Fr. Jerome Dawson, OFM
Fr. Jerome Dawson, OFM, was born on March 28, 1892, in Buffalo, N.Y., and grew up in the friars’ parish, St. Patrick’s. After graduating from the parish elementary school, he entered St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y.
Fr. Jerome was the first provincial minister to be formed within Holy Name Province after its foundation. He was received into the novitiate in 1912 at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., and professed temporary vows in 1913. In 1916, Fr. Jerome made his profession of solemn vows and was ordained a priest in 1919, after the flu epidemic had reduced his class to two.
As a young priest, Fr. Jerome returned to St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, where he served as a teacher of classical languages and prefect of discipline. In 1921, he was transferred to Paterson as assistant master of novices, taking over the responsibility of master the following year. He served in that position for 15 years, forming over 300 friars who entered the Province during that time. He was known as a strict disciplinarian who demanded unflinching obedience from his charges, but also as a tender caregiver in times of need.
While director of novices, Fr. Jerome served several terms on the Provincial Council and in 1937 was elected to the office of Provincial Minister, serving for six years. During his tenure, Siena College was opened in Loudonville, N.Y. He was known for his commitment to the missions in the southern United States, establishing parishes in Anderson and Greenville, S.C., as well as in Virginia and Georgia. Upon the outbreak of World War II, he released a large number of friars to serve as military chaplains, keeping in touch with each one of them through personal letters.
When his second term as Provincial Minister ended in 1943, he was unanimously chosen Custos (Provincial Vicar) of the Province, but died after a short illness in St. Clare’s Hospital in New York City on June 25, 1945. He was 53 years old, a professed friar for 31 years and a priest for 25 years.