Finding Aid Date
MS Gallagher LJ
All physical materials associated with the New England Province Archive are currently held by the Jesuit Archives in St. Louis, MO. Any inquiries about these materials should be directed to Jesuit Archives. Electronic versions of some items and the descriptions and finding aids to the Archives, which are hosted in CrossWorks, are provided only as a courtesy.
Louis J. Gallagher was born on July 22, 1885 in the Savin Hill area of Dorchester (Boston), MA, the son of James P. and Sarah (Dempsey) Gallagher. He first attended the Harbor View Street School, later named the Cora L. Ethridge School, after one of his teachers. He completed the grammar school grades at the Immaculate Conception Parochial School in Malden. He graduated from Boston College High School. After attending Boston College for two years, he entered the Society of Jesus on August 14, 1906 at St. Andrew-on Hudson in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he completed his novitiate and juniorate. Two years of philosophy at Woodstock College, in Woodstock, MD, and one year in Montreal prepared him for his regency which consisted of five years of teaching, 1912-1917, at Fordham Preparatory School in NY, teaching second and third year French and first year Elocution. During that time, he was in charge of athletics for two years and formed the Fordham Ambulance Corps that served with the French Army before the United States entered World War I and afterwards transferred to the American overseas forces. In 1917 he returned to Woodstock College for theology studies. He was ordained by Cardinal Gibbons on June 29, 1920, at Dahlgren Chapel at Georgetown University. After completing his theology studies in 1921, he was appointed headmaster of Xavier High School in New York City. In June of 1922, he was asked by Fr. Edmund A. Walsh, S.J. who was then the Director of the Papal Mission for Famine Relief to Russia, to become his assistant. He served in Russia, acting as a layman for 15 months. Much of the work involved logistics, arranging for the transportation and distribution of food, locating appropriate facilities for kitchens and dining rooms, and hiring staff. The majority of the work was done in cities where the population was swollen with refugees from all areas of the country. While he was in Russia, Fr. Gallagher was named as a Diplomatic Courier by the State Department of the Soviet Government and also by the Vatican to bring the body of Saint Andrew Bobola (1592-1657), a Jesuit Martyr, from Moscow to Rome. He used these experiences to write two books: A Test of Heritage, A Russian Class-War Novel, 1938, and The Life of Saint Andrew Bobola (with Paul V. Donovan), 1939. After escorting the body of Bobola to the Vatican, he went to Tullabeg, Ireland, for his tertianship in 1923-24.
He returned to the United States in 1924 to begin a number of administrative assignments. From 1924-1926, he served as Prefect of Studies (Dean) at Georgetown College in Washington, D.C. From 1926-1932, he served as Socius (Executive Secretary) to the Provincial of the newly formed New England Province and the Prefect of Studies for the Province. After that assignment, he became the Rector (President) of Boston College from 1932-1937. After 1937, he combined writing with administrative positions. From 1937-1940 he was the Editor and Writer of the “New England Province News,” the newsletter of the New England Province. From 1940-1943, he served as the Associate Director of the Institute of Social Order in New York City at its opening. He returned to Boston in 1943 to become the Director of the Jesuit Seminary Guild and the Superior of St. Andrew Bobola House on 300 Newbury Street in the Back Bay of Boston until 1949. From 1944 until 1946, he also was the Editor of the Jesuit Seminary News and the “New England Province News.”
For a short time in 1949, he assisted at St. Mary’s Church, the Jesuit Parish in the North End of Boston. From 1949-1951, he returned to 300 Newbury Street, serving as the Province Archivist and writing. From 1951-1955, he resided at St. Robert’s Hall, the Province Tertianship in Pomfret, CT, writing. From 1955-1970, he lived at Georgetown University, continuing his writing and again working with Fr. Edmund A. Walsh, S.J. He returned to the New England Province in 1970, living at Weston College, in Weston, MA, and serving as House Confessor. Fr. Gallagher died at Glover Memorial Hospital in Needham on August 14, 1972, at the age of 87, on the 67th anniversary of his entrance to the Society of Jesus and after 52 years as a priest. He is buried in the Jesuit Cemetery at Campion Center, formerly Weston College, in Weston, MA.
Fr. Gallagher was the author of six published books and many articles. He also wrote a memoir of his life that gives a vivid account of his time in Russia serving the Papal Relief Mission to famine victims, and a detailed story of the recovery and escort of the body of St. Andrew Bobola, S.J. from Moscow to the Vatican.
The collection consists of 1-5” box of papers and 1-2.5” box of photographs. The papers consist of several versions of Fr. Gallagher’s memoir, some correspondence related to the publication of the memoir, some materials developed by the archives and other researchers, two short stories and a Proclamation of thanks from the Kirghiz Soviet Republic. (This Proclamation is labeled as a certificate of honorary citizenship.) Fr. Gallagher’s memoir, titled either “A Twentieth Century Jesuit” or “Recollections of a Jesuit Cossack” largely focuses on the 15 months Gallagher spent in Russia. It describes the challenges of famine relief work, some of the individuals he worked with in Russia and the incognito transfer of the body of St. Andrew Bobola from Moscow to Rome. There are three versions of the memoir in the collection. Permissions were received in the mid-1960s and the early 1970s to publish the memoir, but that has not happened as of 2014. The photographs are mainly of Russia during the famine of the early 1920s. There are also some portrait photos of Fr. Gallagher.
New England Jesuit Province Archives; New England Province of the Society of Jesus; and Gallagher, Louis J. SJ, "Louis J. Gallagher, SJ Papers" (2015). Finding Aids, Special Collections. 17.