Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'd like one of these for each of my ancestors, thanks

I posted this on Friday, but then took it down, concerned about confidentiality and sentiment. The death of the person in question was within my own lifetime, and thus, to my mind, relatively recent. He certainly has still-living relatives much closer than me, and I'm concerned about seeming flippant about his death and using it as no more than a resource. So I've removed specifics. Feel free to contact me if you'd like more information.

My new favorite priests are the Maryknoll Missionaries, hands down. I sent an e-mail to their archives department yesterday after work and when I got to work this morning, I already had a response. And oh what a response it was!

I'd asked for any information or records they might have on a first cousin thrice removed, because I knew from the SSDI that he'd died at Maryknoll in Westchester. And when I asked for information, boy did they give me information!

They sent a letter published by the Maryknoll order upon the his death. It includes a picture, and starts with his birthdate, death date, cause of death, parents including mother's maiden name (which I already knew, but now I almost wish I didn't so I could have learned it here), and siblings. I'd known his brother was a priest, but now I know he was an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. (The Oblates, unfortunately, don't have as easily accessible an archival department, but I've sent an e-mail asking whom I should contact if looking for information.) I'd also known he'd had aunts who were nuns, but now I know that at least one was a Maryknoll Sister, and I may see whether they have any information on her, too, although that's his father's side of the family, not ours.

It goes on to talk about his schooling - elementary through college and seminary - and his ordination as a priest, as well as his family, though the relatives they refer to there are all from his father's not his mother's, side. (That side of the family had lots of priests and religious in their family. We had none, as far as I'm aware.)

Then the letter goes on to talk about all the countries he served in as a priest, including Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Japan, and Mexico, and mentions his time in Israel, California, and New York. It describes his apparently stellar personality. (". . .engaging personality and sense of humor. . .Irish wit. . . keen observation. . .") The letter then gives his sister's married name and an address.

What an incredible resource! Who do I write to get one of these about each of my relatives?

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