New York, Archdiocese of
NEW YORK, ARCHDIOCESE OF
(Neo-Eboracensis ) Metropolitan see, 4,717 square miles, comprising the boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx, and Richmond, in New York City, and the counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster. The diocese was created April 8, 1808; the archdiocese, July 19, 1850. The dioceses suffragan to New York included Albany, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Ogdensburg, Rochester, Rockville Centre, and Syracuse. These, along with Newark, Paterson, and part of Trenton, in New Jersey, made up the territory of the original see. In the first division (1847), the creation of the Dioceses of Albany and Buffalo cut off the northern and western sections of the state; in the second (1853), the new Sees of Brooklyn and Newark removed Long Island and New Jersey. Since 1861, when the boundary between Albany and New York was readjusted, the limits of the archdiocese, with the exception of the period from 1885 to 1932, when the Bahama Islands were under the jurisdiction of New York, have remained unchanged.
From the time that Giovanni da Verrazano discovered New York Bay (1524), the area has had Catholic associations. The explorers Estevan Gomez and Samuel de Champlain preceded Henry Hudson in sailing both the southern and northern waters of the state.
Dutch. The Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam was only a year old when the Franciscan Joseph d'Aillon, probably the first priest to enter the state, visited the Niagara region (1627). Thereafter Jesuits established missions among the Iroquois. René Goupil became the first martyr within the confines of the state (1642); his companion, Isaac Jogues, suffered martyrdom in 1646, with John de Lalande, at Ossernenon (Auriesville). see north american martyrs. Fathers Claude Dablon and Pierre Chaumonot built a chapel where Syracuse now stands (1655). Two years later Father Simon Le Moyne came downriver to minister to a few Catholics, both Dutch and French, in New Amsterdam, and probably to offer Mass there, on a French ship and in the settlement.
English. Apart from the converts made by the Jesuits among the indigenous peoples, Kateri tekakwitha being the most famous example (1676), very few Catholics were to be found in the colony when the Dutch ceded it to the English in 1664. The former, while establishing the Reformed Church, had been mildly tolerant; the latter, especially under the Catholic governor, Thomas Dongan (1683–88), were for a time even more generous. Dongan's Charter of Libertys and Privileges granted religious freedom, thereby enabling the Jesuits who arrived about this time—Fathers Thomas Harvey, Henry Harrison, and Charles Gage—with two lay brothers to assist them, to celebrate Mass and to set up a short-lived Latin school near the present Trinity Church.
The overthrow of King James II in England and Jacob Leisler's rebellion in New York put an end to such tolerance. Penal laws, similar to those in Britain, thereafter specifically excluded Catholics from the rights of citizenship and banned their priests from the colony under pain of perpetual imprisonment and of death upon escape and recapture. In 1709 the Jesuits were forced to abandon their missions among the Iroquois, and barely a trace of Catholics, native or white, is discernible for the rest of the colonial period. John Ury, a nonjuring Protestant clergyman, suspected of being a Catholic priest and a leader of the "Negro Plot" of 1741, was executed, along with several Spanish Catholic African slaves. A number of exiled French-Acadian Catholics entered New York in 1755 but were scattered through the colony under indenture and soon lost to history as Catholics. A band of Scottish Catholics settled in the Mohawk Valley (1773) under Father John MacKenna, the first resident priest since Dongan's time. As loyalists they moved to Canada in the course of the American Revolution. Probably as early as 1775 Father Ferdinand farmer, SJ, began periodically to visit New York City to say Mass secretly for a handful of Catholics in a loft on Water Street. Father de la Motte and other French naval chaplains, one with Washington's troops on the site of the present archdiocesan seminary in Yonkers, celebrated Mass for Catholics of the area during the Revolution. It was not, however, until the state constitution of 1777 guaranteed religious liberty and the British evacuated New York that Father Farmer could openly enter the city in 1784.
In October of the same year Charles whelan, an Irish Capuchin, arrived in New York where he began to say Mass in the house of José Roiz Silva, a wealthy Portuguese merchant; he became the nucleus of a congregation of about 200 Catholics. In the whole state, so the prefect apostolic, John Carroll, estimated (1785), there were about 1,500 Catholics. New York was, until 1800, capital of the republic, and the small Catholic body was augmented by official representatives of Catholic European powers, in whose houses chaplains also celebrated Mass, and by the few Catholic members of Congress. Led by Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, the French consul, and taking advantage of a state law of 1784 permitting any religious denomination to organize as a body corporate, they set up The Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church in the City of New York. Crèvecoeur, with £1,000 advanced by Thomas Stoughton, the Spanish consul general, and the latter's business partner, Dominick Lynch, bought the unexpired leases of five lots of the Trinity Church Farm. There, on Oct. 5, 1785, the Spanish ambassador, Don Diego de Gardoqui, officiated at the laying of the cornerstone of the mother church of New York, Old St. Peter's, on Barclay Street. In the very method of its establishment, St. Peter's was to be the prototype in a half century of trustee difficulties for the American Church.
With the arrival in late 1785 of another Capuchin, Andrew Nugent, the possibility of gross abuse in the system became apparent. Nugent, with a group of trustees
and parishioners, soon created a faction against Whelan which, despite a hurried visit of Carroll to New York, caused the first schism in the American Church and the departure of Whelan from the city. Although Nugent had the satisfaction of opening St. Peter's on Nov. 4, 1786, he in turn antagonized the trustees and was suspended by Carroll, who made a second visit to the city in 1787. Nugent lost his post through legal action by the trustees and was succeeded by a Dominican, William o'brien.
