Rev. Patrick X. Flaherty, CSV, a military chaplain and 1st lieutenant, died Jul. 19, 1943 at Camp Polk, LA as the result of a swimming accident. He was 33.
Fr. Flaherty was born Feb. 10, 1910 in South Boston. As a boy, he attended the parochial school of his parish, and in 1927 he graduated from English High School, before attending the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, graduating in 1934.
Within six months of graduation, he entered the Clerics of St. Viator novitiate, in Dec. 1934. Flaherty professed his first vows on Jan. 30, 1936 and his perpetual vows on Jan. 30, 1939.
Fr. Flaherty was ordained to the priesthood on May 3, 1939 in his home town of Boston.
He served as an assistant to the chancellor of the Camden Diocese in Haddonfield, NJ for three years, before leaving in 1942 to enter the U.S. Armed Forces as a chaplain. Though in the interim, he served for a few months as assistant at St. Viator Church in Chicago.
Fr. Flaherty’s best work was accomplished as chaplain to the young soldiers at Camp Polk. He was a man of great physical strength and endurance, who thought of exercise and activity as a necessity, all of which he found in the Army. He was qualified to drive all the Army vehicles — from jeep up to the largest tank and fire all the guns. Consequently, he was a soldier, as well as a chaplain, and all of the soldiers knew and respected him.
One testament to his popularity was the huge M4 tank in the 41st Armored Division that was named after him, with “Father Flaherty” written in huge white letters on both sides. It was an honor and great tribute in the Army to name a vehicle after one of its members, while the soldier was still living. Fr. Flaherty gave all credit to the priesthood at large, and the Viatorian Community in particular.
In his hometown of South Boston, a hero’s plaque was dedicated in October, 1989, in memory of Chaplain Flaherty, and located behind the James F. Condon School on Flaherty Way.
A solemn funeral took place at Camp Polk with full military honors, before his body was shipped with an escort to Chicago.
A second funeral took place at St. Viator Church in Chicago, where the Rev. Richard J. French, CSV, provincial of the Viatorians, celebrated the Mass and the Rev. John P. O’Mahoney preached the sermon. Fr. Flaherty’s Viatorian confreres were on the altar and in the aisles, and the church was packed with people.
Burial took place in the Viatorian Community plot at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cemetery in Bourbonnais, IL.
Taken from the 1943 Annuaire, a publication of the Viatorian General Direction, pp. 181-185