Reverend Water Hammon, O.F.M.

Preacher, Pastor, Writer

Walter Hammon was born in Philadelphia, PA on July 21st, 1894.  He was the son of William and Julia (Marrah) Hammon.  On August 12th, 1920, Fr. Mathias Faust received him into the Franciscan novitiate at Paterson, NJ.  He began his studies in philosophy in Croghan and continued with theology in Allegany, NY.  The St. Bonaventure Church in Allegany was the site of his ordination to the priesthood on May 29th, 1927.  Bishop Mark Gannon, D.D. of Erie was the ordaining prelate.

While a student at St. Bonaventure's College and Seminary he was instrumental in the construction of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.  

Soon after his ordination, he volunteered for the Chinese Mission.  Here Rev. Hammon was forced to hide in an attic for several months due to political upheaval which had major repercussions against western churches.  After living through this turmoil in China , permission was granted for him to return to the United States.

Since Fr. Hammon was a good public speaker, he served several years on the New York Missionary Band.  He then taught for a year at Callicoon.  In 1933, he was appointed pastor of St. Josephís Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  For four years, alongside his other duties, he redecorated and landscaped the grounds with beautiful flowers and shrubbery.  Between 1940 and 1946, in response to Bishop Peter L. Iretonís request for friars to work in the region, he performed pastoral duties in Emporia,VA.  After moving to Clarksville, VA in 1946, and despite constant difficulties in securing materials and labor, he erected a church and rectory for the growing Catholic population.  After the dedication of the building, he left for his new assignment at St. Francis Monastery in New York.  In 1949, he returned to Virginia for two years of duty.  In 1951, he was appointed provincial Archivist, with residence at Holy Name College in Washington, DC.  Here Fr. Hammon discovered numerous documents which were previously unknown.  He microfilmed all his findings and assembled a complete record of the history of the province.

In 1958, Rev. Walter Hammon, O.F.M. published The First Bonaventure Men.  The book marked the centennial of the founding of St. Bonaventure University.  The book traces the history of the college and seminary from its founding in 1856 to 1886.  It was published by St. Anthonyís Press.  The First Bonaventure Men is a skillfully written story.  It begins with Nicholas Devereux and Bishop Timon of Buffalo starting the college and leads into the series of administrators who saw St. Bonaventureís needs and directed it towards those ends.

Fr. Walter Hammon died after a long illness on February 24, 1959.

The Archives collection includes one box (.14 cu. ft.) of material related to Hammon's writing of The First Bonaventure Men including a typescript and correspondence relating to the publication of the book.

"Fr. Walter Hammon." The Provincial Annals (May 1959): 111-2.
Hammon, Walter, OFM.  The First Bonaventure Men. Paterson: St. Anthony's Pr., 1958.

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This site was created by Christopher Dianetti, intern in the St. Bonaventure University Archives located in Friedsam Memorial Library during the spring 2006 semester. 

Last updated: 30 August 2006