For a decade thereafter O'Brien maintained harmony. He toured Cuba and Mexico to collect funds and furnishings for the infant church. In periodic yellow fever epidemics he ministered heroically to victims. In his time a second church, St. Mary's in Albany (1798), was built. St. Peter's free school was opened (1800), the first of its kind in New York and the recipient of public funds after 1806. Elizabeth Ann Seton, later foundress of the Sisters of Charity, was received into the Church in 1805.
On April 8, 1808, Pope Pius VII created the Diocese of New York and appointed Richard Luke Concanen, an Irish Dominican resident in Rome, first bishop.
Concanen. Concanen, destined owing to the Napoleonic Wars never to reach his see and to die in Naples
(June 19, 1810), empowered John Carroll, now archbishop of Baltimore, to appoint a vicar-general for New York. Thus, in October 1808, Anthony kohlmann, accompanied by a fellow Jesuit, Benedict fenwick, and four scholastics, arrived from Maryland as administrator. Although the two priests found St. Peter's congregation to be composed mainly of Irish-Americans, they preached in French and German as well as in English and soon attracted a flock so numerous (14,000) that on June 8, 1809, Kohlmann laid the cornerstone of the second church in the city, St. Patrick's, intended as a cathedral for the first bishop. In the same year he founded the New York Literary Institution, a college that prospered until the recall of most of the Jesuits to Maryland in 1813. In 1812 three Ursuline nuns from Ireland opened an academy and free school. In 1813 a group of exiled French Trappists started an orphan asylum in the building vacated by the Literary Institution. Again promise was abortive: the Trappists returned to France in 1814, and the Ursulines sailed for Ireland two years later. Meanwhile Kohlmann was recalled to Maryland (1815), two years after winning, in a celebrated case before the Court of General Sessions, a favorable decision respecting the seal of Confession which set a precedent in American law. On May 4, 1815, old St. Patrick's Cathedral, Mott Street, was dedicated by Bishop Cheverus of Boston.
Connolly. Six months later John connolly, who had been an Irish Dominican living in Rome at the time he was consecrated second bishop of New York on Nov. 6, 1814, arrived in his see. He found about 15,000 Catholics in a population of 100,000, only three churches, and four priests in a diocese covering the whole of New York State and the northern half of New Jersey. Compelled to act as bishop, parish priest, and curate, he succeeded in opening another free school in the basement of St. Patrick's (1816). He also introduced Mother Seton's Sisters of Charity to the city (1817), made long visitations of his diocese (1817 and 1820), and established nine additional churches. New York State was growing rapidly, becoming after 1820 the most populous in the Union. Construction of the Erie Canal (1817–25) attracted thousands of Irish laborers for whom the bishop could not provide priests. He had no seminary and noted sadly what he considered the repugnance of American youth to the ecclesiastical state. His problems multiplied when public aid for church schools was ended in 1824 on account of alleged misuse of funds by the Bethel Baptist Church corporation. Moreover, he lost probably his ablest assistant when Benedict Fenwick was withdrawn from New York by his Jesuit superiors (1817). He also had to contend with strained relations with some of his clergy, and especially with the trustees who controlled the churches. Fathers Charles French and Thomas Carbry, supporting the bishop, were in open and sometimes scandalous opposition to Fathers Peter Malou and William Taylor, who were on the side of the trustees. So acrimonious did the debate become that the trustees sent Taylor to Rome to complain against and possibly to supplant the ordinary. Bishop Plessis of Quebec was directed by the cardinal prefect of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide to visit New York (1820) and report on the trouble. The departure from the diocese of the priests who led both factions and the suspension of Malou brought an uneasy peace; but it further depleted the ranks of the clergy.
When Bishop Connolly died, Feb. 6, 1825, the diocese fell to the care of his vicar-general, John power, who, since his arrival from Ireland in 1819, by his moderation of the trustee dispute and by his ability generally, had won the affection of all parties and the expectation that he would succeed to the see. In the 21 months of his administration he reinstated Malou, founded New York's first Catholic newspaper, the Truth Teller (1825), built a new orphan asylum under the care of the Sisters of Charity (1826), and dedicated a third church in the city, St. Mary's (1826). The appointment, therefore, of John dubois, president of Mt. St. Mary's College and Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., as third bishop in 1826 came as a somewhat unwelcome surprise to the preponderantly Irish congregations in New York. They viewed him as a Frenchman, incapable of fluent English, and seemingly, as a former Sulpician, imposed on them by Archbishop Maréchal of Baltimore and the Sulpicians there. The new bishop's first pastoral letter (July 1827), in which he sought to refute such suspicions, got a cool reception.
Dubois. In the summer of 1828, when Dubois made a 3,000-mile tour of visitation, there were only 18 priests in his vast diocese to minister to a population of nearly 150,000 Catholics. Shortly thereafter (1829), in order to secure both priests and funds for a seminary, he journeyed to Rome and Paris. Two years later, having been unsuccessful in recruiting additions to his clergy but with about $18,000 in financial aid from the Congregation of Propaganda and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, he was able to lay the cornerstone of a seminary at Nyack, N.Y. (1833). Within slightly more than a year the building was destroyed by fire, uninsured and a total loss. Subsequent attempts to establish a seminary in Brooklyn and in Lafargeville were equally disappointing. The trustees of the cathedral frustrated Dubois's effort (1829) to set up a school for boys under a religious brotherhood, and in 1834 they refused to accept a successor to their pastor, Thomas Levins, whom he had suspended. They even threatened to withhold the bishop's salary.
