Cincinnati, Archdiocese of
CINCINNATI, ARCHDIOCESE OF
Metropolitan see of the Province of Cincinnati (Cincinnatensis ); comprising 19 counties in southwest Ohio, an area of 8,543 square miles, with a 20 percent Catholic population. The province, encompasses five suffragan sees: Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Youngstown, and Steubenville. Cincinnati was designated a diocese on June 19, 1821—two years after the first permanent church was built on the northern edge of town—and an archdiocese on July 19, 1850. The diocese originally included the entire state of Ohio, plus Michigan and the Old Northwest. The latter became part of the Diocese of Detroit, erected in 1833. The northern reaches of Ohio became the Diocese of Cleveland in 1847 and the southeastern section the Diocese of Columbus in 1868. Toledo became a diocese in 1910, Youngstown in 1943 and Steubenville in 1944.
Early history. The territory was included in the immense Quebec diocese until Cincinnati became part of the prefecture apostolic of the new American republic in 1785. It was folded into the first U.S. see, Baltimore, in 1789, a year after colonists from Massachusetts made the first permanent settlement in Ohio at Marietta. French Catholics settled at Gallipolis in southeastern Ohio, where Peter Joseph Didier, OSB, served them for a few years until he left the colony in discouragement. The few Catholics who settled in the area looked to the occasional missionary journeys of priests from Kentucky for the sacraments. Among those priests was Edward Dominic fenwick, O.P., one of the founders of the first Dominican house in the U.S., near Springfield, Ky.
Diocese. Pope Pius VII recognized the needs of the increasing Catholic population in Ohio by erecting the Diocese of Cincinnati and appointing Fenwick as its first bishop.
Fenwick. Bishop Benedict Flaget consecrated Fenwick at St. Rose Priory in Washington County, Ky., on Jan. l3, 1822. The new bishop took up residence in a small rented house in Cincinnati on March 23, 1822. He moved the only church building in the community from what is today Liberty and Vine Streets (the current site of St. Francis Seraph Church) to Sixth and Sycamore Streets (the current site of St. Francis Xavier Church). He changed its name from Christ Church to St. Peter's Cathedral.
When this change of location caused controversy with members of the congregation who had built the church, the bishop demanded the transfer of the property title to himself. Later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome settled a problem concerning the property acquired by Dominican priests working in Ohio and held in the name of the Dominican Order. The Congregation ordered a separation of diocesan and Dominican property. The agreement signed in 1828 provided that Fenwick was to hold diocesan property in the name of the diocese and willed to his successor in the see of Cincinnati. This practice of holding diocesan property in the name of the bishop, which spread throughout the Old Northwest, was largely responsible for the fact that trusteeism never became a serious problem for the Church in those states.
Fenwick went to Europe in 1823 to secure money and personnel for the 6,000 Catholics of his diocese, mostly German but many of them Swiss or Irish. He obtained substantial contributions from Pope Leo XII, from the Lyons Association of the Propagation of the Faith, and from collections in Belgium, Holland, and England.
When he returned with five recruits for the Diocese of Cincinnati—four priests and one French Sister of Mercy—he found that a new episcopal residence had been built in his absence. He dedicated a new St. Peter's Cathedral at Sixth and Sycamore on Dec. 17, 1826 and opened a theological seminary, St. Francis Xavier, next door with an enrollment of ten students on May 11, 1829.
In Baltimore in 1829 for the First Provincial Council, Fenwick secured the services of four Dominican Sisters for Somerset and four Sisters of Charity of Emmitsburg for Cincinnati. Fenwick's regular missionary journeys on horseback throughout the diocese resulted in numerous conversions and the establishment of many parishes in missions—St. Martin's in Brown County in 1830 and St. Stephen's in Hamilton in 1831. His success provoked attacks in the Protestant press and pulpit. In response, Fenwick founded a weekly newspaper for the Diocese. The Catholic Telegraph began publishing in October 1831 and remains the oldest continuously published Catholic newspaper in the United States. Ill health caused Fenwick to ask Rome four times for a coadjutor bishop, but he never got one. Fenwick died in Wooster, Ohio, on Sept. 26, 1832 during a mission trip through Ohio and the Northwest.
