Peter Cavanaugh, OFM
1905 – 1989
Fr. Peter Claver Cavanaugh, OFM, was born on Nov. 22, 1905 in Springfield, Mass. After graduating from Holy Cross College in Worchester, Mass., he entered St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, N.Y. While there, he met Fr. Lambert Zaleha, OFM, who was instrumental in Peter’s decision to join the friars. He entered the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1931, professing temporary vows one year later. He made his solemn profession and was ordained in 1934.
After eight years preaching with the Province’s Mission Band, he received permission to serve as a military chaplain in World War II. He was sent to the Pacific theater and became an itinerant preacher in Australia, Dutch New Guinea and Leyte in the Philippines. In 1945, Fr. Peter was awarded the bronze star for gallantry in action.
He returned to the Province to preach missions and retreats from 1947 to 1955, when he became chaplain to the Franciscan Brothers in Brooklyn, N.Y. In 1958, he was assigned to serve as chaplain at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in New York City, a ministry to which he devoted more than 20 years of his life.
He died on Feb. 26, 1989 at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J. Fr. Peter was 83 years old, a professed friar for 56 years and a priest for 54 years.