Distracted by such internal dissension, the Catholics at the same time became targets of a renascent bigotry. Already in 1824 the recently introduced Orange Society had provoked an anti-Catholic riot in Greenwich Village. Ten years later, in the same neighborhood, men of St. Joseph's Parish guarded by night the work of building their church, and in 1835 armed parishoners prevented a threatened attack on the cathedral. Editorials in the Protestant, the Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, William Brownlee's "American Protestant Association," and Samuel Morse's "Native American Democratic Association" all fomented hatred. Bishop Dubois shunned controversy, but his priests were not so reticent. John Power and Felix Varela in the Truth Teller, Thomas Levins and Joseph Schneller in the Weekly Register and Catholic Diary, and Constantine Pise in the Catholic Expositor vigorously rebutted the Protestant press. In Philadelphia, Father John Hughes was making a public mark in debate with a Presbyterian minister, John Breckenridge.
In 1837 Dubois, debilitated by his struggle with the trustees, by age, and by crippling attacks of rheumatism, accepted the appointment of this same John hughes as his coadjutor, with right of succession, and consecrated him in St. Patrick's Cathedral on Jan. 7, 1838. From the outset the coadjutor proved master of the situation. Long familiar with the abuses of trusteeism in Philadelphia, he successfully appealed to the congregation of the cathedral against their truculent trustees (1839) and thus dealt the system a blow from which it was never to recover in New York. In the same year Dubois resigned diocesan management to his coadjutor and entered a reluctant retirement. He died on Dec. 20, 1842. Despite the travail of his administration, the Catholic population of his diocese had risen by one-third, the number of clergy had tripled, and there had been a fourfold increase in churches. To care for German immigration, rapidly increasing after 1830, he had welcomed the Redemptorists into the diocese, encouraged the building of St. Nicholas's Church in the city, and provided a superintendent of the scattered German communities in the person of Father John Raffeiner.
Under Hughes the See of New York, like the city itself, was to gain preeminence in America. In the two decades after 1840 about 70 percent of the more than four million immigrants to the U.S. entered through the port of New York. Many of them, Irish and Germans uprooted by famine and revolution, were Catholics who settled in the city or were drawn along the Hudson and Mohawk valleys to the cotton and woolen mills, iron and tanning industries, and construction on the Croton Aqueduct and the Hudson River railroad. In 1851 alone, 221,213 Irish landed in New York.
Hughes. For the protection of these immigrants, Hughes encouraged the formation of the Irish Emigrant Society, the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, and an immigrant commission of the state legislature. He denounced the importation of Irish secret societies, the foreignism of Young Irelanders and their radical press, as well as the too-swift Americanization advocated by such native converts as Orestes brownson. He fought sectarian proselytism preying upon the immigrants' destitution, and, controversially, Catholic projects to settle them on western lands. They so swelled the population of the diocese that it was split in 1847 by the erection of the Sees of Albany and Buffalo. New York was raised to an archdiocese in 1850, and restricted again in 1853 by the creation of Brooklyn and Newark. Yet at the time of Hughes's death in 1864, the churches and chapels in this now reduced territory outnumbered by over 20 those for the whole area of 1840, and the number of priests had more than tripled. The archbishop had established St. Joseph's Seminary (1840) and St. John's College (1841), both at Fordham, N.Y., promoted the founding of the North American College in Rome (1859), welcomed the opening of Manhattan College, New York City (1853), and planned a provincial seminary at Troy.
Bishop Hughes's reputation as a formidable controversialist, already proved in the Breckenridge debate, was further publicized in sharp and sometimes bitter exchanges with Mayor James Harper, Colonel William Stone, "Kirwan" (the Reverend Nicholas Murray), Horace Greeley, James Gordon Bennett, Senator Lewis Cass, Erastus Brooks, and Orestes Brownson. In 1840, the bishop led a campaign to regain for the eight Catholic free schools of New York City a proportionate share of the common school fund. His argument before the Common Council, while unavailing, drew attention, as did his endorsement of a slate of candidates favorable to the Catholic claims in the state election of that year, to the injustice of a situation whereby the professedly nonsectarian, but actually Protestant and privately controlled, Public School Society received state funds at the same time that Catholic schools were excluded from such benefit. Two years later the state legislature, by extending the common school system of the rest of the state to the city, spelled the eventual demise of the Society. The apparent failure of the Catholics forced them back upon their own meager resources. Led by Hughes, they established 38 new free schools and academies before the end of his episcopate.
