For those with a general knowledge of "The Legend of Greenbush" the meaning behind the pilgrimage between Greenbush and Osage Mission - St. Paul is pretty clear. But the symbolism that compares it with the Jesuit missionary work in Southeast Kansas goes deeper.
The first — hopefully of many — Pilgrimage on the Plains is scheduled for tomorrow, September 14. Being scheduled the day before Greenbush Days might be a coincidence. If so it is a well timed coincidence. The Greenbush Historical Society has done a remarkable job of preserving their local history and these two events, together, seems like pretty good planning.
The Legend of Greenbush is the title of a book copyrighted by W. W. Graves in 1937. in his words it is "The story of how a hail storm catching a missionary priest alone on the prairie caused him to make a vow that if his life was spared, he would erect a church on the spot, and also how that became the beginning of one of the best country churches in Kansas."
Graves' book begins with the story of how Jesuit Father Philip Colleton kept his vow and built St. Aloysius Catholic Church. It goes on to tell much of the story of the Greenbush church and that community up until Graves published his book.
That story continues.
Those of us familiar with Greenbush realize there is much more to this tiny town than the row of houses (mostly O'Toole's) north of Highway 47; the Education Support Center  and historic buildings across the street. The Greenbush "community" is broadly dispersed among rural friends, education center employees, and an enthusiastic group of former residents that stretches across the nation. The Friends and Followers of Greenbush, Kansas, Are a Family.  If There is any doubt, come to the Greenbush Days celebration on Sunday, the 15th.
Symbolism Behind the Pilgrimage?
Greenbush (Hickory Creek) was only one of Father Colleton's mission stations. During his nine years at Osage Mission (1867 - 1876) he established at least thirty-five mission stations in an area bounded by Mount Vernon, Missouri, west to Pueblo, Colorado; and the Santa Fe Trail, south into northwest Arkansas. However, most of his work was done in the mining camps, small communities and railroad yards in southeast Kansas. Many of his mission stations grew into churches. Several of the churches sprouted Catholic schools.
Father Colleton wasn't the only one. Fathers Paul Ponziglione, Schoenmakers, John Bax, Philip Colleton and others served a very broad area with much of their work in the historical nine-county southeast county region. A few of their stations are listed here: 
When you think about it, the Pilgrimage on the Plains could represent many of the Osage Mission Jesuit trips into area settlements.
Some Reference Information:
1. Greenbush is the home of the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center. The center serves students and educators not only in southeast Kansas but statewide. Follow THIS LINK for more information.
2. It has occurred to us that expansion of Graves "Legend of Greenbush" might be a good project for a Historic Society. A new book, based on his original text, could pick up from where he left off in '37. The addition of the school, startup and growth of the Education Support Center, the cemetery, church and local community would be a valuable story for locals, former locals and historians in general. Might be a pretty good fund raiser too. Printing is expensive but e-books - not so much.
3. I received the photo of Father Philip from Tim Wenzl, archivist of the Dodge City Diocese. He received it from the Jesuit Archives, St. Louis.
4. In several cases the community listed does have a Catholic Church that was started several years after the Jesuit mission station.
5. For more information about Father Philip Colleton, follow THIS link. For more information about the wide-spread Jesuit missionary work done from Osage Mission, Kansas, follow THIS link.
Thoughts 'n Things
Some 'Thoughts' and short articles about past and present-day St. Paul and the Southern Kansas - 4 State Region.