BIOGRAPHIES OF IMPORTANT FIGURES
IN THE HISTORY OF THE
ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK
Isaac Jogues was born in Orleans, France in 1607. Jogues entered the Jesuit novitiate at Rouen at the age of seventeen, then studied at the royal college of Lafleche. After his ordination, he was appointed to Canada and sailed with the governor of New France, Huault de Montmagny. In 1642, Huron country, were Jogues lived, was in great distress due to poor harvests. Jogues was chosen to lead the expedition to Quebec where there were vast arrays of supplies. The expedition reached its objective safely and started back well supplied with goods for the mission, but the Iroquois, the bitter enemies of the Hurons, and the fiercest of all Indian tribes, ambushed the returning expedition. Jogues remained a slave among the Mohawks, one of the Iroquois tribes. He owed his escape to the Dutch who learned of his imprisonment and set out to rescue him.
Jogues returned to Quebec, but he left behind a box of religious articles because he was resolved later to return to the Mohawks as a missionary. This box proved the immediate cause of his martyrdom. The Mohawks believed the box was full of evil, so when Jogues returned the Mohawks tortured him.
Saint Issac Jogues was the first priest to pass through Dutch New Amsterdam which occurred in 1643. He and his confreres, Rene Goupil and John Lalande, who were later proclaimed saints also, were the first and so far the only martyrs who died in what is now New York State. Jogues died October 18, 1646. Issac Jogues was canonized in 1930.
Kateri Tekakwitha was the first North American Indian candidate for canonization. She was born in Ossernenon (Auriesville), N.Y. in 1656. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin who was raised among the French at Three Rivers, taken captive by the Iroquois, and made the wife of a pagan chief of the Mohawk tribe. This marriage created two children, Tekakwitha and a younger boy. After losing her father, mother, and brother from a small pox epidemic, Kateri was taken into the home of her uncle at age 4. The disease left her disfigured and with impaired eyesight. In 1667 she had her first meeting with Christian missionaries, but it was not until 1675 and she met Rev. Jacques de Lamberville, who instructed her in the Christian faith and baptized her on Easter, April 5, 1676, giving her the name of Kateri, or Katharine.
Katharine’s conversion and her exemplary life stirred up so much opposition that the priest advised her to flee to the Christian Indian village on the St. Lawrence River, where she would be able to grow in virtue without external hindrance. After a trek of nearly 200 miles, she arrive at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal, in October 1677; she received her first Holy Communion there on Christmas Day. For the next 3 years, under the direction of Rev. Pierre Cholonec, and with the encouragement of an older Iroquois woman, Anastasia Tegonhatsihongo, she led a life of great austerity and charity.
On March 25, 1679 Katharine gave herself completely to Christ by a private vow of chastity which was a most exceptional act for an Indian woman, whose maintenance depended upon getting a husband. Her death at the age of 24, on April 17, 1680 in Caughnawaga, Canada, served as an inspiration to the Indian community and was followed by an extraordinary outburst of religious fervor among them. The there missionaries who knew her best, Jacques de Lamberville, Claude Chauchetiere, and Pierre Cholonec, left a collection of biographical data, written during the 35 years following her death. This together with other sources provided the documentation for her cause of beatification, which was introduced in Rome on July 11, 1932. The Tekakwitha League, located in Auriesville, publishes a quarterly and directs other activities to disseminate knowledge of her. Katharine Tekakwitha was beatified June 22, 1980 and canonized October 21, 2012.
Born in New York City, August 28, 1774, Elizabeth Bayley Seton was raised Episcopalian, and received a good education and careful character training. In 1794, she married a wealthy merchant, William Magee Seton. They had five children. Her husband lost his great fortune, and they undertook a sea voyage to Italy, where they stayed in the home of the Filicchi family, a devout Roman Catholic family. After her husband’s death, Elizabeth came to know and appreciate the Catholic faith under the tutelage of the Filicchi’s. She returned to New York in 1803, and despite opposition from family and friends, was received into the Roman Catholic Church at St. Peter’s on Barclay Street on March 4, 1805. Abandoned by family and deprived by prejudice from earning a livelihood, she went to Canada. In 1807, she was invited to come to Baltimore to found a school for girls. Shortly thereafter, Father William Dubourg, a Sulpician and Bishop John Carroll allowed her to admit subjects to the sisterhood. She moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland, in 1809 and revised her rule according to that of the Sisters of Charity founded by St. Vincent de Paul. It was during these years that she laid the foundation for the parochial school system. She sent sisters to an orphanage in Philadelphia in 1814 and in 1817 to one in New York City. She died on January 4, 1821. She was declared venerable on December 18, 1959, beatified on March 17, 1963 and canonized on September 14, 1973.
Born in Bohemia on March 18, 1811, John Neumann was educated in Bohemia at the gymnasium of the Pious Workers and entered the diocesan seminary in 1831. Two years later he transferred to the school of theology at the Charles Ferdinand University in Prague. He completed his studies in 1835, but was not immediately ordained because the Diocese of Budweis was sufficiently staffed with priests. Resolved to become a missionary in America, he set out for New York unordained and with a suit of clothes and a dollar. He was ordained by Bishop John Dubois for the Diocese of New York on June 25, 1836. After serving four years near Buffalo, he entered the Redemptorist in Baltimore and was the first Redemptorist to be professed in America. Eventually he became viceregent and later vice provincial of the Redemptorist. He placed the Redemptorist at the forefront of the parochial school movement. He became bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. During his tenure over 80 churches were constructed in the diocese. He established Forty Hours devotion there, and visited every parish annually. He died January 5, 1860, and became the first American bishop to be beatified on October 13, 1963. He was canonized January 19, 1977.
