Thomas Francis Lillis, coadjutor bishop of the Kansas City, Mo., diocese and formerly bishop of the Leavenworth diocese, is a commanding figure in the religious activity of the Roman Catholic church in Missouri and Kansas and has been a leader of great influence in the latter state. He was born at Lexington, Mo., March 3, 1862. His lather, James Lillis, was a native of County Clare, Ireland, and received his education in his native land. He came to America in 1850 and entered into business activity as a railroad contractor. Sections of the Missouri Pacific, the Chicago & Alton, and the Wabash railroads were built by him as were also the street railways of Kansas City, Mo., Omaha, Neb., and Denver, Col. His commercial and financial activities amassed him a large fortune and he became very prominent in railroad circles. He was police commissioner of Kansas City, Mo., three years under Governor Marmaduke. In Lexington, Mo., in 1860, he married Margaret Jordan, a native of County Cork, Ireland. The father died in 1898 and was buried in Mount St. Mary's cemetery, Kansas City, Mo., where beside him the mother was laid to rest in 1901. Their surviving children are: Katherine Agnes; Jere D.; May E., wife of Charles Murdock of Lafayette, Ind., banker and president and owner of the street railway lines in Lafayette and in South Bend, Ind.; and Rt. Rev. Thomas F. Lillis of this review.
Bishop Lillis was educated in the public schools of Lafayette county, Missouri, and at St. Benedict College, Atchison, Kan., and was prepared for the priesthood at Niagara University, Niagara Falls, N. Y., where he was graduated in 1885. He was ordained to the priesthood on Aug. 15, 1885, by Bishop John Hogan at the Catholic cathedral, Kansas City, Mo., and was assigned the parish at Shackleford, Mo. In 1887 he became rector of St. Patrick's church at Kansas City, Mo., in which capacity he served until consecrated bishop of Leavenworth on Dec. 22, 1904, and installed in the cathedral at Leavenworth on Jan. 2, 1905. At the request of the bishops of the province of St. Louis and of the priests of the Kansas City diocese to the Apostolic see, Bishop Lillis was appointed coadjutor bishop to the Rt. Rev. John Hogan, to succeed Bishop Hogan at the latter's death. Rising from the simple priesthood which he adorned with all the kindly graces of the best type of the Catholic clergy, he has attained the higher honors and broader responsibilities of the prelacy, for which he is ideally qualified by great endowments of head and heart. It is peculiarly fitting that Bishop Lillis should be chosen to administer the ecclesiastical affairs of the same community in which he began his work for the church. Though a stanch churchman, he is devoid of that narrowness of view which is often manifested among church functionaries, and is thereby of commanding influence in the cause of denominational amity in religious matters and in those secular relations of coöperative citizenship even more broadly important. He is a man of warm heart and genuine human sympathy, yet he is a rigorous supporter of law and order and stands for the furtherance of all causes of civic enterprises affecting the higher interests of the community.Pages 52-53 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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