Purcell. Pope Gregory XVI named John Baptist purcell, president of Mount St. Mary College in Emmitsburg, Md., as the second bishop of Cincinnati on May 12, 1833. He was consecrated in Baltimore on Oct. 13, 1833, attended the Second Provincial Council of baltimore, then traveled west to his diocese by stage and steamboat. Bishop Flaget installed him at St. Peter's Cathedral on Nov. l4, 1833.
Purcell's first concern was to follow the will of his predecessor regarding the division of diocesan and Dominican property. Following his negotiations with the Dominicans, seven of the 16 churches in Ohio were named as diocesan, nine as Dominican property. The new bishop also lost no time in beginning the series of annual missionary visitations for which his episcopate was noted, and which were responsible for a considerable part of the steady growth of Catholicism in the diocese. He made seven European trips between 1838 and 1869 to help supply the vocational and financial needs of the diocese. On Nov. 2, 1845, he consecrated a new Cathedral at Eighth and Plum Streets under the patronage of St. Peter in Chains.
Archdiocese. Cincinnati was raised to the rank of metropolitan see in 1850. Archbishop Purcell received the pallium when he visited Rome the following year. The new archbishop frequently defended the immigrant church against nativist attacks in debates and appearances in Protestant churches in the early 1850s. But on the secession controversy that preceded the Civil War, the archdiocese remained officially silent. With the outbreak of hostilities, Purcell and The Catholic Telegraph became strongly Unionist. The Catholic population largely supported Lincoln's administration and helped to supply the military needs of the North. Women religious made their contribution in nursing service—Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Mercy and Franciscan Sisters. Sister of Charity Anthony O'Connell was known as "angel of the battlefield" for her works of mercy among the troops. Part of the House of Mercy became a hospital and prisoner-of war encampment. Catholic loyalty during the war years did much to overcome earlier anti-Catholic sentiment among nativist non-Catholics.
Like Fenwick before him, Purcell was a tireless traveler within his own vast diocese and in Europe, making seven trips abroad in search of money and people. Both men and women religious orders responded generously. The Jesuits, Franciscans, Precious Blood Fathers, Passionists, and Marianists established houses and institutions in the archdiocese in response to his efforts. Women religious orders that answered his call included the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Precious Blood Sisters, Ursuline Sisters, Good Shepherd Sisters, Notre Dame Sisters of Mauhausen, Little Sisters of the Poor and the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis.
Unfortunately, Purcell's name was tainted by the "Purcell failure" that rocked the archdiocese near the end of his long tenure. When the panic of 1837 weakened state banks, Father Edward Purcell, brother of the bishop, began an informal banking operation based at the cathedral. Catholic immigrants, largely ignorant of financial matters and mistrusting banks, turned in increasing numbers to "Father Purcell's Bank." Following the great national panic of 1873, a run on the money deposited with Purcell depleted available funds. An examination found the bank to be insolvent, largely because of Father Purcell's inefficient operation. All of the resources of the bank were assigned to Edward B. Mannix, together with diocesan property estimated as sufficient to cover all liabilities. The estimates were wrong. There was not enough money to go around. Litigation kept the issue alive in state and federal courts from 1880 to 1905. Voluntary contributions from the priests and people of the archdiocese—and from other dioceses throughout the U.S.—helped to pay the bank's creditors.
Although their bitter critics acknowledged that neither Archbishop Purcell nor his brother profited from the failed bank, nevertheless the Purcell failure did great harm to the archdiocese. Its effects included losses and consequent hardships for many poor depositors, abandonment of the faith by many scandalized Catholics, temporary difficulty in effecting conversions to the faith, the closing of the seminary for a time, and the inability to promote the material growth of the archdiocese until the eve of World War I.
