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McCaffrey, John Henry


Educator; b. Emmitsburg, Maryland, Sept. 6, 1806;d. Emmitsburg, Sept. 26, 1881. He attended Mt. St. Mary's College and Seminary, Emmitsburg, and became a deacon in 183l, but deferred ordination to the priesthood for seven years. Meantime he taught at the college and served as its vice president from 1834 to 1837. In 1837 he entered St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland, and he was ordained to the priesthood on March 9,1838. Upon returning to Mt. St. Mary's, he was immediately elected president and he served in this capacity until March 21, 1872, when he resigned because of ill health and was named president emeritus. He won notice for his pro-Southern views during the Civil War period. Under his administration, Mt. St. Mary's rose to a position of commanding importance in the Church in the United States. Twenty-six of its clergy were raised to the episcopate, including Cardinal John McCloskey and Archbishops John Hughes, John B. Purcell, Robert Seton, and Michael A. Corrigan. Preferring to train bishops, McCaffrey refused bishoprics for himself (Natchez, Savannah, Charleston). In 1871 archbishop John L. Spalding suggested that a Catholic university of America be established at "the Mt. St. Mary's of John McCaffrey." McCaffrey was also active in the field of theology. Cardinal McCloskey and Archbishops Francis Patrick Kenrick and John L. Spalding chose him to act as their theologian at various Councils of Baltimore. Thirty-four years of pastoral service at the college church enabled him to develop his own Catechism, which was sent in 1865 to the bishops and priests of the country for critical comment. A revised version was proposed to the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore by Spalding, who recommended its adoption as the standard Catechism for the United States. The Baltimore Catechism that was later adopted closely followed the format, arrangement, and wording of McCaffrey's work (see baltimore, councils of).

Bibliography: Archives, Mt. St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Maryland. m. m. meline and e. f. x. mcsweeney, The Story of the Mountain: Mt. St. Mary's College and Seminary, 2 v. (Emmitsburg, Maryland 1911).

[g. d. mulcahy]

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