|Death: ||Aug. 15, 1963|
St. Louis City
"THE HOODLUM PRIEST"--NOTED CATHOLIC PRIEST, CRIMINAL REHABILITATION EXPERT, and PRISON CHAPLAIN.
FATHER CHARLES DISMAS CLARK, S.J., was a Jesuit Catholic priest who became nationally famous as "The Hoodlum Priest," the protagonist of a 1960's Hollywood movie of the same name (starring Hollywood actor Don Murray in the title role) describing the creation and development of his ministry--which included the rehabilitation of felons with the innovative programs of "Dismas House," a halfway house based in that city that has had great success in returning rehabilitated criminals to mainstream American society after their prison terms. (Dismas House, established in 1959, is still in operation today in St. Louis, MO at Cote Brilliante and North Kingshighway avenues).
A native of Pennsylvania from an Irish-American family of 13 children of a coal miner, Fr. Clark was ordained a Jesuit priest at St. Mary's, KS in 1932, and later was assigned to teach high school theology classes at St. Louis University High School in the mid-1930's. As a result of his later pastoral work and research, he and noted St. Louis area criminal lawyer Morris Shenker determined the present penal system was inadequate to rehabilitate recently released prisoners into society--and they mutually agreed to start Dismas House as a non-sectarian innovative program to transition newly released felons into mainstream society to help them find work, a place to live, and civilian living skills after their imprisonment had been served.
Father Clark remained in this ministry for most of his priestly life, dying in St. Louis on August 15, 1963. After a funeral Mass at St. Francis Xavier College Church, he had initially been interred at the St. Stanislaus Seminary Jesuit Cemetery in Florissant, MO (north of the city), which was relocated to Calvary Cemetery in the present Jesuit Plot in the late 1970's. Father Clark rests under a grey granite ledger stone noting only his birth and death years.
He is widely remembered today by many former rehabilitated convicts, attorneys, judges, political and civic leaders who recall his tremendous pioneering efforts, ministry and its subsequent success as a template for modern "halfway houses" in America--lauded by professional social workers, law enforcement authorities and jurists alike.
Note: Priest who was founder of DISMAS HOUSE and was main character for the 1963 movie, "The Hoodlum Priest" with actor Don Murray.
Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum
St. Louis City
Plot: Jesuit Plot, Calvary Cemetery
Created by: Max S. Kaiser, Jr.
Record added: Dec 14, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 10122492