Church History

John Cardinal McCloskey

John_Cardinal_McCloskey_-_Brady-Handy

With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last week, attention is turning to the conclave in March.  I thought this would be a good time to recall the first American eligible to participate in a conclave:  John Cardinal McCloskey, the first American cardinal.

Born on March 10, 1810 to Irish immigrants in Brooklyn, New York when he was seventeen he had a life altering accident.  Driving a team of oxen pulling a wagon full of heavy logs, the wagon overturned and buried John beneath the logs for several hours.  For the next few days he drifted in and out of consciousness and was blind.  He recovered his sight, but his health was permanently damaged by the accident.  Out of his travail he decided to become a priest.  He was ordained a priest of the diocese of New York in 1834.  He wanted to minister to the victims of a cholera epidemic, but his bishop, recognizing rare ability in the young priest, ordered him to Rome where he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of the Sapienza.  Upon his return to America he was appointed pastor of Saint Joseph’s in Greenwich Village where he served from 1837-1844.  Homeless children were a special concern of his while he served as pastor.  He also served as the first president of Saint John’s College at Fordham from 1841-42.  In 1843 at the age of 33 he was appointed coadjutor Bishop of New York.  During this time period he was instrumental in the conversion of Isaac Hecker who eventually became a priest and founded the Paulist Fathers.

He was appointed first bishop of the newly created diocese of Albany in 1847.  During his tenure he founded three academies for boys and one for girls, four orphanages, fifteen parochial schools and a seminary.  He was instrumental in bringing many religious orders into the diocese.  With the death of Archbishop John “Dagger John” Hughes, he was, over his protests of unworthiness and unfitness, appointed the second Archbishop of New York.    The type of man he was may be measured by his delivering  the opening sermon of the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore, in spite of being informed just moments before that Saint Patrick’s had been gutted by fire.  He rebuilt Saint Patrick’s and in 1870 participated in the First Vatican Council.  Pio Nono must have taken note of him, because in 1875 he made him the first American cardinal.  The new cardinal attributed his red hat to no merit of his: “Not to my poor merits but to those of the young and already vigorous and most flourishing Catholic Church of America has this honor been given by the Supreme Pontiff. Nor am I unaware that, when the Holy Father determined to confer me this honor he had regard to the dignity of the See of New York, to the merits and devotion of the venerable clergy and numerous laity, and that he had in mind even the eminent rank of this great city and the glorious American nation.” Continue reading

So many books! So little time!

So many books! So little time! And, unfortunately, not enough to afford them all. Erasmus’ motto, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes” worked during college, but is hard to get away with once you’re married with children and have a spouse to answer to. =)

We’ve heard much lately of Pope Benedict’s interview with Peter Seewald: Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times, regarding which Ignatius Press’ Carl Olson has been doing a magnificent job rounding up reviews and discussion across the web; and George Weigel’s “sequel” to his reknowned autobiography of John Paul II: The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, and Patrick W. Carey’s biography Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian.

Here are a few more on the horizon that might be of interest to our readers (and which are definitely on my “to read” list from 2010). Continue reading

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