Timon, John

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First bishop of Buffalo, New York; b. Conewago Township, Pennsylvania., Feb. 12, 1797; d. Buffalo, April 16, 1867. John was three years old when his family left a log-cabin home to settle in Baltimore, Maryland. At 15 he enrolled at Mt. St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Maryland. In 1818 the family migrated to Louisville, Kentucky, and the next year he went on to St. Louis, Missouri, where Timon came under the influence of the Vincentian Felix De Andreis. Timon went to study for the diocesan priesthood with Bp. Louis Dubourg of St. Louis, but in July 1822 he transferred to the Vincentian seminary, St. Mary-of-the-Barrens in Perry County. He pronounced his vows on June 10, 1825, and on Sept. 23, 1826, he was ordained by Bp. Joseph Rosati. During the next ten years Timon was occupied with administrative duties at the Vincentian seminary, and also served as parish priest and traveling missionary. In 1835 he was designated first superior or visitor of the American Vincentians, just constituted an autonomous province. For 12 years (183547) he was the Vincentian superior and also vicar-general of the St. Louis diocese. Moreover, as prefect apostolic of Texas (183941) he was largely responsible for reestablishing the Church in the Lone Star Republic and earned the title "Apostle of Texas."

On April 23, 1847, Pius IX appointed him to Buffalo, a see recommended for erection by the Fifth Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1846. This was the seventh attempt to make Timon a bishop, and he accepted only because he feared that another refusal might brand him an intractable priest. He also feared that he might otherwise be commanded to become coadjutor of Louisville, a post he wished to avoid since slavery, which he detested, existed in Kentucky. He was consecrated by Bp. John Hughes on Oct. 17, 1847, in old St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City, and arrived in Buffalo five days later. Since there was no episcopal residence, Timon lived at St. Louis Church, the oldest in Buffalo. When the trustees evicted him a month later, he moved to St. Patrick's and made it his procathedral. The trustees' action, taken because of Timon's interest in the title deed of the church property, precipitated a long, bitter feud. In 1855 the state legislature passed the Church Property (Putnam) Bill forbidding property to be left to any ecclesiastical officer. Timon succeeded in having this law repealed, and in 1863 the Church Trustee Law, a model for other states, was enacted.

With funds from Pius IX, European monarchs, and other sources, Timon erected St. Joseph's Cathedral (185155), where he was buried.

Bibliography: Archives of the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y. r. bayard, Lone-Star Vanguard: The Catholic Reoccupation of Texas, 18381848 (St. Louis 1945). c. g. deuther, Life and Times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D.D. (Buffalo 1870). i. f. mogavero, That All May Know Thee: Centennial History of Niagara University, 18561956 (Philadelphia 1956).

[i. f. mogavero]