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Andrew Eustace

(1833-1893)

“Candid to the point of bluntness. So it was said of Reverend Andrew Eustace and the 1873 account he filed for the diocese immediately prior to leaving St. Dennis was just that. One can sense a bit of frustration as this "man of truth" lamented the lack of an assistant, the need for a school facility and the fact that the parish was no longer covered by insurance. In relation to the last item, the 1871 conflagration in Chicago was most certainly on his mind. Just the year before, on the anniversary of the fire (October 9, 1872), Father Eustace, along with future St. Dennis pastor William Murphy, attended the dedication of the new St. Mary's.

A common name in France, Norman conquers brought the Eustace coat of arms to the British Isles. During the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, Eustace warriors acquired large land holdings around Kildare and Carlow.

Born a Dubliner in 1833, Andrew Eustace studied at the Irish Catholic seminaries of Castleknock and Maynooth. He entered Castleknock at fourteen and moved on to Maynooth as the youngest in his class. His studies at Maynooth extended over several years until the passing of his parents, both having died within a month from each other.

In October of 1854, Andrew continued his studies toward the priesthood in America at the Carondolet Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where an old friend, Father Feehan, later Archbishop of Chicago, was the president. In the spring of 1857 Father Andrew Eustace ventured to Chicago.

The first parish in the Chicago Diocese to receive Father Eustace was St. Patrick's Church at McHenry, McHenry County, Illinois. There he built the first rectory for the church. St. Joseph's mission church at Richmond in McHenry County received a gift from Father Eustace in the form of a small church that the parish utilized for forty years. Following his time at McHenry was an assignment presented by Bishop O'Regan for the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Elgin. This was during the War Between the States. He also served St. Mary's Church in Elgin at this time. Briefly in 1860, he assisted Father Dennis Dunne at 'old' St. Patrick's Church at the western edge of downtown Chicago. He returned once again to Elgin the following year.

At St. Dennis Father Eustace deposited $3,000 for construction of a rectory and outfitted it with his own personal furnishings. The rectory served as a vacation spot for Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis, a second cousin to Father Eustace and also his Godfather. Another task approached by Father Eustace was to fence off the two acres of Lockport cemetery land. At St. Patrick's of Lemont, enlargement and remodeling were accomplished. Even with the various improvements undertaken by Father Eustace the parish managed to have very few debts.

In 1873 altogether there were about 300 families at Saint Dennis, St. Patrick-Lemont, St. James-Sag and the Summit mission. There was no church structure at the Summit mission. St. Patrick and St. James were still missions of St. Dennis. Mass was said every other Sunday at St. Patrick's and St. James' churches. Mass at Summit was performed once a month or on a weekday.

In his final report to the diocese Father Eustace worried about the decline in church membership at St. Dennis and the other Canal missions. Lockport and Lemont were seeing an outward migration for lack of work in the area. With regret Father Andrew noted that there were but "a mere handful of people at Sag".

In December 1873, Father Eustace left the diocese that he labored in for sixteen years. Father Eustace wanted to be closer to his aging cousin, Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis. The Archbishop had invited him to come there. Father Eustace's mission had been difficult for him as it was for so many at thattime. He linked his declining health in later years to poor conditions endured in the early days of northern Illinois development.

For the next twenty years St. Michael's Church in St. Louis, Missouri, was graced with the ministry of Father Eustace. His presence in St. Louis enabled him to assist and care for the Archbishop who had numerous bouts with ill health. Ironically, the Archbishop outlived him. In 1891, Father Eustace was struck by a severe attack of grippe. Father Andrew Eustace passed away on the 21st of March 1893, a week short of his 60th birthday. He is laid to rest in St. Louis' Calvary Cemetery within the priest's circle. His cousin, Archbishop Kenrick, was later interred beside him.

These pages Ronald Eustice, 2009