BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
Fr. Aloysius Francis Powers, a priest of the Diocese of Owensboro, passed away on Sept. 4, 2019 at age 98. He was born in Daviess County on Jan. 4, 1921 to the late Joseph H. Powers, Sr., and Teresa M. McCarthy Powers.
Fr. Powers was raised in a large Catholic family of 12 children – seven girls and five boys – in a farming community in west Daviess County. Fr. Powers was the second-to-eldest boy, and the first of three of the Powers family’s sons to answer the call to the priesthood. (His brothers Msgr. Bernard Powers and Fr. Richard Powers were also ordained priests for the Diocese of Owensboro.)
Fr. Powers received his primary education at St. Elizabeth in Curdsville and entered St. Meinrad Seminary to study for the priesthood in 1935. He was ordained a priest for the diocese on April 5, 1948.
Sr. Jacinta Powers, OSU, was a niece of Fr. Powers. She said her uncle found “ways of preaching the Gospel not only in church but in an everyday way of living.”
“I remember him being a good man,” said Sr. Powers. “Joy was a part of his personality.”
Fr. Powers was one of nine priests and two religious sisters to come from the Powers and McCarthy families. Sr. Powers said she credits that to how the families raised their children.
“If you love your parents and they love you, you love what your parents love,” said Sr. Powers.
Fr. Powers’ first appointment was as an associate pastor at St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro, and then served as associate pastor of Sts. Joseph and Paul. He was then appointed pastor of St. Augustine in Reed and St. Mary Magdalene in Sorgho. Over the 71 years of his priesthood, Fr. Powers also served as pastor of St. Joseph in Mayfield, Sts. Joseph and Paul in Owensboro, St. Thomas More in Paducah, St. Ann in Morganfield, St. Pius X in Calvert City, St. Anthony in Grand Rivers and St. Elizabeth in Curdsville.
Msgr. Bernard Powers was ordained four years after his older brother Aloysius. For a number of years, Msgr. Powers was the associate pastor at Sts. Joseph and Paul when Fr. Powers was the pastor.
“He helped me, inspired me, challenged me,” said Msgr. Powers. He described his older brother as “a man of prayer, and had a great love for his people. He was very generous in helping those in need.”
Fr. Powers’ youngest sister, Maddalena Leach, was born when he was already in the seminary.
She recalled growing up and remembering her brother coming home for visits from the seminary. Leach said he would always visit their cousins – who lived across the field – and she would hear him walking home across the field, whistling.
“He was a very good person,” said Leach, who had kept for him a chasuble that their mother had made for him, complete with a picture of the Sacred Heart on the back. “We’ll sure miss him.”
Margaret O’Bryan, one of Fr. Powers’ other nieces, fondly recalled her uncle’s love of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which she would often pray with him.
“His devotion to it was quite outstanding,” said O’Bryan, adding that to her, Divine Mercy and her uncle “went hand-in-hand.”
Fr. Powers’ nephew, Tony Powers, said his uncle was “quite the historian” and could remember “any event in our family history.”
“You could ask him anything about life on the farm, family members, aunts, uncles and relatives near and far,” said Powers. “He would tell you about World War II, the 1937 flood that hit Owensboro and the surrounding area… Fr. Aloysius’ memory of his past 71 years as a priest, his parish assignments, the people he served – the man never forgot a face or a name. It was amazing.”
Powers said Fr. Powers came from a line of Knights of Columbus and was himself a fourth degree knight, having joined the knights in 1969 at Sorgho Council No. 6101. Fr. Powers then served as chaplain for Sorgho Council No. 6101, Paducah Council No. 1055 and Morganfield Council No. 1004. He served as state chaplain from 1978 to 1990.
A few years ago, Fr. Powers asked his nephew, Fr. Mike Clark of Blessed Mother Parish in Owensboro, if he could preach the homily at Fr. Powers’ funeral Mass.
“And I was floored,” said Fr. Clark in his homily at the Sept. 9, 2019 funeral liturgy at St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro. He remembered saying to his uncle, “What am I supposed to say, Fr. Al?”
“Preach the Gospel,” Fr. Powers had responded.
Fr. Clark asked Fr. Powers what specifically he wanted his nephew to remember about him when preaching his funeral homily. His uncle responded that the small details of his life did not matter.
“Fr. Mike, preach the Resurrection,” Fr. Powers had said.
Along with his parents, Fr. Powers was preceded in death by his sisters, Mary Agnes Powers, Patricia Garvin, Elizabeth M. Lattus, Celine M. Kahalle; and his brothers, Joseph H. Powers, Jr. and Robert A. Powers.
Fr. Powers is survived by his siblings, Msgr. Bernard A. Powers, Fr. Richard M. Powers, Martha M. Taylor (George), Mary T. Hayden (Don), and Maddalena Leach.
Following the Sept. 9, 2019 funeral liturgy, Fr. Powers was buried in the cemetery of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in Maple Mount.
Expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations to the Carmel Home, 2501 Old Hartford Rd., Owensboro, KY 42303 and the Knights of Columbus Owensboro Assembly #2074, 3540 E. 10th St., Owensboro, KY 42303.
Originally printed in the October 2019 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.
Copyright © 2019 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic