1918 to January 1, 1922. Stationed at Evacuation Hospital No. 19, Alleray, France, Evacuation Hospital No.3, Trier, Germany, and Station Hospital, Coblenz,' Germany. Assistant Pastor, St. Vincent's Church, Chicago, Ill. Permanent address, 1010 Webster Avenue, Chicago, Ill.

We can thus conclude that Simon O'Donovan, CM, born 7 Nov 1876 is indeed one and the same as he who went to Knock 1894-99, was ordained 1906, Chaplain with the US Army during WWI, died 20 Mar and was buried 29 Mar 1934 at Mount Benedict Cemetery, West Roxbury, Boston, MA 02132.

Requiescat in Pace.