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Ives, Levi Silliman


Episcopal bishop, founder of the New York Catholic Protectory; b. Meriden, Conn., Sept. 16, 1797; d. New York City, Oct. 13, 1867. He was reared in Turin, N.Y., where he attended Lowville Academy, leaving to serve briefly in the War of 1812. After ill health interrupted his studies for the Presbyterian ministry at Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y., he became an Episcopalian (1819) and studied theology in New York under Bp. John H. Hobart, former pastor and close friend of Mother Elizabeth Seton. He married Hobart's daughter, Rebecca, in 1822, and was ordained the following year. Ives advanced rapidly and, after serving at many parishes in Pennsylvania and New York, he became the first Episcopalian bishop of North Carolina (1831). Slavery was a vital issue in his episcopate, for he defended the institution as a field for Christian paternalism and wrote a catechism for the slaves. The Oxford Movement was also of concern and English Tractarian writings on Protestant origins and the early Church impressed Ives. At Valle Crucis, N.C., he founded the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross (1845), whose members were accused of adhering to monastic vows, auricular confession, the Real Presence, and other Catholic practices. After many diocesan quarrels he was arraigned in 1848 by an Episcopalian convention, which accepted his written assurances of his orthodoxy and dissolved the

brotherhood. Ives soon regretted his recantation and issued a pastoral letter reaffirming his ideas. He was increasingly drawn to the Catholic Church by its means for achieving personal sanctity and its attachment to the poor in the U.S., and he finally journeyed to Rome and made a formal submission to Pius IX on Christmas Day 1852. Shortly after this his wife entered the Church. The story of his conversion was told in his Trials of a Mind in its Progress to Catholicism (1853).

Ives's return to New York in 1854 as a Catholic layman posed a problem for the American hierarchy. Since Rome directed that provision be made in such cases, a convert's fund was first attempted and then part-time lecturing in rhetoric was secured for him in New York City at St. Joseph's Seminary, St. John's College, and several convents. Eventually, Ives found a career for himself in Catholic charities. As president of New York's Superior Council, he urged the St. Vincent de Paul Society to expand its growing lay apostolate beyond parish activities to national organization. Ives had long opposed the system that sent destitute children to western farms or to state institutions essentially Protestant in character, and in 1863 he organized the New York Catholic Protectory and became its first president. He persuaded the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Charity to join his venture and obtained public financial support for the protectory. His cottage in Manhattanville became a favorite meeting place for converts and a popular Catholic cultural center in New York.

Bibliography: j. o'grady, Levi Silliman Ives (New York 1933).

[e. f. leonard]

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