On Jan. 3, 1880, as the scandal enveloped the archdiocese, Rome appointed Bishop William H. elder of Natchez as coadjutor with right of succession. Purcell's ill health and advanced age (80) caused him to turn over the administration of the diocese to Elder in April 1880, three years before his death on July 4, 1883.
Elder. Burdened with the need to resolve the continuing lawsuits and bring healing to the archdiocese, Elder labored under the shadow of the Purcell failure for his entire episcopate. Nevertheless, he managed to orchestrate a significant reorganization of the archdiocesan administration. He established a chancery, canonical courts, advisory bodies, and compulsory annual reports from ecclesiastical institutions. He also established 32 new parishes and missions and, in 1890, St. Gregory's minor seminary. Slowed by age and physical infirmities in his 80s, he requested a coadjutor. On April 27, 1903, Rome appointed Cincinnati native Henry Moeller, bishop of Columbus, as coadjutor with right of succession.
Moeller. Moeller became archbishop upon Elder's death on Oct. 31, 1904. The new archbishop, who had been associated with the administrative work of the archdiocese, continued the important work of reorganization. Early in his tenure the final resolution of litigation related to the Purcell failure cleared the way for growth of parishes and institutions. He presided over the founding of the Fenwick Club, a hotel and center for Catholic men; St. Rita's School for the Deaf; a diocesan bureau of Catholic Charities; and the establishment in Cincinnati of the national headquarters for Catholic Charities and the Catholic Students Mission Crusade. In 1906, Moeller appointed the first archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools and organized the first board of education. At his death on Jan. 5, 1925, Moeller's work to extend the diocesan school system was well under way.
McNicholas. A quarter-century of extraordinary growth began with the appointment of Bishop John t. mcnicholas, O.P., of Duluth, Minn., to the see of Cincinnati on July 15, 1925. The period saw 50 new parishes established, the number of high schools increased to 28, a doubling in the number of priests working the archdiocese, numerous mission chapels constructed in rural areas and administered by seminary professors until they required parochial status, and more than 100 diocesan priests educated in postgraduate programs in order to staff the diocesan agencies and educational institutions. New religious orders came to the archdiocese, including the Home Missionary Society for the United States (Glenmary). Seeing the need for organized youth activities on a diocesan basis, McNicholas established the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and the National Federation of Catholic College Students and developed the Fort Scott Camps. He undertook an apostolate for African Americans, building or converting 12 parishes for its work and founding two high schools for its special needs. He created an annual Holy Name parade at which Catholic men demonstrated their faith each October. In 1936, McNicholas welcomed to Cincinnati a future pope, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (Pius XII), for the dedication of Cardinal Pacelli School at Our Lord Christ the King parish. Because of the decay in the basin of the city where it was located, McNicholas abandoned St. Peter in Chains and created St. Monica's Church as a pro-cathedral in 1937. McNicholas became a strong voice of the American church, often influencing the stance of the U.S. bishops with his many public statements and radio broadcasts. The approach of the centenary of the archdiocese found McNicholas in poor health. His death on April 22, 1950 prevented his celebration of this event and of his 25th year as archbishop.
Alter. The appointment of Bishop Karl J. Alter of Toledo, Ohio, to Cincinnati continued a period of marked progress as he saw the church through the dynamic postwar and early post-Vatican II periods. A boom in population and the curtailment of construction during the depression and war years had left a backlog of building for the archdiocese to do. Alter directed a program of 350 archdiocesan and parish projects costing a total of $60 million. The most notable single work was the remodeling and reconstruction of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains and its reconstitution as the cathedral of the archdiocese—a project that sparked the renewal of downtown Cincinnati. The restored cathedral was rededicated in November 1957 before the largest assemblage of the hierarchy and clergy in the history of the archdiocese. A second major project was the completion of St. Gregory preparatory seminary, in part made necessary by a fire that destroyed the south wing on the night of Good Friday, 1956. Alter participated in the preparation of Vatican II and attended all of the sessions. He began the implementation of its documents and its spirit with great enthusiasm. He established a presbyteral council, an archdiocesan pastoral council and parish councils, and formed commissions for ecumenism, poverty and human rights.
