Patrick Michael Cushnahan was ordained a priest on his 32nd birthday in 1881. He immediately left his native Ireland for California, where the San Francisco archdiocese assigned him to Ogden. Father Cushnahan devoted the rest of his life to ministering to the Catholics – to anyone who needed him, really – of Utah.
In 1881, Cushnahan found only a handful of Catholics in Ogden, including a few Sisters of the Holy Cross who conducted the struggling Sacred Heart Academy. Cushnahan made his first home in one room of the small frame building used as a chapel. Over the next 25 years, Cushnahan built a new Sacred Heart Academy, a substantial church, a parish house, and St. Joseph’s School. Father Cushnahan became Monsignor Cushnahan in 1916 upon his appointments as vicar general of the Salt Lake Diocese.