The aggressiveness of their bishop, while inspiriting his socially inferior, largely immigrant, and hitherto rather supine flock, excited nativist alarm. A mob smashed the windows of the cathedral and of the bishop's house in 1842. Two years later, armed Catholics, with Hughes's encouragement, again had to defend the cathedral and themselves from a repetition of the nativist riots in Philadelphia. Anti-Catholic sentiment also accounted for the election in 1844 of James Harper as mayor on the Native American ticket, and for the origin in New York in 1852 of the Know-Nothing party (see know-nothingism). The city, while fervently greeting the revolutionist Louis Kossuth in 1851, treated shamefully a papal nuncio, Archbishop bedini, two years later. National absorption in the issues leading to the Civil War helped to dissipate prevalent bigotry. Archbishop Hughes, who in 1846 had declined a request of President Polk that he intercede with the Catholic Mexicans at the outset of the Mexican War, readily accepted in 1861 a commission of his friend William Seward, Secretary of State, and of President Lincoln to visit Europe and there represent the Union cause. The Catholic laity of New York, largely Irish, while deprecating abolitionism, as did their archbishop, contributed impressive numbers and valorous service, particularly in New York's famous 69th Regiment, to the Union forces. Their religious communities, especially the Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of Mercy, were among the first nurses of the battlefield. Moreover, it was mainly the personal appeal of the archbishop himself, at the request of Governor Horatio Seymour, that quelled the notorious New York draft riots of 1863.
John Hughes died on Jan. 3, 1864, leaving a well-ordered archdiocese and ecclesiastical province. Improvements had been effected through the legislation of the first two New York diocesan synods (1842 and 1848) and three provincial councils (1854, 1860, 1861). Hughes had organized a diocesan chancery (1853), patronized 10 new religious communities, and rescued church property from the mismanagement of lay trustees. His flock had increased in numerical strength and by the accession of notable converts in what appeared to be an American counterpart of the Oxford movement. They had an articulate press as represented by Brownson's Quarterly Review, the Freeman's Journal, the Metropolitan Record, and Father Isaac hecker's Catholic World. Archdiocesan charities were advanced by the founding of a pioneer conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the opening of St. Vincent's Hospital. A local branch of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith was established. The cornerstone was laid for the boldly conceived new St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the archbishop had come to be recognized as a figure of national prominence.
McCloskey. The importance of New York in the nation and in the universal Church received recognition during the next episcopate (1864–85) in the elevation of its archbishop to the cardinalate. John mccloskey—a native of New York, consecrated coadjutor to Hughes in 1844, transferred to Albany as its first bishop in 1847, and installed as fifth bishop and second archbishop of New York on Aug. 21, 1864—became America's first prince of the Church in 1875. The ceremonies of investiture of the new cardinal, and the dedication, four years later, of the new cathedral received unprecedented publicity, attesting the change in public sentiment toward the Church. This was further evidenced by the election in 1880 of William R. Grace as first Catholic mayor of the city. The cardinal, unlike his predecessor, mild-mannered and benign, stood as a public figure mainly on account of his rank. During his irenic administration the archdiocese experienced more than a double growth in the number of churches, clergy, and schools. Significantly, as immigrants raised the Catholic population of towns along and east and west of the Hudson, 58 of the 90 new churches were built outside New York City. Holy Rosary Mission was founded (1884) to minister to the large proportion of Catholics among the more than six million immigrants who debarked at Castle Garden between 1861 and 1890. To provide for Catholic Italians, arriving in steadily increasing numbers after 1880, the first church exclusively for their use was entrusted to the Pallottine Fathers (1884).
The national complexion of the clergy was also changing. Hitherto, although 107 priests had been ordained from St. Joseph's Seminary in Fordham (1840–61), a major proportion of the New York clergy was recruited in Europe, especially in Ireland. With the opening of St. Joseph's Provincial Seminary in Troy (1864–96), the 741 priests ordained there for the various dioceses of the ecclesiastical province were almost all native Americans. From 1864 to 1885 approximately 16 religious communities of priests, sisters, and brothers arrived to assist them. Charitable works increased proportionately, notably with the opening of the New York Foundling Hospital under the Sisters of Charity, the first institution of its kind in the U.S., the New York Catholic Protectory for delinquent children, Father John drumgoole's Mission of the Immaculate Virgin for homeless waifs, and a rapid multiplication of conferences of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Elsewhere signs of confidence and maturity appeared in the founding of Hecker's Catholic Publication Society, P. J. Hickey's popular Catholic Review, and John Gilmary shea's United States Catholic Historical Society. Although the third and fourth diocesan synods (1868 and 1882) and the fourth provincial council (1883), which the cardinal convoked, did not effect all the executive reorganization and pastoral adaptation necessary in a fast-changing archdiocese, his untroubled administration stands in contrast to those of his predecessor and successor. Enfeebled in his last years, he relied increasingly upon the assistance of a coadjutor archbishop until his death on Oct. 10, 1885.
Corrigan. The coadjutor (since 1880), Michael A. corrigan, immediately succeeded to the archbishopric. One of his first acts was to convoke the fifth New York diocesan synod (1886), the decrees of which, in 20 titles and 264 numbers, were so thorough and brought such efficiency into diocesan administration and discipline, that the four subsequent synods of his episcopate (1889, 1892, 1895, 1898) could add little to them. The Catholic population almost doubled during Corrigan's administration (1885–1902). Over five million immigrants entered the country between 1881 and 1890, followed by almost four million in the next decade, the majority now coming from Catholic sections of Europe. As early as 1886 the archbishop, in a report to Rome, noted among the foreign-language-speaking Catholics in New York City some 60,000 Germans, as many Bohemians, 50,000 Italians, 25,000 French, 20,000 Poles, and lesser numbers of French-Canadians, Spaniards, Greeks, and Lithuanians. By 1902 non-English-speaking Catholics in New York had the services of over 100 priests of their respective nationalities and more than 50 churches. The Italians alone, the largest group among them, had 50 Italian priests and 20 churches and chapels, as well as the ministrations of the recently arrived Pallottine sisters, Mother Cabrini's Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, the Scalabrinian fathers, and the Salesians. The Blessed Sacrament fathers came to work among the French-Canadians and the Assumptionists among the Spanish-speaking. During the same period the total number of churches and chapels again more than doubled, as did the number of diocesan and regular clergy. Eight new religious communities of men and 16 of women, two of them, the Sisters of Divine Compassion and the Dominican Sisters of St. Rose of Lima, founded in New York, began work in the archdiocese. Despite the severe depression of 1893 to 1896, a model seminary, the new St. Joseph's in Dunwoodie was built. Corrigan also inaugurated a trend toward specialization in the work of the clergy by establishing the New York Apostolate, a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, a superintendent and an association of diocesan charities, a diocesan superintendent of schools, examining boards for teachers, and school commissioners for the various districts of the archdiocese.
