Davenport, Diocese of
DAVENPORT, DIOCESE OF
Suffragan of the metropolitan See of dubuque, the Diocese of Davenport (Davenportensis), was erected May 8, 1881, and embraced 22 counties in southeast Iowa, an area of 11,438 square miles. Approximately 15 percent of its population is Catholic. Prior to 1911, when the original diocese was divided to form the Des Moines diocese, Davenport included the four southern tiers of Iowa counties.
History. As part of the Diocese (now Archdiocese) of Dubuque from 1837, the Church in southern Iowa grew rapidly. In 1881 the new Davenport diocese included 70 priests, 56 churches with resident pastors, and a Catholic population of approximately 45,000. By 1911, when the diocese was divided, there were 151 priests, 117 churches with resident pastors, and a Catholic population of 75,997.
John McMullen, formerly vicar-general of Chicago, Ill., was consecrated first bishop of Davenport, July 25, 1881, and served until his death, July 4, 1883. A lasting achievement of his tenure was the establishment of St. Ambrose Preparatory Seminary and School of Commerce for young men in 1882. (In 1908, the seminary and school became St. Ambrose College, and in 1987, St. Ambrose University.) Henry Cosgrove, rector of St. Margaret's Cathedral, Davenport, succeeded him in 1884, thereby becoming the first American-born bishop west of the Mississippi. During his 22-year episcopate, Cosgrove directed the building of a new cathedral, Sacred Heart, and St. Vincent's orphanage. At his death, Dec. 22, 1906, he was succeeded by his coadjutor, Bp. James Davis, formerly a priest of the diocese. During the last two years of Davis's 20-year episcopate, which ended with his death, Dec. 2, 1926, auxiliary Bishop Edward D. Howard
assisted him. On July 25, 1927, Henry P. Rohlman was consecrated Davenport's fourth bishop and served until June 15, 1944, when he was appointed coadjutor-archbishop of Dubuque. Ralph L. Hayes, formerly bishop of Helena, Mont., and rector of the North American College, Rome, became bishop of Davenport Nov. 16, 1944. Bishop Gerald F. O'Keefe became the next bishop of Davenport in 1966, following the retirement of Bishop Hayes. Upon his retirement, Bishop O'Keefe was succeeded by Bishop William Franklin, Auxiliary Bishop of Dubuque, who was transferred to Davenport in 1994.
Bibliography: j. j. mcgovern, The Life and Writings of the Right Reverend John McMullen, D.D. (Chicago 1889). e. c. greer, Cork Hill Cathedral (Davenport 1957). m. m. schmidt, Seasons of Growth: History of the Diocese of Davenport, 1881–1981 (Davenport, Iowa 1981).
[w. f. dawson/eds.]