The Feast of Epiphany is officially Jan. 6. The Catholic Church now "transfers" the celebration to the Sunday before or after Jan. 6, usually to the Sunday that is closest to the actual date.


The Feast of Epiphany is officially Jan. 6. The Catholic Church now "transfers" the celebration to the Sunday before or after Jan. 6, usually to the Sunday that is closest to the actual date. Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas, celebrates the visit of the three kings or wise men to the Christ Child, signifying the extension of salvation to the Gentiles. What is the date of Epiphany 2012? Answer: In most countries, including the United States, the celebration of Epiphany in 2012 will be transferred to Sunday, Jan. 8. The Epiphany of the Lord is a Christian festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi.
In Leavenworth Holy Epiphany the first Roman Catholic Church for Black parishioners, was located on Pottawatomie Street between 6th and 7th Streets.

 

From “We Came North” by Sister Julia Gilmore, S.C.L: “As early as 1866 the Sisters taught Sunday school for the black people of Leavenworth.
Then with Sister Bonaventure Viven as teacher, a grade school was established for Catholic Negro children in September 1872, in a small brown house opposite the convent on Kickapoo Street.

 

As the custom prevailed of teaching boys and girls separately, a partition divided the classroom for about 35 girls and 25 boys. The establishment (1877) of Holy Epiphany parish brought the building of the first church for Negroes west of St. Louis, and the school transferred to the church basement; January moving saw school desks and other furnishings drawn by horse-sleigh to the new location. Sister Scholastica Hall then joined Sister Bonaventure teaching the Catholic and non- Catholic enrollees.
When the pastor, Father Huhn, opened an orphanage for Negro children (1888) he obtained four Oblate Sisters of Providence from Baltimore.
The Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first black religious order of nuns in the United States, was first founded in Baltimore, Md., in 1829.

 

A group of the Sisters took over the education of children at Holy Epiphany School, Leavenworth, Kan., in 1888. They later established an orphanage in Leavenworth adjacent to the Holy Epiphany Church. With their coming to the diocese, Holy Epiphany School was relinquished to them.  Holy Epiphany was both a Catholic Parish, Orphanage and a school for black students.
In a recent conversation with Alonzo Dougherty, who lived in the 600 block of Pottawatomie, he related the locations of buildings on Pottawatomie: on the corner of 7th Street, north side: first was a playground, then the grade-school building, then Holy Epiphany Catholic Church, next a Priests House, next the orphanage. Moving east was a small playground, then the Dougherty house, then the Julius Kaaz house, and last Holy Epiphany High School.
The Holy Epiphany Church- the church edifice was situated on Pottawatomie street, between Sixth and Seventh streets. The cornerstone was laid Sept. 29, 1878, and the building erected during the same fall. The dedicatory services occurred Aug. 20, 1879, and Rt. Rev. L. M. Fink gave the first confirmation, on the Nov. 15 of that year. The cost of the property, including grounds, was $3,500. Membership of the church at the time was 60. Rev. Martin Huhn was pastor. Msgr. Thomas J. Culhane served as administrator of Holy Epiphany Parish, Leavenworth, Jan. 1949 to Feb. 1953, while teaching and serving as athletic director at Immaculata High School.
The orphanage had a kitchen, and the basement below was connected to the church. This orphanage was for black girls. Boys lived at the Guardian Angles orphanage on Shrine Park Road, now in 2011, an apartment house. The boys were loaded on the back of a flatbed truck, and taken in all weather to the school on Pottawatomie.

 

From Looking Back – A pictorial History of Leavenworth, Fort Leavenworth and Lansing, Kansas by J. H. Johnston III: Holy Epiphany Church was established in 1877 on the north side of the 600 block of Pottawatomie to serve Leavenworth’s black Catholics. A school was opened in the church basement the same year. A frame house at 22nd and Dakota became the Guardian Angel Home, an orphanage.

 

The orphanage was moved to the Pottawatomie address in the late 1880s under the care of the Oblate Sisters of Providence of Baltimore, Md.
In 1899 40 children were moved into a new orphanage, the former home of Joseph Whitaker on Desoto Road (later 3735 Shrine Park Road) with wings added in 1903 and 1908. Holy Epiphany School and Guardian Angel Home remained there until the 1940s, when the residents were transferred to Saint Vincent’s Orphanage on South Forth Street.

 

The orphanage closed in 1960. The Shrine Park Road orphanage was sold in the late 1940s and remodeled into the Maple Heights Apartments.

Annie Johnston is a Leavenworth resident and wife of the late J.H. Johnston III, former Times publisher.