Bishop; b. Limerick, Ireland, Oct. 28, 1833; d. Hot Springs, Ark., Feb. 21, 1907. Fitzgerlad came to the U.S. with his parents in 1849 and was educated for the priesthood at the Barrens, Perry County, Missouri; Mt. St. Mary Seminary of the West, Cincinnati, Ohio; and Mount St. Mary's College and Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md. He was ordained for the Diocese of Cincinnati, Aug. 22, 1857, and was assigned as pastor to St. Patrick's, Columbus, Ohio, a parish then under interdict and in a state of rebellion against Abp. John B. Purcell because of a dispute with the trustees. Fitzgerald restored peace and remained nine years as pastor.
On Feb. 3, 1867, he was consecrated bishop of Little Rock, Ark., a see that had been vacant since 1862 because of the Civil War. His diocese, comprising the state of Arkansas and the Indian Territory (now the state of Oklahoma), contained only 1,600 Catholics, five priests, four parishes, and three houses of Sisters of Mercy. Fitzgerald brought to the diocese Benedictine monks from St. Meinrad, Ind.; Holy Ghost Fathers from Pittsburgh, Pa.; two distinct communities of Benedictine nuns; the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Ky.; and the Sisters of Mercy from St. Louis, Mo. By introducing these orders, he prepared for the influx of German, Polish, and Italian immigrants who settled in the state in the late 19th century.
In 1870 Fitzgerald attended Vatican Council I, where he was one of seven North American bishops who opposed the definition of papal infallibility, and the only one of the seven present at the final vote (July 18, 1870), when he voted non placet. After the definition, however, he was among the first to indicate his acceptance of the dogma. In 1883, Fitzgerald represented the Province of New Orleans, La., at the conference of U.S. bishops at Rome. The following year he took part in the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore. In 1906 after Fitzgerald had suffered a paralytic stroke (Jan. 21, 1900), John B. Morris, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Nashville, Tenn., was appointed coadjutor. The diocese then had 41 churches, including St. Andrew's Cathedral dedicated in 1881; 33 missions with churches; 26 secular priests and 34 religious; 272 sisters; and a Catholic population of 20,000.
See Also: little rock, diocese of
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