Catholic education was a hotly debated issue of the day. The archbishop had the satisfaction of promulgating in his synod of 1886 the instructions of the Third Plenary Council of baltimore (1884) on the necessity of parochial schools. He doubled the number of such schools within his own jurisdiction and rallied New York patronage as the main support of a national Catholic summer school (1892). He viewed with distrust, as harmful to the concept and growing system of Catholic schools, such compromise solutions as the Faribault-Stillwater experiments of Abp. John Ireland of St. Paul and the pough keepsie plan in operation in his own archdiocese since 1873. His conservative position on this question, and on others such as membership of Catholics in secret societies, Irish nationalism, the Catholic University in Washington, and the prevalence of a heterodox americanism, led to disagreement with other members of the American hierarchy, particularly Archbishop Ireland, and to an ecclesiastical cause célèbre in New York. Edward mcglynn, rector of St. Stephen's Church and long an opponent of separate schools, in 1886 actively associated himself with the mayoral campaign of Henry George, to whose radical land and tax theories he publicly subscribed. Refusing to obey the archbishop's prohibition of such political engagement, McGlynn was repeatedly suspended and eventually removed from St. Stephen's. Subsequently excommunicated for failure to account in Rome for his insubordination and his adherence to the Georgian economic theories, he and his supporters bitterly denounced the archbishop and the Roman authorities. The affair, exploited by a sensational newspaper press, focused unwarranted attention on personalities and withdrew it from more substantial and positive elements of growth of the Church in New York. Despite the furor the archbishop, characteristically, held to a routine of efficient diocesan administration. He oversaw construction of the seminary in Dunwoodie, completed the spires of his cathedral and projected its Lady Chapel, and planned, before his death on May 5, 1902, a preparatory seminary.
Farley. His successor, John M. farley, auxiliary bishop since 1895, was installed as fourth archbishop of New York on Oct. 5, 1902. Astutely pursuing a policy of conciliation, dramatically emphasized in his returning from Rome in 1904 with the nomination to monsignorial dignity of eight of his priests (an unprecedented number and some of them former partisans of McGlynn), he soon overcame the residue of disunion in the ranks of the clergy. The beginning of monthly days of recollection for priests in the same year, the opening of Cathedral College as a preparatory seminary in 1903, and a doubling of the number of priests of religious communities were also to add vigor and numbers to the clergy, so necessary to cope with a still mounting population. Although before the end of his administration (1918) the trend of older residents away from Manhattan toward Brooklyn and New Jersey had begun, immigration was still to account for a rise of about 200,000 in Catholic population. In a decade (1901–10) that greeted nearly 9,000,000 immigrants, of whom 1,285,349 came in 1907, the peak year in American immigration history, Italians continued to constitute the largest segment of Catholics. Only a few months after his accession the archbishop presided at a meeting of his Italian clergy to discuss the problem. Of the slightly more than 100 new churches he established, over a third were for the care of Italian-Americans. The Holy Ghost fathers began their ministry among the African Americans of Harlem, and in 1912 Mother Drexel's Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament opened their first school for black children there.
The era also saw the ebbing of debate over Catholic education. The archbishop, created a cardinal in 1911, strongly supported the rather precarious fortunes of The catholic university of america, the infant National Catholic Educational Association, and the organization of the College of New Rochelle, the first Catholic college for women in the state. While the Catholic population of the archdiocese rose by about 20 percent, church schools and their enrollments doubled in number; two priests were appointed superintendents of parochial schools. Approximately 2,000 Catholic teachers in the public schools were united in an association called The Workers for God and Country. Other signs of vitality appeared in the publication, under the auspices of Dunwoodie Seminary, of the highly respected New York Review (1905–08), the first scientific Catholic theological journal in the U.S., and the Catholic Encyclopedia (1907–14), largely under the cardinal's patronage. These years also marked the corporate conversion of the Anglican Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, the beginning of the laymen's retreat movement, and public celebration of the centenary of the diocese. The Lady Chapel of the cathedral was completed and the entire edifice solemnly consecrated. The Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America (maryknoll) established its headquarters and seminary in the archdiocese; and the local Society for the Propagation of the Faith was reconstituted and contributions to the missions rose from a few thousand dollars annually to over a quarter of a million by 1918. An attempt to coordinate all other charities of the archdiocese in an organization known as the United Catholic Works was arrested by the outbreak of World War I.
