Stained glass windows brighten Scranton church with rays of faith

By Paul Schmidt

Stained glass windows donated by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Towle in 1941 still shine rays of light onto the congregation at St. Patrick Catholic Church, at Scranton.

Michael Towle, 1859-1943, who was born in Waterford, Ireland, was a parishioner at the St. Patrick parish at Scranton. He and his wife, Mary (O’Brien) Towle, had 12 children, who all had interesting lives and occupations, including World War I veterans, teacher, author and a nurse. Three of the girls became Catholic sisters, and one of the boys, George, became a priest and ultimately a monsignor.

An interesting fact about Father George was his service in the U.S. Army as a captain and chaplain at Fort Leavenworth. It was there he served as the chaplain for what was to become the last mass execution in the U.S. – seven young German prisoner of war submariners were hanged.

The incident is recounted in Martial Justice (1971) by Richard Whittingham, and was also the subject of a 1997 History Channel one-hour documentary.

The Towle family windows represent a significant Osage County Catholic family and an amazingly heart wrenching episode of war, religion and justice.

The windows are on either side of the chapel, with one showing the chiro on the throne with the crown; the one on the north side is dedicated to and features symbolism of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To see the windows, stop St. Patrick Church is at 302 S. Boyle St., Scranton, Kan.

Photos and information thanks to Paul Schmidt.


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