Jenkins, Father Oliver Lawrence
1869, July 11
Date of Birth: 1813, June 17
July 27, 1869
Father and Very Dear Confreres,
No Memorial Card is Available
The Seminary of St. Charles has lately suffered a loss which will be keenly felt. Father Oliver Lawrence Jenkins died from a serious illness on July 11, 1869, at one o’clock in the morning. The danger was recognized almost too late; nevertheless, there was time to give him all the sacraments while he was still conscious. He received them with the piety which he had exhibited all through his life.
His patience while undergoing severe pain was unvarying: not a word, not a sign, of complaint. As he was in health, so he showed himself in sickness: simple, kind, lover of the cross. As one of his confreres said, a man whose actions were heroic.
Father Jenkins was born on June 17, 1813, at Baltimore of parents of the most respectable class in that city.
When he had finished his studies, he spent some time in secular society engaged in commercial enterprises in which he was very highly successful. However, returning from a voyage he made to Europe as a companion to his brother, he resolved to offer himself for the service of the Church.
With that in mind he entered the seminary on January 2, 1841, and on December 21, 1844 he was ordained to the priesthood. He had conducted himself in the seminary in such a way as to be judged fit for admission to the Society without further testing. It was in 1846 that he was formally admitted. He was assigned to St. Mary’s College as a teacher. In 1848 he was transferred, as Superior, to the minor seminary of St. Charles, which opened at that time. He stayed there only until 1850 and was then named President of the same St. Mary’s College where he had been a teacher. But when that college was closed, Father Jenkins returned again to St. Charles as President.
In every way Father Jenkins showed himself constantly as a man of God, seeking only His glory and thus ready for every sacrifice. A model seminarian during his years of theological study, he was a model priest, a model director, in carrying out his duties. He was especially admired for his humility, simplicity, zeal, obedience, charity and patience equal to every trial. Readily acknowledgeable was his generosity, his love for the Society, his devotion to the work to which he was assigned – this apart from his acts of charity, known only to God and those who were their beneficiaries. He was largely responsible for construction work at St. Charles, for the entire chapel. “He lived only for the work of the seminary,” said one who knew him well.
God could not keep from blessing that house. In care of Father Jenkins, it flourished; and it has come, without fanfare, to a most satisfying prosperity.
If the work had only human approval, his death, it must be owned, would put it in danger. Esteemed and loved within the seminary, Father Jenkins enjoyed beyond it a high regard which redounded on to the institution. Nothing better evidences to what heights he had risen in reputation than these words which – at the very moment when he learned of the death of our dear confrere – suddenly sprang from the lips of the Archbishop: This is a severe loss to me personally; it is one the most severe losses in the ranks of my priests.
Let us hope that by God’s grace, Father Jenkins has not entirely left a house which he loved so dearly, but that he has left his spirit; and that that spirit, which so blessedly inspired him, will inform those who succeed him.
How fortunate it is, once having reached the end of a life more productive than its length would suggest, to be able to use the same language as St. Paul did: Bonum certamen certavi! [I have fought the good fight!] The reason for our joy is apparent.
We are Christians, we are priests, we are Sulpicians; let us be aware of these points as we arise each morning, aware of these points in every one of our actions. This practice will help to rearouse us, in that threefold realization, to the spirit of our vocation, to assure us that on the day of our death we too will have the right of exhibiting the confidence of true apostles [in our own proclaiming]: Bonum, etc. [I have fought ... ]
I ask for our dear confrere the prescribed prayers.
Accept again the assurance of all my affection and devotion, with which I am, Fathers and very dear confreres,
Superior of St. Sulpice