Weninger, Francis Xavier
WENINGER, FRANCIS XAVIER
Missionary and author; b. Styria, Austria, Oct. 31, 1805; d. Cincinnati, Ohio, June 29, 1888. Under the patronage of the Empress Carolina Augusta of Austria, Weninger studied at the University of Vienna, where he was ordained and received a doctorate in divinity in 1830. He was appointed to the theological faculty of the University of Graz, but resigned in 1832 to enter the Society of Jesus. Weninger then taught theology (notably at Innsbruck, 1834–48), published many books, and gained fame as a preacher of parish missions. When the Jesuits were suppressed in Austria during the Revolution of 1848, he volunteered for the U.S. and was assigned to Cincinnati, Ohio. There he preached missions in German-speaking parishes and soon achieved a nationwide and enduring reputation. So remarkable was his influence with German-Americans that his mission in St. Louis Church, Buffalo, New York, ended the schism that had previously defeated the efforts of Abps. John hughes and Gaetano bedini and Bp. John timon. For a generation, he was in constant demand and traveled continuously throughout the U.S., preaching missions in German, French, and broken English. It is estimated that by 1880 he had traveled over 200,000 miles, given more than 800 parish missions, and preached 30,000 times.
Prolific in writing as well as in preaching, Weninger considered his books more important than his missions and published works on catechetics, apologetics, and the liturgy; handbooks for the clergy; advice for the laity; and collections of his sermons. Carlos Sommervogel, Jesuit bibliographer, lists 56 titles—written in Latin, German, and English, many multi-volumed, many often reprinted, some translated into Italian and French—that in Weninger's day were both useful and popular. Although advancing age curtailed his activities, Weninger was still preaching parish missions at the age of 80.
Bibliography: g. j. garraghan, Jesuits in the the Middle United States, 3 v. (New York 1938) v.2. "Father Francis Xavier Weninger," Woodstock Letters 18 (1889) 43–68. c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothéque de la Compagnie de Jésus (Brussels-Paris 1890–1932) 8:1065–71.
[f. x. curran]