Koudelka, Joseph Maria
KOUDELKA, JOSEPH MARIA
Bishop; b. Chlistovo, Bohemia, Dec. 8, 1852; d. Superior, Wis., June 24, 1921. At 13, after education at the college at Klattau, Bohemia, he immigrated with his parents to the U.S. and settled near Manitowoc, Wis. He continued his studies at St. Francis Seminary, Milwaukee, Wis., became a naturalized citizen, and was ordained Oct. 8, 1875. After pastoral work at St. Prokopius Church, Cleveland, Ohio, until 1882, he served (1882–83) as editor of Hlas, a Bohemian magazine published in St. Louis, and then returned to Cleveland as pastor of St. Michael's (1883–1907), where he built the parish church and school.
He prepared the first, second, and third readers (in German) for Bohemian schools (1882), wrote a short history of the Catholic Church for Catholic schools (1905), and compiled prayer books for adults and children. He spoke German, Polish, Bohemian, and English and had a command of the classical languages. When Bp. Ignatius Horstmann asked for an auxiliary bishop in Cleveland to care for the foreign populace, especially the Slavic peoples, Koudelka was appointed Nov. 29, 1907, and consecrated bishop of Germanicopolis Feb. 25, 1908. He was the first auxiliary bishop of special jurisdiction appointed in the U.S., and he served in Cleveland until Sept. 4, 1911, when he was transferred to Milwaukee as auxiliary to Abp. S. G. Messmer.
On Aug. 1, 1913, Koudelka was appointed second bishop of the Diocese of Superior, where, during his
eight-year administration, ten parish churches, 22 missions, three hospitals, two high schools, five elementary schools, two industrial schools, and one orphanage were built. The Catholic population increased from 53,130 to 57,514; the number of priests serving the diocese, from 86 to 98. Among the most noted buildings erected under Koudelka was the St. Joseph Orphanage in Superior, with its imitation baroque chapel, much of which was financed by the missions and retreats Koudelka gave across the nation. He was buried at St. Michael's, his former parish in Cleveland, and his remains are interred in St. Mary's cemetery there.
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