Before Cardinal Farley died, Sept. 17, 1918, the entrance of the U.S. into the war tested the resources of the archdiocese. The cardinal founded the New York Catholic War Council, which sponsored a soldiers' and sailors' club, a women's Catholic patriotic club, and a Catholic hospital for shell-shocked patients. His auxiliary bishop (since 1914), Patrick J. hayes, was appointed by the Holy See bishop ordinary of the U.S. army and navy chaplains (1917). He so effectively recruited and organized the corps of Catholic chaplains that by the end of the war there were 1,523 priests, in five vicariates, under his jurisdiction. Of the 1,023 Catholic chaplains already commissioned by Nov. 11, 1918, the 87 from New York formed a contingent more than twice as large as that from any other diocese. Bishop Hayes also made personal appeals in behalf of the Liberty Loans and was a director of a Knights of Columbus drive that raised nearly $5 million for work among servicemen.
Hayes. On March 10, 1919, in the same year that a fellow native of New York's lower East Side, Alfred E. Smith, became the first elected Catholic governor of the state, the former auxiliary was named to the See of New York as its fifth archbishop. Five years later he received an enthusiastic reception, replete with tickertape parade from the Battery, when he returned from Rome a cardinal. During the 19 years of his administration the Catholic population of the archdiocese fell from over 1,250,000 to about 1,000,000. This was the result of the gradual decline in immigration during the 1920s and a sharp drop during the Depression years of the thirties, as well as an accelerated exodus of Catholic families to metropolitan areas beyond his jurisdiction. The number of churches, nevertheless, increased by one-sixth; schools, by one-half; and the clergy, by one-third. Charitable institutions and services had continued to multiply, often with over-lapping and duplication of activity and at the expense of economy and efficiency. Three months after his accession the new archbishop announced a detailed survey of the more than 200 welfare agencies of the archdiocese, and in the following year he coordinated them all under a secretary for charities, at the head of a corporation entitled Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. The new organization was commended by the New York State Board of Charities (1920) as "the most significant and important event of the year in the field of charitable work." It quickly assumed a position of leadership among private welfare organizations throughout the country and served as a model for other dioceses. Supported by a special gifts committee of the laity and an annual parish appeal that soon netted over $1 million yearly, Catholic Charities successfully met the challenge of the severe financial depression following the stock market collapse of 1929 and earned for its founder the popular title Cardinal of Charity.
Never a dynamic public figure, the cardinal spent the last years of his life in semiretirement. He did, however, introduce the Catholic Youth Organization to the diocese (1936), patronize the literature committee that bore his name, and promote a Catholic theater movement. The heart ailment which seriously restricted his activities eventually resulted in his death, Sept. 4, 1938.
Spellman. The appointment of Francis J. spellman, the auxiliary bishop of Boston, as the sixth archbishop of New York on April 15, 1939, shattered two precedents. He was the first archbishop of New York in 100 years who had not been closely associated with his predecessor, and he was a significant figure in the American hierarchy even before his appointment to New York. As a result of his friendship with both Pope Pius XII and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as his own intelligence, energy and ambition, Spellman became the most important archbishop of New York since John Hughes and the most influential American prelate since James Cardinal Gibbons. As expected, he received the Cardinal's red hat at the first postwar consistory on Feb. 18, 1946.
Once installed as archbishop on Sept. 8, 1939, Spell-man moved quickly to modernize and centralize the organizational structure of the archdiocese. He immediately refinanced the diocesan debt of $28 million through bankers in New York and Boston, saving the archdiocese $500,000 per year in interest payments. In short order he introduced a central purchasing agency, a diocesan insurance office and a diocesan building commission. He also reorganized the chancery office, matrimonial tribunal and administrative offices of the archdiocese, housing them in an elegant mansion across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral. Spellman's centralizing policies ended the autonomy that pastors had enjoyed under Hayes. Although Spellman compensated them with a lavish bestowal of papal honors, he deliberately remained an aloof and impersonal figure to his priests. For the day-to-day administration of the archdiocese, he relied heavily on the services of James Francis McIntyre and later John Maguire, both of whom in turn were appointed coadjutor archbishops without the right of succession.
Spellman played an important role on both the national and international scene. He was instrumental in persuading President Roosevelt to appoint a "personal representative" to the Holy See on Dec. 23, 1939. Spell-man's responsibilities as Military Vicar for the Armed Forces (an appointment he received on Dec. 11, 1939) increased dramatically following the entry of the United States into World War II. Thereafter the Military Ordinariate became one of the largest dioceses in the world with several million military personnel and their families and some 5,000 full-and part-time chaplains. Throughout the era of the Cold War Spellman remained an outspoken foe of Communism both at home and abroad. His ecclesiastical influence was further enhanced because New York City was the headquarters of important national agencies such as Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Committee on Refugees, the Bishops' Resettlement Committee for Refugees, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
The advent of World War II forestalled any large-scale building projects in the archdiocese, but, even before Pearl Harbor, Spellman managed to establish two new parishes, install a new main altar in St. Patrick's Cathedral, relocate the minor seminary and begin a system of diocesan high schools. After the war the archdiocese embarked upon a major expansion of its infrastructure. Between 1939 and 1967 enrollment in Catholic schools almost doubled on the elementary level (to 179,052) and almost tripled on the high school and college levels (to 49,842 and 27,949 respectively). Spellman spent several million dollars renovating St. Joseph's Seminary, adding a new library and gymnasium. Catholic Charities also experienced a major expansion of its 200 member agencies as well as the construction of a dozen new hospitals, homes for the aged and child-caring centers. The New York Foundling Hospital, one of Spellman's favorite charities, was moved to a modern facility, and St. Vincent's Hospital developed into a full-fledged medical center.
