Patrick's father wanted his children to be "free" rather than slaves, so he decided to send Patrick and his older brothers up North to be educated. They eventually enrolled at the Jesuit College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where all four young men converted to the Catholic faith of their father.
After graduation, Patrick entered the Jesuits. When his race became an issue in those pre-Civil War years, he as sent to Europe to study. He became the first African-American student to earn his doctorate at the University of Louvain in Belgium.
In 1864, Patrick became the first African-American Jesuit priest. Two years later, he returned to the United States where he taught philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
In 1874, Fr. Healy became the first African-American to head a major university when he was named the 29th president of Georgetown University.
Fr. Healy died on this day in 1910, and is buried in the Jesuit cemetery on the university's grounds.
- Little Black Book, Diocese of Saginaw