Trainor, Father Charles

1947, December 23

Date of Birth: 1895, May 9

March 2, 1948

Fathers and Dear Confreres:

Death has once again claimed a victim in our American Sulpician province. Once again it was St. Edward’s major seminary in Kenmore, in the Diocese of Seattle, that undergoes trial by this loss. Our confrere, Father Charles Trainor, has been called to God.

Charles Patrick Trainor was born in Fall River, Massachusetts (in the United States) on May 9, 1895. His parents, Francis and Marguerite Trainor, fine Catholics, raised him in the fear and love of God and of the Church. His early education was in the public schools of his native city. When his early studies were over, his parents sent him to St. Dunstan’s College in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Father Trainor took a bachelor’s degree there. He left there in June, 1918.

In September of the same year he entered St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. That was the result of Charles Trainor’s having decided to dedicate his life to the service of the Church and to that of God. His Catholic upbringing had laid the groundwork for that decision. It had become, little by little, in the course of his years of study, more firm; it had matured. His memory had been for our future confrere light, safeguard, and force. It was that decision and that memory, lived across the hazards of his youthful years, which brought Charles Trainor to the major seminary in Baltimore.

It was there that he began his philosophical and theological studies. At once he showed himself intelligent, deep-thinking, devoted to intellectual work, exceptionally endowed to succeed in it. That is why, when Father Dyer, Provincial Superior of the Society in the United States, founded and opened a new seminary in Washington near the Catholic University of America, Charles Trainor was sent there. In that house he completed his theological studies. On May 26, 1923, in Fall River, he was ordained priest by his own ordinary, Bishop Feehan.

He made his Solitude in 1923-1924. With that behind him, he was admitted to the Society.

This man from the easternmost area of the United States received the Far West as his first assignment. He was named teacher at the minor seminary, St. Joseph’s, in California. What he was there we can surmise from what he was later: a hard-working teacher, conscientious, anxious to make his students work, always on watch to hold their interest and to do his best to instruct them.

In 1926, Father Trainor was called back to the East of the United States. He was named teacher at the minor seminary, St. Charles, in Catonsville. There his job was pretty much the same as at St. Joseph’s. But he stayed there only a year. Father Fenlon, Provincial Superior, had other plans for him. In the fall of 1927, he sent Father Trainor to the Sulpician Procure in Rome to earn a degree in Theology. Our confrere attended the Angelicum for two years. In 1929, as a Doctor of Theology, he returned to the United States.

Both at St. Joseph’s in Mountain View and at St. Charles in Catonsville, Charles Trainor as a teacher of Latin, Greek, History, and English, had been (only when they were at a distance from the priesthood) able to prepare the souls of the boys and young men under him. Henceforth he would work close at hand in the training of priests. He was named to St. Mary’s Seminary. Both at Baltimore and at Washington he successively taught Psychology, Moral Theology, Preaching, and Holy Scripture. In the course of time, Father Trainor’s health began to weaken. He needed rest. As soon as his health improved, our confrere was named to St. Edward’s, the major seminary in the Diocese of Seattle in Washington State. It was there that he was, for all practical purposes, to end his career. That career was, however, interrupted by several recurrences of his illness.

Those who might see him only occasionally would never have believed that Father Trainor would not have a long life. Of medium height, the image of health, well balanced physically and morally, Father Trainor, without stint, gave himself to the work of teaching and priestly education, the work entrusted to him. Sometimes it was said to him that he was overdoing it in his teaching and in his direction. “Take care,” it was said to him, “you are well enough prepared for your classes. Why do you keep on endlessly reworking what you are already the master of?  Your students need only the essentials!”  He would smile, barely answer, or else he would give assurance that he must be thorough in all his work and do it as well as he could; and, Father Trainor would return to his work. The questioner got the impression – and it was close to the truth – that the interrogation was at an end.

But the strength of our confrere, in spite of false appearances, was no match for his zeal. The time came when his heart began to give out. There was a real need to let up and to take the precautions called for. Father Trainor submitted to the judgment of the doctors and agreed to take a little rest.

When his health seemed restored, he was sent back to St. Edward’s, to the major seminary, where the work was perhaps a little lighter than at St. Mary’s. He was happy about going there. He loved that house and was loved in it. “No one,” he said, “can find a more charitable and more likeable group of confreres than I find at St. Edward’s Seminary.” Once more his health began to decline. He had to give up again. Since I knew him personally, I wrote to him to encourage him and to comfort him. He sent me back a letter full of gratitude, affection, and attachment to the Society. After that, I had no news from him. I was hoping that by taking care of himself, he was again able – at least to some degree – to work in our American houses. That hope was not realized.

In the last days of 1947, we learned that Father Trainor had been called to God.

He was on vacation at the home of his brother, Mr. Louis H. Trainor, at Tulsa, Oklahoma, when death came to surprise him. On Wednesday, December 23rd, his heart once again – for the last time – failed him. His brother and his relatives were gathered around him. With the greatest calm, he waited for the priest who had immediately been called. When that priest had given him the last sacraments, our confrere smiled at him and also at all his dear ones as if to thank them and take his leave. After that, he who had always shown such vivid faith in the mercy of Our Lord, who had loved the ministry of the Divine Pardon, who had so regularly prayed for the souls in Purgatory and for the dying, calmly fell asleep in the peace of God.

Father Trainor’s funeral was celebrated on December 29th at Fall River in Sacred Heart Church. More than a hundred priests were there. The Pontifical Requiem Mass was sung by His Excellency, Bishop James L. Connolly, Coadjutor of Fall River, in the presence of Bishop James E. Cassidy, Ordinary of the diocese. Confreres from the three seminaries of Baltimore, Seattle, and Catonsville represented the Society. His Excellency, Bishop Cassidy of Fall River, gave the absolution. Before that, our confrere, Father John C. Selner, preached the eulogy. The carrying of the body to St. Patrick’s Cemetery was headed by Father John J. Lardner, Provincial Superior of the Society in the United States; he also recited the last prayers.

I ask you to pray for the repose of the soul of the dear departed, for his family, and for our American province.

Please accept, Fathers and dear confreres, the expression of my fraternal affection in Our Lord.

P. Boisard

Superior General of the Society of St. Sulpice