After declining during the 1920s and 1930s, the Catholic population of the archdiocese almost doubled during the Spellman years from c. 1,000,000 to 1,848,000. Much of the increase was due to the influx after World War II of over 600,000 Puerto Rican immigrants, who transformed many of the traditional Catholic ethnic neighborhoods into solidly Hispanic enclaves while the older residents joined the flight to the suburbs. To meet this major pastoral challenge, Spellman established an Office of Spanish Catholic Action and made a major commitment of diocesan clergy. By 1961 the archdiocese had over 200 Spanish-speaking priests and approximately one-third of the parishes were providing religious services in Spanish.
After Vatican II (1962–1965), Spellman dutifully implemented the liturgical changes although he deplored them privately as "too many and too soon." He also divided the archdiocese into six vicariates, established an elected Senate of Priests and agreed to the creation of two experimental parishes headed by a team of priests. One of Spellman's proudest moments occurred on Oct. 4, 1965, when Pope Paul VI made a one-day visit to New York City and celebrated Mass in Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 92,000 worshippers. In the fall of 1966 (at the age of 77) he offered the pope his resignation, but it was refused. During the 1960s the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War, together with the impact of Vatican II, led to a period of unprecedented turmoil for American Catholics. By the time of Spellman's death on Dec. 2, 1967, the successful synthesis of Catholicism and Americanism that he once epitomized no longer seemed adequate to the needs of the day.
Cooke. The appointment on March 8, 1968, of Terence J. cooke as the seventh archbishop of New York was a surprise to many knowledgeable observers. A native New Yorker only 47 years old, Cooke was the youngest of the 10 auxiliary bishops and (with the exception of Hughes and Corrigan) the youngest ordinary ever appointed to New York. His selection was widely attributed to the influence of Spellman with whom he had been closely associated for the previous 10 years. Like Spellman, Cooke was also appointed Military Vicar for the Armed Forces (April 4, 1968) and was made a cardinal (April 28, 1969).
Cooke received his baptism of fire on the day of his installation, April 4, 1968, when the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., touched off riots throughout the country. That evening Cooke went to Harlem to plead for racial peace. He played little role in national or international affairs, except as chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities where he worked vigorously to combat abortion. However, he concentrated his attention on his own diocese, providing two much needed skills, managerial ability and pastoral sensitivity. An affable man who preferred conciliation to confrontation, he was also the master of the soft answer that turns away wrath but concedes nothing. A born micro-manager, he used his detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the archdiocese to administer carefully the available financial resources. Critics complained that his financial expertise was not matched by long-term vision, but his non-confrontational style of leadership spared New York the ideological polarization among the clergy that occurred in some other dioceses.
During Cooke's years as archbishop, the population of the archdiocese remained virtually the same, but only because Catholic immigrants, predominantly Hispanic, continued to replace the dwindling number of middle-class white Catholics. The sacramental statistics indicated an abrupt decline in religious practice. Infant baptisms fell from 50,219 in 1967 to 32,168 in 1984, and church weddings declined from 15,511 to 10,208. For the first time in history there was a sharp drop in the number of both diocesan priests (from 1,108 to 777) and diocesan seminarians (from 501 to 238). Under Spellman the number of parishes had increased by 34; under Cooke there was a net gain of only four parishes. In order to utilize better the diminishing resources, Cooke established the Inter-Parish Finance Commission, which levied a tax on all parishes and then used the income to subsidize the poorer parishes. By 1979 the total funds disbursed amounted to a whopping $26 million. As a result only 49 of the 305 parish elementary schools were forced to close despite a massive decline in enrollment (from 179,052 in 1967 to 89,853 in 1984) and the mass exodus of 3,257 of the 4,130 sisters from the classrooms.
Cooke consolidated the administrative offices of the archdiocese in a new Catholic Center on the East Side of Manhattan, established the Office of Pastoral Research, opened the St. John Neumann Residence for seminarians, founded the Archdiocesan Catechetical Institute, and organized the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which provided subsidies of over one million dollars per year to minority students (two-thirds of them non-Catholic) in parochial schools. Sensitive to the demographic changes in the archdiocese, he appointed the first black and Hispanic auxiliary bishops, created the Office of Black Catholics and supported the Northeast Center for Hispanics. As Military Vicar he discreetly defended U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and also continued Spellman's practice of frequent visits to troops overseas.
Not all of the leadership in the archdiocese came from the top. In South Bronx, the poorest Congressional district in the United States, as crime, arson and the abandonment of buildings engulfed 20 square miles of the borough in the early 1970s, parish priests and religious organized community action groups and sponsored urban renewal projects to stop the decline. Jill Jonnes, the historian of the Bronx, wrote in 1986: "The Catholic Church quietly emerged as the institution most committed to preserving and resurrecting the benighted South Bronx. Not one church or Catholic school was closed." In 1979, when the newly-elected Pope John Paul II made a twoday visit to New York City, he overrode the security concerns of the police and stopped in both Harlem and the South Bronx before celebrating Mass in Yankee Stadium.
