Friday, December 14, 2018


Father Thomas Conway – 
the Last Chaplain to Die in World War II

Father Thomas Conway was born on April 5, 1908, in Waterbury, Connecticut, the eldest of three children. Conway enrolled in Our Lady of Angels Seminary on June 8, 1931, and was ordained into the Catholic Priesthood on May 26, 1934. On September 17, 1942, he enlisted in the U. S. Navy and joined the crew of the ill-fated USS Indianapolis on August 25, 1944.

Conway was onboard the Indianapolis when it struck by Japanese torpedoes in the early hours of July 30, 1945. The ship sank in twelve minutes. When help finally arrived, there were only 316 survivors of the 890 sailors who made it off the ship.

For three nights Fr. Conway swam to the aid of his shipmates, reassuring them with prayers until he himself expired, the last Catholic chaplain to die in WWII.

Capt. Lewis Haynes, the Indianapolis‘ medical doctor paid tribute to Fr. Conway’s faith and heroism which was published in a 1955 edition of The Saturday Evening Post: “we have found one comfort — a strong belief to which we cling. God seems very close. Much of our feeling is strengthened by the chaplain, who moves from one group to another to pray with the men. The chaplain, a priest, is not a strong man physically, yet his courage and goodness seemed to have no limit.”

Father Conway continues to be remembered and honored, especially in his hometown with a memorial Mass on his birthday and with holy cards. In 2015 the Waterbury Veterans installed a memorial to him on the basilica’s grounds.

On a personal note, Albert Ferguson, CMM USN, was one of the final survivors of the USS Indianapolis sinking. I knew “Bert” (as he was known among family and friends) through my life-long friendship with his son, Jeff Ferguson. On our first meeting, I noticed Bert’s commemorative Indianapolis belt buckle. Nearly stammering, I asked him if he was an Indianapolis survivor, which he confirmed. Bert will always have a place of honor in my heart.

A statue in Waterbury, Connecticut, depicts Father Thomas Conway
in the ocean aiding a drowning sailor after the USS Indianapolis
was torpedoed in 1945. (Photo courtesy of Bob Dorr)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018



Rest In Peace 

December 7, 2018

JOHN “JACK” ANDERSON died peacefully at Nazareth Home in Louisville, Kentucky, the morning of December 7, 2018. Jack’s was preceded in death three weeks earlier by his only surviving sibling, Mary Alice Auerweck, also resident at Nazareth Home, on November 18, 2018.

Jack graduated from Saint Xavier High School with honors. He went on to start his own business, Jack’s Cleaners on Central Avenue. Later in life he worked for United Parcel Service in Louisville until his retirement.

Several life-long friends looked after his needs and visited him regularly in his last days: Madonna Truloc, Larry Wright, Bhawan (Tucker) and Kavita Thacker, Roger Metry and Father Ronald Knott.

Jack was a private person who avoided attention, but he was also a person who was especially attentive and generous to those who were hurting, those who were marginalized and those who needed help. Besides enjoying helping people, he appreciated his faithful friends very much. He was an avid reader. Until his later years, he enjoyed traveling and fine restaurants. He was especially proud of the coffee shop at Saint Meinrad Seminary which was named after him – Jack’s Coffee Shop in the Alumni Commons.  

This is the original coffee cup logo. 

For his 80th birthday, from my speaking engagements, I funded a coffee shop at Saint Meinrad Seminary and named it after him. 

It was something he was most proud of - a lasting memorial for him. He was giving out "Jack's" coffee mugs even up the to last few weeks of his life. 

"Jack's in the Commons" serves the seminary and lay students, monastery, faculty, staff and guests.

Jack's Coffee Shop is useful for a variety of gatherings and receptions. This was one of the yearly gatherings of international students and priests discussing the process of entering American culture. 

Monday, December 10, 2018




Choose From the Following Options

I would like to give the priests, nuns and pastoral staff workers down in the islands a little personal spending money for Christmas. The average priest's salary is about $187.00 a month in US dollars! God only knows how little the nuns make! The average professional staff salary at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre is around $500.00 a month in US dollars. The average salary of the non-professional workers is about $335.00 a month in US dollars. (How would you like to support a family on that kind of money?) A small bonus at Christmas time would go a long way down there! It would make life a bit easier for them and their families over the holidays - and it wouldn't hurt us! All we have to do is cut out a little wasteful spending.
You can send a young girl or boy, with absent parents being raised by their struggling grandparents or other relatives, to Catholic School for a whole year for only $200.00 in US dollars!
You can donate some money to our "travel fund." I pay my own way, but I am trying to recruit volunteers to go with me. They will work for nothing, but they can't all pay their total way down and back. Help me sponsor them!
You can give us your used, but still in good shape, laptops and ipads for this coming summer's Kids Computer Camp. Last year's camp was a huge success! We have three volunteers going down this coming summer so we can expand the number of kids we can invite. You know Christmas is a good time to replace your old laptops and ipads even though they are still in descent shape! Don't trade them in! Give them to us!
We hope to have a "Field Day" of games, a cook-out and prizes for the kids in Saint Benedict Home for Children and Bread of Life Home for Children - the two orphanages. It will be a day they will never forget!


If you travel a lot, you can donate your unused hotel toiletries to the Guadalupe Home for Girls (teenage girls who are at risk). I have been collecting them for years because I take my own when I travel. I put the small bottles and soap bars in my suitcase each day. I have sent several bags down over the years!

My latest shipment of Christmas goodies for the kids and Pastoral Centre staff has arrived! This is Santa's sorting room. I have already heard that we are going to have a big impact this Christmas. I am hoping for a second shipment around the first week of December. I hope to have some great photos for you right after Christmas.

Santa's Helpers - Kimberley and Dennika - sorting toys and gifts to be distributed this Christmas! They are in one of our newly renovated guest rooms at the Pastoral Centre. 

It costs quite a bit to ship things down to the islands. We always need funds to cover shipping costs of even free donated items. Contribution to our SHIPPING FUND is very much needed. It recently cost me $790.00 to send down 7 very large boxes of toys, food for the orphanage, chapel furnishings and various other new and used items. It has to go by air or else it would take months to get there, if it got there at all! Even free stuff costs money to ship!
We still need used ball point pens, school supplies and school snacks for kids. Here at some second graders in Saint Mary's School with their crayons, pencils, rulers, pocket calculators and swim goggles (They were on sale at a local DOLLAR TREE! I couldn't resist! Hey, if you live on a beach, you need swim goggles.)
Just two of the several small parishes
The church in Rosebank, SVG

The church in Sandy Bay SVG
Several of the small churches in very poor areas could use uplifts. We have gathered used church furnishings, paper back hymnals and surplus sanctuary items. Some could badly use a paint job. Again, it takes money to get even free things down there. I have secured 100 free church chairs, wooden statues, a large wooden wall crucifix, a monstrance, a chalice and paten, an electric sanctuary lamp (they can't afford the constant cost of burning real candles) and quite a few usable hardback hymnals. Now I have to get them down there.

We hope to do something for the Church on Saint Vincent island this Christmas. Then we hope to do something for the Church on Bequia, Mayreau, Canouan and Union islands this coming Easter.

I am always amazed at their singing at Mass when I go down there. They put us to shame with their responses and enthusiasm. Many of them have to walk to church. They still dress up in their Sunday best to go to Mass!

The needs list could go on and on, but...

Saint Bartholomew Church - SVG Mission Fund

Send your checks to me!
I will make sure they get to the right place.
I will make sure they are used wisely!

Rev. Ronald Knott
1271 Parkway Gardens Court #106
Louisville, Kentucky 40217