As the stresses of the 1960s reached Cincinnati, Alter wrote pastoral letters on inter-racial justice, the removal of discrimination in employment, voting rights and education. He supported Project Commitment, a major program on race relations. Organized by lay men and women with Protestant and Jewish participation, the project proved to be a valuable effort for inter-racial peace following Martin Luther King's murder. A leader in the national church on socio-economic issues, Alter in 1968 responded to the national urban crisis by pledging $1.25 million to help fund Catholic and ecumenical programs on race and poverty. The archdiocese under Alter also supported the creation of the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati, an inter-faith social justice organization of which the archdiocese remains the biggest funding source. A strong supporter of ecumenism, Alter presided in January 1967 at the first ecumenical service ever held at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. He retired on July 23, 1969 and died on Aug. 23, 1977, outliving his successor. Both commanding and pastoral, Alter is remembered as the last great "prince" of the old style in the Cincinnati hierarchy.
Leibold. Pope Paul VI named Bishop Paul F. Leibold of Evansville, a native of Dayton and a former auxiliary bishop of Cincinnati, to succeed Alter. He was installed on July 23, 1969. At a time of perplexing change and confusion in the church and in the world, Leibold devoted his episcopacy to education, social action and ecumenism. He encouraged the organization of the Black Catholic Caucus and named members of the caucus to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. His greatest achievement was the Sixth Synod of the Archdiocese, held in 1971. Unlike previous diocesan synods, which were limited to priests, this synod also involved religious and lay men and women of the archdiocese. After a year of preparation, over 3,000 delegates gathered in assembly and voted upon documents that provided new guidelines for the life of the archdiocese. Leibold accepted these documents in an October 1971 Mass celebrating the 150th anniversary of the archdiocese. But Leibold died unexpectedly on June 1, 1972 and never lived to see the synod implemented.
Bernardin. Bishop Joseph L. bernardin, the 44-year-old general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, became the youngest archbishop in the United States upon his installation as archbishop of Cincinnati on Nov. 21, 1972. In contrast to the historical situation enjoyed by many of his predecessors, it was not a time of great growth for the church in the U.S. Mass attendance was in decline. Many priests and religious left active ministry. The minor seminary, St. Gregory's, closed. Bernardin responded to the changing circumstances with great skill. He was an efficient and effective administrator who consolidated most of the offices of the archdiocese in a single building. Even as Archbishop of Cincinnati, his quiet voice of reason made him a major figure in the church nationally and internationally. He was president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1974 to 1977. In 1974, 1977, 1980 and 1983 his fellow U.S. bishops named him a delegate to the World Synod of Bishops in Rome. Pope John Paul II, who as a cardinal had visited Bernardin in Cincinnati in 1976, appointed him archbishop of Chicago on July 10, 1982 and created him a cardinal the following year. Bernardin's last years were a model of grace under pressure. When a former seminarian from Cincinnati—a young man dying of AIDS—in 1993 accused Bernardin of sexually abusing him while archbishop of Cincinnati, the cardinal defended himself with disarming simplicity and a refusal to counterattack. After the accuser recanted his allegation the following year, Bernardin privately celebrated Mass with him in a liturgy of forgiveness and reconciliation. Less than two years later, Bernardin died on Nov. 14, 1996 after a very public and courageous battle with cancer.
Pilarczyk. Daniel E. Pilarczyk, auxiliary bishop and director of educational services for the archdiocese, was installed as archbishop on Dec. 20, 1982. He provided steady leadership in the local and national church at a time of uncertainty. Facing the new reality of relatively fewer priests and more faithful, Pilarczyk has fostered long-range planning processes, encouraged cooperation among parishes and expanded the concept of church ministry, especially in parishes. A former seminary professor of theology and rector, the Dayton, Ohio native strengthened seminary and other ministry training programs. The decline in priestly vocations was turned around during his tenure. Pilarczyk also has strongly supported Catholic schools, especially in the inner-city where the Catholic Inner-City School Education Fund raises more than $1 million a year for scholarships. One of his chief interests is adult faith formation, which he has fostered through The Catholic Telegraph, the official archdiocesan newspaper, and an initiative to add faith formation to all meetings throughout the archdiocese. Pilarczyk was vice president (1986–1989) and president (1989–1992) of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has written more than 11 books aimed at general audiences, and is highly regarded throughout the country for his theological acumen.
