Henry Ganss

Henry G. Ganss – Window to History

July 26, 2017

The Reverend Dr. Henry G. Ganss.

Pastor of Saint Patrick parish in Carlisle, 1891-1910

Father Henry Ganss was born in Lancaster on February 22, 1855. He received his primary education at Saint Joseph in Lancaster where Father Neufeld recommended him to Saint Vincent Benedictine School in Latrobe where he would develop his musical talents. In 1876, Henry Ganss was one of three from Saint Vincent School to earn a doctorate of music. Two years later, he was ordained to the priesthood, with sponsorship from the Diocese of Harrisburg. In 1891, he came to Saint Patrick and immediately set to work on the construction of the Shrine Church on Pomfret Street which was dedicated on February 3, 1894. He also quickly became active in the Carlisle community. He served as a Trustee of the Hamilton Library and the Todd Hospital of Carlisle, plus sponsored and performed concerts in the Carlisle Opera House.  He composed many musical scores, among them, five Masses. Father Ganss was also a writer contributing to various clerical periodicals and journals. In 1895, he published the “History of Saint Patrick Church.” Father Ganss was responsible as pastor for the Catholic students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and became a strong and influential voice in the decisions by the Bureau of Indian affairs on the religious activities by the Catholic Church in government Indian Schools. He was also largely responsible for persuading then Mother Katharine Drexel, now Saint Katharine Drexel, to establish a convent in Carlisle. During the Carlisle Mission, her Sisters gave catechetical instruction to some 300 Catholic students attending the Indian School. They also conducted a small school for “colored” children. Father Ganss left Saint Patrick parish in 1910 to return to his home parish of Saint Mary’s in Lancaster and died two years later on Christmas Day 1912.

Image: Photo portrait of Rev. Henry G. Ganss, (16B-05-28 – CCHS Photo Archive).

This Window to History is on exhibit until January 2018.

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