Corrigan, Michael Augustine
CORRIGAN, MICHAEL AUGUSTINE
Sixth bishop and third archbishop of New York; b. Newark, N.J., Aug. 13, 1839; d. New York City, May 5,1902. He was the fifth among nine children of Thomas and Mary (English) Corrigan, immigrants from Ireland. After attending a private school kept by his godfather, Bernard Kearney, and St. Mary's College in Wilmington, Del., he graduated from Mt. St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Md., in 1859. He wanted to become a priest and, as he already possessed some linguistic skill acquired in a year of European travel (1857), he was sent to Rome by his bishop, James Roosevelt Bayley of Newark, as one of the original 12 students with whom the North American College opened on Dec. 8, 1859. Upon completion of his course in theology at the College of Propaganda, he was ordained in the Basilica of St. John Lateran on Sept. 19, 1863.
Early Career. A year later, after earning his doctorate in theology at the College of Propaganda, he returned to the Newark diocese to become successively professor of dogmatic theology and Sacred Scripture, director of the seminary and vice-president of the collegiate department, and president of Seton Hall College (now University) and Seminary, South Orange, N.J. With his brothers, Fathers James and George and Dr. Joseph, he did much to ensure the prosperity of Seton Hall generally, and of its library in particular. In 1868 he was also named vicargeneral; in this capacity he administered the diocese, coterminous with the state of New Jersey, during Bishop Bayley's attendance at Vatican Council I (1870) and upon the latter's translation to Baltimore (1872). Corrigan was then appointed to the See of Newark and consecrated on May 4, 1873, in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Newark, by Archbishop John McCloskey of New York.
For the next seven years, through diocesan synods, episcopal visitations, and annual parochial reports, he brought the spiritual and temporal affairs of his diocese into strict conformity with the decrees of the Plenary Councils of Baltimore. He devoted particular attention to the problems of Italian immigration. He also aided the Jesuit college, St. Peter's, in Jersey City; promoted the establishment of parochial schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other charitable institutions; encouraged the first pilgrimage of U.S. laymen to Rome (1874); and found time to pursue his favorite historical interests by beginning the systematization of the Baltimore archdiocesan archives.
Work in New York. On Oct. 1, 1880, Leo XIII appointed Corrigan titular archbishop of Petra and coadjutor, with right of succession, to Cardinal McCloskey of New York. Archbishop Corrigan was largely responsible for the preparation and conduct of the Fourth Provincial Council of New York (1883); he also visited Rome with other American archbishops to prepare the agenda of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884), at which he represented the cardinal. As McCloskey's agent, he succeeded, through President Chester Arthur and Secretary of State F. T. Frelinghuysen, in preventing confiscation by the Italian government of the North American College in Rome (1884). Upon the death of the cardinal (Oct. 10, 1885), he became archbishop of New York and was formally installed in St. Patrick's Cathedral on May 4, 1886. In November he summoned a diocesan synod to put into effect the legislation of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, one decree of which, concerning the necessity of establishing a church school in every American parish, formed part of the background of the severest trial of his episcopate.
Edward mcglynn, a fellow student of the archbishop in Rome and later rector of St. Stephen's Church in New York City, was an opponent of parochial schools. He had associated himself also with the land and tax theories of Henry George, whose candidacy for mayor of the city in 1886 he actively supported, despite the archbishop's prohibition. As a result of disobedience, McGlynn was repeatedly suspended and eventually removed from his pastorate. Subsequently summoned to Rome to account for his insubordination, McGlynn, upon the plea of ill health, refused to comply and incurred excommunication (July 4, 1887). Not until 1892, at a hearing in Washington before Archbishop Francesco Satolli, soon to become first apostolic delegate in the United States (1893), was the censure lifted; in 1895 Corrigan appointed McGlynn pastor of St. Mary's Church, Newburgh, N.Y.
The sensational aspects of the McGlynn affair, as well as the conservative stand of the archbishop on such issues as Irish nationalism, membership of Catholics in secret societies, the danger described in Europe as the heresy of americanism, and his lack of sympathy for Abp. John Ireland's faribault school experiment, over-shadowed in the public mind, for a time, Corrigan's solid and lasting contributions to his archdiocese. He remodeled and brought efficiency into its various departments, from chancery to charities, and gave special care to the problems of the fast-mounting Italian immigration. He completed the towers and interior furnishings of St. Patrick's Cathedral and began construction of its Lady chapel. Stressing consistently the importance of education and scholarship, he reorganized the archdiocesan school system; fostered the generally neglected work of the pioneer historian of the American Church, John Gilmary Shea, and the infant fortunes of the U.S. Catholic Historical Society; made plans for a preparatory seminary; and erected what was for its time a model seminary, St. Joseph's in Dunwoodie, Yonkers, N.Y. He was buried beneath the high altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Bibliography: Memorial of the Most Rev. M. A. Corrigan, j.m. farley et al., comps. (New York 1902). f. j. zwierlein, Letters of Archbishop Corrigan to Bishop McQuaid and Allied Documents (Rochester 1946). j. t. ellis, The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons, 2 v. (Milwaukee 1952). a. j. scanlan, St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, New York, 1896–1921 (New York 1922). r. d. cross, The Emergence of Liberal Catholicism in America (Cambridge, Mass.1958).
[j. a. reynolds]