FATHER QUIRK COMES TO CALHOUN IN 1873 - "Padre Of The Mountains"


The membership of the Catholic Church in Calhoun County has always been small, but most residents believe the presence of the church happened in recent years with the establishment of the Prince of Peace missionary church at Pleasant Hill.

Several of the earlier settlers of Calhoun County, relatively new immigrants to America, were of Catholic faith, most settling along the waters of the Little Kanawha and in areas adjacent to the Staunton Turnpike.

A character re-enactment of the life of Monsignor Thomas Quirk (1845-1937) was performed this week in Charleston by Wheeling writer and historian Jim Mullooly. Father Quirk reported in his diary about traveling to Elizabeth, McFarlan and Grantsville in 1873 to visit with Catholic families who lived in the area.

Fr. Quirk, known as "Padre of the Mountains," spent most of his life on Loveberry Ridge in Lewis County, from which he covered mission churches as far away as Webster County. He continued with his ministry on horseback until shortly before his death at 93 in 1937.

Thousands came to his funeral, and yet today hundreds come nearly 65 years later to a memorial mass held each year in Lewis County. The Irish immigrant studied in France, came to America and fought in the Civil War and became a devoted servant to the backwoods people of West Virginia.

Mullooly is portraying the historical priest this year, the 150th anniversary of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese of the Catholic Church. He has been a contributor to The Hur Herald.

Jim Mullooly looks at original Father Quirk photos

Historical character performed for Charleston students

"Padre of the Mountains" tells life story