McQuaid, Bernard John
MCQUAID, BERNARD JOHN
Bishop, educator; b. New York, N.Y., December 15, 1823; d. Rochester, N.Y., January 18, 1909. His parents, Bernard and Mary (Maguire) McQuaid, were Irish immigrants. Orphaned of both by 1832, Bernard was confided to St. Patrick's Orphan Asylum in New York City, where Sister Elizabeth Boyle encouraged his priestly vocation. He attended Chambly College, near Montreal, Canada, and New York's diocesan seminary, then located at Fordham, New York City. Bp. John Hughes ordained him on January 16, 1848, in old St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. Designated pastor of St. Vincent's Church, Madison, N.J., McQuaid built two churches within five years and planned a third. In keeping with Hughes's policy, he also started two parochial schools, and taught for six months at one, St. Vincent's, Madison, the first parochial school in New Jersey.
The Diocese of Newark was established in 1853, and James R. Bayley, chancellor of the New York Diocese, was appointed its first bishop. Bayley named McQuaid rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Newark where he organized the St. Vincent de Paul Society and set up a Young Men's Catholic Association with a large recreational center. During the Civil War he made a brief visit to Fredericksburg, Va., to minister to the wounded and dying soldiers. He founded Seton Hall College and Seminary (1856) and the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Madison, N.J. (1859). Bayley appointed him vicar-general of the diocese and a theologian of the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866.
Bishop of Rochester. McQuaid was named first bishop of Rochester, N.Y., on March 3, 1868. He was consecrated in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, on July 12, 1868, and installed at St. Patrick's, Rochester, on July 17. He became deeply attached to his small diocese, declining subsequent offers of the bishopric of Newark, N.J., and archbishopric of Cincinnati, Ohio. He founded 69 parishes, enlarged orphanages, established the Home of Industry for dependent girls, the Excelsior Farm for dependent boys, the Young Men's Catholic Institute (recreational), and St. Ann's Home for the Aged. He secured admission of Catholic chaplains to the Western Home of Refuge, an institution for juvenile delinquents in Rochester. Through his influence, a state law was passed to provide paid chaplains at all state penal and welfare institutions. He took an active part in the Fourth Provincial Council of New York (1883), the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884), and Vatican Council I (1869–70). At the last he voted against the definition of papal infallibility as inopportune and perhaps incapable of definition. After the definition he proclaimed his complete adherence from his own cathedral pulpit on Aug. 28, 1870.
Because of his positive views and tenacity of purpose, McQuaid became involved in several of the conflicts over policy that divided the American hierarchy of his day. He and his metropolitan, Abp. Michael A. corrigan, of New York, held positions among the "conservatives" comparable to those of Abp. John ireland and Bp. John keane among the "liberals." Both parties dissented from the extreme nationalistic ideas of some of the German-American clergy. But McQuaid, who had achieved rapport with his German diocesans, preferred gradualism to the accelerated Americanization of the "liberals." He favored strict episcopal surveillance over secret societies, political or social, suspected of falling under the ban of Church law. When the U.S. archbishops took a more lenient stand regarding certain societies, McQuaid, blaming Ireland as their presumed leader, began to speak of current trends toward "false liberalism." This charge was to reverberate widely during the controversy over what was called "americanism."
Interest in Education. McQuaid's support of Catholic education was his most significant contribution to the Church in the U.S. In his diocese he founded about 40 parochial schools and two high schools. To staff most of them he established the Rochester Sisters of St. Joseph. He instituted a preparatory seminary, St. Andrew's (1870), and a theological seminary, St. Bernard's (1893). He excluded from the Sacraments parents who sent their daughters to non-Catholic colleges; but at the time of his death he was projecting a Catholic college to be affiliated academically with Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. From 1871 on he also wrote and lectured on "Christian Free Schools."
McQuaid entered vigorously into controversies involving education. The issue was prominent in his contests with two New York priests, Louis A. lambert and Edward mcglynn, and in his opposition to Ireland who tended, so McQuaid thought, to concede to the state too much authority over education. It formed the background of the New York State Regency affair in which Father Sylvester malone became regent instead of McQuaid. At the time he publicly denounced Ireland's ill-advised intervention in New York State politics, and merited for himself a rebuke from Rome. Fortunately, McQuaid and Ireland were reconciled in 1905, recalling that they had much in common. As a progressive conservative, McQuaid was an important moderating influence in the American Church of his generation.
Bibliography: h. j. browne, ed., "The Letters of Bishop McQuaid from the Vatican Council," American Catholic Historical Review 41 (1956). m. j. murphy, "The Cornell Plan of Bishop J. McQuaid," St. Meinrad Essays 12 (1959) 76–87. f. j. zwierlein, Life and Letters of Bishop McQuaid, 3 v. (Rochester 1925–27); Letters of Archbishop Corrigan to Bishop McQuaid and Allied Documents (Rochester 1946).
[r. f. mcnamara]