Second archbishop of st. paul, Minn.; b. New York City, April 6, 1868; d. St. Paul, Oct. 31, 1930. His parents, Daniel and Mary Teresa (Santry) Dowling, emigrants from Ireland, moved their family to Newport, R.I., where Austin attended the Academy of the Sisters of Charity. In 1887 he graduated with honors from Manhattan College, New York City; entered St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Mass.; and in 1890 was sent to The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., to complete his studies in theology. He was ordained for the Diocese of Providence, R.I., June 24, 1891, by Matthew Harkins, Bishop of Providence. A year later he received his licentiate in theology from The Catholic University, then served briefly as a curate in a Providence parish, after which he taught church history at St. John's Seminary in Brighton until 1896, when he became editor of the Providence Visitor, the diocesan newspaper. From 1898 to 1905 he did pastoral work in Providence and Warren, R.I., and on July 3, 1905, was named rector of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Providence.
When des moines, Iowa, was erected a diocese in 1911, Dowling was named first bishop and consecrated in Providence April 25, 1912. During his seven-year tenure in Des Moines, then a small rural diocese with but few priests to minister to large areas, Dowling worked constantly to build an extensive diocesan system of Catholic schools. Early in 1919 he was named to succeed John ireland as the second archbishop of St. Paul. After his installation in the Cathedral of St. Paul on March 25, he received the pallium in formal ceremonies on May 27 at the hands of his old friend, Abp. James J. keane of Dubuque, Iowa. In the same year Dowling helped to organize the national catholic welfare conference and was elected to its first administrative board, which he served as treasurer and as chairman of the department of education. He also organized and incorporated a bureau of Catholic charities in each of the Twin Cities during his first year in office. In September 1919 he announced a diocesan-wide drive for the Archbishop Ireland Educational Fund, with a goal of five million dollars. Although the goal was never fully realized, Dowling considered this drive one of his lasting achievements. Its revenue was used to construct Nazareth Hall, a new diocesan preparatory seminary built in 1922 to 1923, Cretin High School in St. Paul, and De La Salle High School in Minneapolis, and to open a diocesan teachers college for sisters and lay teachers in 1925 (discontinued in September 1950). On July 9, 1928, Dowling transferred the College of st. thomas, founded in 1885 by Archbishop Ireland, from the control of diocesan priests to the Congregation of Holy Cross, an action which was revoked five years later by his successor, Abp. John Gregory murray.
Throughout his life Dowling retained an interest in historical studies and often lectured on the history of the Reformation in England. His published sermons are polished and scholarly treatises. The last three years of his life were marked by recurrent circulatory and coronary attacks.
Bibliography: m. r. o'connell, The Dowling Decade in Saint Paul (unpub. master's thesis; St. Paul Seminary 1955). j. m. reardon, The Catholic Church in the Diocese of Saint Paul (St. Paul 1952) 436–505. a. dowling, Occasional Sermons and Addresses, ed. j. t. mcnicholas (Paterson 1940). Archives, Archdiocese of St. Paul, "Dowling Papers, 1919–1930"; "Dowling Sermons, 1919–1930" (manuscripts and mimeographs). Archives, Catholic Historical Society of St. Paul, "Dowling Papers, 1919–1930."
[j. p. shannon]