Father Daniel Spillard, CSC (1839-1926)
He Responded to Whatever He Was Called to Do
Father Spillard’s life was identified with the early days at Notre Dame when he was prefect of discipline for a period of years, and when his humorous and pithy comments in the Black Book, the disciplinary record of the times, gave him some claim to local immortality. His record of service in the community reads like that of a soldier who was rushed from place to place to fill some breach in the lines. He came to Notre Dame from Elgin, Illinois, although he had been born in Cork, Ireland Nov. 8, 1839. He was graduated in the class of 1864, ordained in 1869 and that same year made Prefect of Discipline at Notre Dame.
During his time as Prefect, Notre Dame took a very firm stance on temperance, and Father Spillard expelled seven students for trying to smuggle whiskey onto the campus. Almost simultaneously, he was appointed pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in South Bend. In 1874 he was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Austin, Texas, and he also ran offense for Father Sorin as the two priests attempted to sever the congregation from St. Mary’s College in Galveston.
He returned to Notre Dame to serve as Master of Novices in 1883. In 1886 he was appointed superior of Holy Cross Seminary at Notre Dame, and in 1890 he was reappointed pastor of St. Patrick’s in South Bend. In 1893, he was named the superior of the Community House at Notre Dame, and he was also appointed as the Vice President of the University of Notre Dame, the Prefect of Religion and as a professor of Ecclesiastical History.
From 1896-1912, Father Spillard began his only long tenure of office as President of Holy Cross College and pastor of Sacred Heart Church both in New Orleans. He returned to Notre Dame in 1912 and acted as assistant chaplain at St. Mary’s through 1923. He then retired to the Community House where he died on February 12, 1926. (Adapted from Hope, Father Arthur Notre Dame—One Hundred Years)