The name of Bodkin is today a familiar and respected one in the medical profession in Brooklyn. So was the name of Dr. Dominic G. Bodkin in the last half of the 19th century. That he was selected by the Catholic laity of the Diocese to speak in their name at the observance of the golden jubilee of Bishop Loughlin’s ordination indicates his prominence in the life of the Church.
Born in County Galway, Ireland, May 15, 1833, Dr. Bodkin had already demonstrated the brilliance of his mind before coming to America at the age of 15. By the time he was nine he was familiar with the Latin and Greek classics. His later education was in the public schools of Manhattan and New York University Medical School. Before receiving his degree, however, he enlisted in the Union Army and served as surgeon during the Civil War, when medical knowledge was more necessary than the formality of a degree.
After the war, and his graduation as president of his class, Dr. Bodkin set up practice in Brooklyn at Cumberland St. and Greene Avenue. Eventually he opened an office at Sands and Jay Sts., which, as “the doctor’s house,” became a noted landmark. During his office hours, patients were not infrequently standing on the front porch awaiting their turn. For over 32 years he was the trusted friend of the poor— it was said that no one in actual distress ever appealed to him in vain. He was known to have taken blankets from his own bed and given them to those in need. He not only prescribed for families, but he also provided medicine, clothing, food and even coal for many of them.
A personal friend and physician of Bishop Loughlin, he was a member of the Catholic Benevolent Legion and the Knights of Columbus. He served on the staff of St. Mary’s Maternity Hospital, now part of Holy Family Hospital. His specialty was obstetrics—and at the time of his death it was estimated that he had brought 10,000 babies into the world. In the illness which preceded his death on January 26, 1902, he was cared for by the widow of his brother Lawrence, for he had never married.
One Hundredth Anniversary, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, 1853-1953 (Brooklyn: The Tablet Publishing Co., 1953), 124.