Father Michael P. Stack
Fr. Michael P. Stack was the pastor of the Church of the Annunciation in Williamsport, PA at the time of the founding of the Diocese of Scranton. From his appointment to Annunciation Parish at the age of twenty-three, Stack’s youth and charm helped to disarm the leadership of the different factions present in the parish. From this he was able to construct a new church for the parish which his predecessor had not been able to do. The congregation had finished the new church in time for the arrival of Bishop O’Hara to the area.
Fr. Stack’s inexperience began to show soon after the completion of the new church. Many members of the congregation began to complain to the Diocese when they realized Fr. Stack’s administrative inadequacies. Stack lacked the ability to manage the finances of the parish correctly. On November 5, 1871, Bishop O’Hara removed Fr. Stack from his position at Annunciation parish. Stack was to deliver all of the property and the records of the parish to Fr. John Koeper of St. Boniface Church. Stack appeared to comply with this order until November 26, when he reopened the church and announced to the congregation that he would take Bishop O’Hara to court over being illegally removed from his position.
Bishop O’Hara was served court papers on December 2, 1871. The resulting verdict of the Lycoming County Common Pleas Court on December 21st was in Fr. Stack’s favor. Bishop O’Hara appealed the decision and after seven more key legal battles, a final decision was rendered. On December 3, 1881, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decreed that Bishop O’Hara had the right to “administer the Diocese of Scranton and each of its parishes in accordance with the laws and the traditions of the Catholic Church.”
Fr. Stack in 1882 received a release from the Diocese of Scranton in order to pursue life elsewhere. Six years later he returned to the Diocese since he had been unable to develop a new career. Fr. Stack was offered by Bishop O’Hara the opportunity to retire to a monastery with the Diocese paying the expenses. He refused and little was heard of him again until around Christmas of 1888. Fr. Stack had fallen seriously ill and was at Lackawanna Hospital. Bishop O’Hara instructed a pastor to attend to Fr. Stack’s needs on a daily basis. Fr. Michael P. Stack passed away on February 12, 1889.