On Aug. 26, 1983, after a secret eight-year struggle with cancer, Cooke revealed to the public that he was terminally ill. After his death on Oct. 6, 1983, large crowds filed past his bier and attended his funeral in tribute to the inspiring way that he had faced death. The New York Daily News commented: "[He] showed us all how to pass from time to eternity with courage and grace."
O'Connor. Cooke's successor was John J. o'connor, a native of Philadelphia, who was appointed the eighth archbishop of New York on Jan. 31, 1984. He had served in the Military Ordinariate as auxiliary bishop to Cooke from 1979 until 1983 when he became the bishop of Scranton. Prior to that, he had spent 27 years as a navy chaplain, rising to Chief of Chaplains with the rank of Rear Admiral. O'Connor was made a cardinal on May 25, 1958. On that same day the Military Ordinariate was separated from New York, ending a personal connection that had existed under the three previous archbishops since 1917.
Despite his 64 years, O'Connor adopted a busy schedule that he maintained almost to the end of his 16 years in New York. He preached virtually every Sunday in St. Patrick's Cathedral and made frequent pastoral visits throughout the archdiocese as well as numerous trips to Rome. Unlike Cooke, he adopted a high profile and signaled his intention to give New York the same national prominence that it had enjoyed under Spellman. Unlike Spellman, however, who relied on personal political and business connections, O'Connor made deft use of his communications skills to influence public opinion through the media. An admirer of the feisty John Hughes, the first archbishop of New York, O'Connor seemed to welcome public confrontation over controversial issues like abortion. The New York Times, often a critic of O'Connor, grudgingly admitted in 1998 that he was "perhaps the one person in New York with a platform to rival that of the mayor" and shortly before his death acknowledged him as "the de facto leader of American Catholics."
Between 1984 and 2000 the Catholic population of the archdiocese increased from 1,839,000 to 2,407,393, constituting 45% of the total population. However, the number of baptisms remained virtually the same and the number of marriages declined by a quarter. The ethnic, economic and social diversity of the archdiocese was remarkable. One rural parish in Dutchess County contained 50,000 acres of private land for fox hunting, while in one Bronx parish 58% of the people lived below the poverty level. Mass was celebrated in at least 22 languages every Sunday with 135 of the 413 parishes providing Mass in Spanish. Hispanic Catholics included not only Puerto Ricans, but also Dominicans, Mexicans, and natives of many Central and South American countries. A new phenomenon was the influx of Asian Catholics from Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Immigrants from Albania, Palestine, Portugal, Haiti, and even an increase in immigration from Ireland, added to the ethnic mix.
The enrollment in the 303 Catholic elementary and high schools remained steady at around 100,000, with almost half of the students (many of them non-Catholics) coming from minority groups. The archdiocese also remained a major provider of health care and social services with 17 hospitals, three health care facilities, 17 homes for the aged, 14 child-caring institutions, and 129 social agencies operated by Catholic Charities. "They provided the best social services that were available," said Mayor Edward Koch. The staffing of parishes and schools became increasingly difficult since O'Connor in his later years was reluctant to close or consolidate them despite the decline in the number of diocesan priests (from 777 in 1984 to 563 in 2000), teaching sisters (from 873 to 236) and teaching brothers (from 93 to 60). On a more positive note, two new religious communities were founded, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the Sisters of Life, and the number of permanent deacons increased to 310.
O'Connor offered his resignation to the pope upon reaching 75 in 1995, but it was refused. That year Pope John Paul made his second visit to New York and celebrated Mass in Central Park with 125,000 people in attendance. In late August 1999 O'Connor underwent surgery for a brain tumor from which he never recovered and died on May 3, 2000.
Egan. The appointment of Edward Egan as the ninth archbishop of New York was announced on May 11, 2000, only eight days after the death of Cardinal O'Connor. A native of Oak Park, Illinois, Egan was ordained in Rome as a priest of the archdiocese of Chicago on Dec. 15, 1957. He returned to Rome to earn a doctorate in canon law and later to serve as a judge of the Roman Rota from 1971 until 1985. In that year he was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York where he served as the Vicar for Education until his appointment as the bishop of Bridgeport on Nov. 8, 1988. He was installed as archbishop of New York in St. Patrick's Cathedral on June 19, 2000, and was made a Cardinal on Feb. 21, 2001.
The bloody event of Sept. 11, 2001 made a lasting impact on the people of New York City, when Islamist terrorists in two hijacked commercial airplanes attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Center with a tremendous loss of lives. Every parish church held impromptu services and more formal services on September 14, a national day of morning. Some parishes in New York City and the suburbs suffered the loss of dozens of parishioners and celebrated memorial Masses for victims whose bodies were never recovered. An estimated 90% of the almost 400 police officers and firefighters who lost their lives in the collapse of the twin towers were Catholics. Among them was Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, the fire department chaplain, who was killed by falling debris while ministering to the dying. For weeks afterwards the crowded churches testified to the searing impact of the atrocity on the souls of all New Yorkers.
Like Spellman in 1939, one of Egan's main priorities was the restoration of the financial condition of the archdiocese, a task that he had already accomplished in the diocese of Bridgeport. In keeping with his goal of reducing the debt by $20 million over a two-year period, he consolidated the seminary faculties, streamlined the administrative offices of the archdiocese, closed a few ailing schools, reduced the weekly diocesan newspaper to a monthly, and gave clear indication of the need for further economies.
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[j. a. reynolds/
t. j. shelley]