F. M. Verdan, pastor of all the Catholic churches of Chase and Marion counties, Kansas, was born in Savoy, France, and was the only one of a family of seven brothers to take up the work of the church and come to America. His younger brother became a noted surgeon in the French army and died in Africa when only twenty-six years of age. Father Verdan as a child was remarkably precocious. He could read as soon as he could talk, and at the age of nine years began his studies preparatory for entrance to the priesthood. He found no difficulty in keeping up with his classes, notwithstanding his youth, and was graduated from the highest institutions of learning in Paris. When twenty-six years of age he came to America and entered Notre Dame University, at South Bend, Ind., where he learned the English language. He afterward went to New Orleans and was a teacher of languages in St. Isadore College for eight months. He was then ordained to the priesthood and went to Montreal, Canada, where he remained only eight months, because of a loss of hearing in one ear. From there he came to Crawford county, Kansas, in 1881, and located first at Greenbush, but at the beginning of his pastorate a number of different small towns were included in his parish. A friend and a member of his church gave him a mule on which to make his pastoral calls, which necessarily extended to all parts of the entire county. He was very successful in that field of work, and on his transfer from Crawford county to Strong City, Kan., a Girard paper gave the following account of it:
"Friday, Jan. 24, 1908, when Father Verdan received the order from Bishop Hennessey, stating that he was to be transferred from the parish which he had built, and in which for over twenty-five years he had faithfully served as pastor and priest, he glanced back and thought of the remarkable changes that had taken place in that quarter of a century. In a vivid picture before him were the memories of the past. In his parish he had baptized 776; married 138 couples; prepared 552 members for confirmation and performed the last sacred rites of the church at the deaths of 218 members of his congregation. There was scarcely a family in his parish that the death angel had not visited. But now he is leaving this host of friends, the home and church which he built, to take up his labors in a new fieldsad indeedbut seeing his duty he obeyed the command promptly."
Father Verdan began his pastorate in Strong City, Jan. 29, 1908, and assumed charge of all the Catholic churches in Chase county, since which time he has built up the church in Strong City alone to about fifty families. In May, 1909, Marion county was added to his parish, and Father Verdan has organized and built up strong churches at the towns of Florence, Spring Branch and Burns. Though Father Verdan has been in charge of this parish but a short time he has already greatly endeared himself to all of his parishioners.Pages 787-788 from volume III, part 2 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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