Institutional Development. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati held formal synods in 1865, 1886, 1898, 1920, 1954, and 1971. Decrees affecting the development of the parochial system of education became patterns for similar legislation in other dioceses in the U.S. The provincial councils of 1855, 1858, 1861, 1882 and 1889 enacted legislation to secure conformity throughout the province in disciplinary or procedural concerns.
The archdiocese has had nine auxiliary bishops: Sylvester H. Rosecrans (1862–68); Joseph H. Albers (1929–37), later bishop of Lansing, Mich.; George J. Rehring (1937–1950), later bishop of Toledo, Ohio; Clarence G. Issenbaum (1954–1957), later bishop of Columbus, Ohio; Paul F. Leibold (1958–1965), later bishop of Evansville and archbishop of Cincinnati; Edward A. McCarthy, (1965–1969), later archbishop of Miami; Nicholas T. Elko (1971–1985); Daniel E. Pilarczyk, (1974–1982), later archbishop of Cincinnati; James A. Garland (1985–1992), later bishop of Marquette, Mich.; and Carl K. Moeddel (1993–).
Educational Development. Even in the early missionary years of Cincinnati the objective was a school in every parish. This was realized to a considerable degree in the 16 parishes established during Fenwick's episcopacy. It became the common practice under Purcell to open church and school simultaneously. Purcell's success in bringing teaching communities to the archdiocese is one of the most significant factors in the developing parochial school system. The Sister of Notre Dame de Namur began their work in 1940, the Franciscan Fathers and Brothers in 1844, the Ursulines in 1845, the Brothers of Mary in 1849, the Sisters of Mercy in 1858, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1869, the Franciscan Sisters in 1876, and the Sisters of Christian Charity in 1881. By the end of Purcell's episcopate, the parochial school system was so generally established that his successor, Elder, could promulgate regulations for compulsory attendance at Catholic schools. During the same period, schools were attached to orphanages and convents as well.
The need for control and organization at the archdiocesan level caused Moeller to establish an archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools. The first report from this office in 1908 listed 27,233 students in attendance at 110 schools. Almost a hundred years later, at the beginning of the 21st century, the Catholic school system in Cincinnati remains strong. Although the archdiocese is only the 26th largest diocese in the U.S., its school system is the ninth largest—41,106 students in 114 elementary schools and 12,051 students in 22 high schools in the 2001–2002 school year.
In higher education, the archdiocese established a teachers college in 1928. Although primarily intended for teaching communities of sisters, the program attracted lay teachers, seminarians, and priests as well. The Athenaeum of Ohio was incorporated in 1928 with a board headed by the archbishop for the supervision of all Catholic colleges, seminaries, high schools and other institutions of higher learning. Today the Athenaeum has three divisions: Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West, the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program (LPMP), and Special Studies. LPMP, founded in 1975 as a pioneering center for lay education and formation for ministry, is the biggest of the three programs. Special Studies includes formation for the diaconate.
Other Catholic institutions of higher learning in the archdiocese include Xavier University (operated by the Jesuits), the University of Dayton (Marianists), the College of Mount St. Joseph (Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati), and Chatfield College (Sisters of St. Ursuline of Brown County).
Bibliography: e. a. connaughton, A History of Educational Legislation and Administration in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (Washington 1946). j. h. lamott, History of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 1821–1921 (New York 1921). v. f. o'daniel, The Right Reverend Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P., First Bishop of Cincinnati (Washington 1920). k. j. alter, The Mind of an Archbishop: A Study of Man's Essential Relationship to God, Church, Country and Fellow Men, ed. m. e. reardon (Paterson 1960). j. bernardin, The Gift of Peace: Personal Reflections (Chicago 1997).