“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...]

Anna Hanson Dorsey, Novelist and Laetare Medal Receipient

Today marks the death of Anna Hanson Dorsey (1815-1896), one of the first recipients of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, since 1883 awarded to lay people “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” (This year’s recipient was Martin Sheen.) Descended from a prominent [Read More...]

Women Jesuits

On Christmas Day in 1545 three women took Jesuit vows: Isabel Roser, a Spanish noblewoman; her lady-in-waiting Francisca Cruyllas; and Isabel’s friend Lucrezia di Bradine. The order founded by St. Ignatius Loyola was only five years old, and Isabel had been one of its biggest benefactors from the start. But Ignatius wasn’t willing to grant [Read More...]

“A Woman of Action”

Today marks the birth of Mother Delphine Fontbonne (1813-1856), foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. Born in France, she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph at age nineteen. By the time she showed up, the community had become almost a family business. One of her sisters was a Sister, and so were [Read More...]

Native American Baseball Pioneer had Jesuit Connections

Louis Francis Sockalexis (1871-1913), known as “Chief,” wasn’t the first Native American to play in the major leagues (that honor goes to James Madison Toy in 1887), but he was the most famous in the game’s early years. Raised Catholic on the Penobscot Indian Reservation in Maine, a Jesuit working at the reservation put him [Read More...]