An Anniversary for Catholic Historians

Today marks the founding of the American Catholic Historical Association in Cleveland in 1919. It still serves as a national organization for scholars interested in Catholic Church history or Catholic aspects of secular history. The driving force behind its founding was Monsignor Peter Guilday (1884-1947), a Church History professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. [Read More...]

Meet the Barbers

John Adams said that Catholics were scarce as earth-quakes or comets in early America. Nowhere was this truer than in New Hampshire, where Catholics were banned from holding office until 1877. Yet it was here that one of the dramatic conversion stories ever ocurred. It began in 1817 when Virgil Horace Barber (1782-1847), an Episcopal [Read More...]

And While We’re on the Subject…

Today is also the Feast of St. Thomas Becket (1118?-1170), Archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered this day in 1170 in his own cathedral. King Henry II (1154-1189) wanted to strengthen his control over the Church, and in his friend Becket he thought he had a “yes man.” But he was soon surprised. The new [Read More...]

“He Has Seen Much Service.”

They really do go in threes. Today also marks the death of John Loughlin, Brooklyn’s first Bishop, in 1891 at age 74. Known as the “Good Old Man” among his priests, until his final illness he preferred to do all his work himself, without even a secretary. Some said he carried the Chancery around in [Read More...]

“Would to heaven that all the faiths had men like you.”

Today marks the death of Father Sylvester Malone (1821-1899), an Irish-born priest who served in Brooklyn for 55 years. His one and only assignment was at Saints Peter and Paul in Williamsburg, a parish he founded a few weeks after his ordination in 1844. A strong abolitionist, Malone is believed to have aided the Underground [Read More...]

“Ever Intemperate”: James A. McMaster (1820-1886)

Today marks the death of James Alphonsus McMaster (1820-1886), a giant in the nineteenth century Catholic press. Born in upstate New York, he converted to Catholicism as a young man and studied for the priesthood before becoming a journalist. In 1848 he took charge of the Freeman’s Journal, an independent Catholic newspaper based in New [Read More...]

Dorothy Day’s Conversion

This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Worker by Dorothy Day (1897-1980) and Peter Maurin. When Day died, one writer called her “the most significant, interesting and influential person in the history of American Catholicism.” The Catholic Worker, with its newspaper, soup kitchens and houses of hospitality, was an unprecedented [Read More...]

The One and Only

Today marks the birth of Michael Domenec, the one and only Bishop of the Diocese of Allegheny. Born in Spain, he joined the Vincentians and was ordained in 1839. He spent most of the next twenty years in America teaching seminarians, until he was named Pittsburgh’s second bishop. The first, Michael O’Connor, gave up his [Read More...]

The Bishop That Never Got Here

Today marks the birth of Richard Luke Concanen (1747-1810), an Irish Dominican who was appointed first Bishop of the Diocese of New York in April 1808. (Archdiocesan status was conferred in 1850.) Born in Roscommon, Concanen left Ireland at age seventeen to join the Dominicans. Ordained in 1770, for the next 38 years he worked [Read More...]

The Apostle of the German Immigrant

Today marks the birth of Father Johann Stefan Raffeiner (1785-1861), an apostle to the German immigrant in nineteenth century New York. Born in Austria, his studies for the priesthood were postponed by the Napoleonic Wars. He then studied medicine and served as a surgeon in the Austrian army. When peace came, he returned to the [Read More...]