Grassel, Lorenz

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First coadjutor-elect of the U.S. Church; b. Ruemannsfelden, Bavaria, Aug. 18, 1753; d. Philadelphia, Pa., October 1793. He entered the Jesuits, but the suppression of the Society of Jesus prevented him from completing his novitiate. After ordination as a secular priest in Germany (c. 1780), he went to Philadelphia, Pa. (1787), at the request of Rev. Ferdinand farmer. Grassel was initially attached to St. Mary's Church, Philadelphia; in addition, he made missionary excursions into New Jersey. In Philadelphia he ministered with prudence and devotion to German immigrants and to descendants of the English and Irish settlers. At St. Mary's he upheld the authority of John Carroll as prefect apostolic of the U.S.; Grassel was retained at St. Mary's Church (1788) over the opposition of the German board of trustees, who in time built Holy Trinity Church, insisting on the right to choose their own pastors. In the midst of these embroilments Grassel joined in an unsuccessful effort to petition the restoration of the Society of Jesus. His pastorate soon won the recognition of his fellow priests as well as that of Bishop Carroll. In 1791 he was a promoter at the first national synod. On Sept. 24, 1793, he was nominated as coadjutor bishop to Carroll and confirmation was asked from Pius VII at an audience on Dec. 8, 1793. Formal letters of his appointment as bishop of Samosata were sent Jan. 18, 1794, but Grassel did not live to see these official acts accomplished. Within a month of his nomination, he died ministering to the afflicted in the Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic.

Bibliography: p. k. guilday, The Life and Times of John Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore, 17351815, 2 v. (New York 1927).

[t. o. hanley]