Born in Italy on July 15, 1850, Frances Xavier Cabrini was educated at first by her sister, a village teacher, and then by the Daughters of the Sacred Heart. She was refused entrance to the Daughters of the Sacred Heart because of frailty due to smallpox. She taught at Vidardo; and in 1874, Don Antonio Serrati encouraged her to do charitable work at the House of Providence orphanage in Cadugno. There she assumed the religious habit and made vows in September, 1877.
The orphanage closed in 1880, and the Bishop made her prioress of the Institute of Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The foundation was formally approved by Rome in 1888. At the insistence of Pope Leo XIII and Bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini of Piacenza, she went to the United States; and on March 23, 1889, she sailed for New York with six sisters.
In New York, Mother Cabrini worked among the Italian immigrants, establishing orphanages, schools and adult classes in Christian doctrine. She founded Columbus Hospital, which became state approbated in 1895. She became a naturalized citizen in 1909 and was elected superior general for life in 1910. She founded convents, schools, orphanages and hospitals across the United States and in South America and Europe. Despite poor health, she crossed the sea 30 times and established 67 houses with 1500 sisters worldwide in 35 years. She died of malaria in Columbus Hospital, Chicago. Her body is preserved in the chapel of Mother Cabrini High School in New York City.
Mother Cabrini was canonized on July 7, 1964 by Pope Pius XII.
Venerable Fulton John Sheen was born on May 8, 1895 in El Paso, Illinois. Before his ordination in September 1919, Sheen studied at the Saint Paul Seminary in Minnesota, and later continued his academic pursuits at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He was consecrated a bishop on June 11, 1951 and served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York from 1951 to 1965.
Archbishop Sheen began his career in media with a weekly Sunday night radio broadcast in 1930 called, The Catholic Hour. After two decades, the broadcast had a weekly listening audience of four million. Archbishop Sheen switched his medium to television in 1951 and began a weekly television program called Life is Worth Living, challenging the ratings of entertainment giants like Frank Sinatra. He won an Emmy Award for the program in 1952.
Archbishop Sheen also served as the national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and was later appointed the Archbishop of Rochester in 1966 where he continued to work in television. He died of heart disease on December 9, 1979, and was buried in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Archbishop Sheen’s cause for canonization was officially opened in 2002.
Pierre Toussaint was born in slavery on June 27, 1766. At that time, Haiti, then known as Saint Domingue, was in the midst of slave rebellion in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Pierre’s master took his wife and five slaves to New York to live. One of those slaves was Pierre Toussaint. He apprenticed Pierre to a hairdresser, and Pierre showed himself to be a master at the trade. After his master’s death, it was Pierre who supported his master’s widow and her household.
During this time, Pierre Toussaint daily attended St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street. When his master’s widow became gravely ill and was near death, she arranged for Pierre’s freedom. After her death, Pierre continued to live in the household, and from time to time managed to purchase the freedom of other slaves. In 1811, he married Juliette Noel. Their home was noted as a refuge for orphan black children, and they found jobs for them and found them trades. During the various plagues of yellow fever and cholera in New York City, Pierre went through barricades to nurse the sick. Throughout his life he continued to help orphans, priests, and all who were in need. He died on June 30, 1853. He was buried in Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Mott Street.
On December 5, 1989, Cardinal O’Connor officially began the cause of Pierre Toussaint’s canonization.
His remains were re-interred in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on December 8, 1990.
Born in Brooklyn, New York on November 8, 1897, Dorothy Day was raised in an Episcopalian household by her middle class parents in both San Francisco and Chicago. After two years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Day relocated to New York City on the Lower East Side. Day began to explore her passion for religion between 1925 and 1929, around the time of the birth of her daughter, Tamar Teresa. Day was baptized in the Catholic Church in 1927. Day supported herself and her daughter through a career in journalism, and it was during an assignment watching protestors in Washington DC where Day decided to take a greater role in social activism. In 1933, Day co-founded The Catholic Worker, a newspaper promoting Catholic teachings and tackling societal issues. The newspaper spawned the Catholic Worker Movement, which aimed to fight social injustice with religious principle. The movement supported labor unions, human rights, and the development of a nonviolent culture. As a result of the movement’s emphasis on hospitality, Day helped establish homes for the poor that helped provide shelter, food, and clothing.
Day dedicated her life to Catholicism and her social beliefs. She died on November 29, 1980 in one of the very homes she had helped establish. Cardinal O’Connor opened her cause for sainthood in March 2000, which was granted by Pope John Paul II. The nomination received its endorsement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in November 2012.
Born March 1, 1921, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Terence Cooke was baptized in Corpus Christi Church. He was ordained to the priesthood by Francis Cardinal Spellman on December 1, 1945.
On September 15, 1965, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York and Titular Bishop of Summa. He was consecrated Bishop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on December 13. On March 8, 1968, he was named Seventh Archbishop and Tenth Bishop of New York. He was installed April 4 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. One May 1, 1969, he was created Cardinal by Pope Paul VI. He was the first Cardinal Archbishop of New York to have graduated from St. Joseph’s Seminary. In 1970, Cardinal Cooke established the Catholic Charities and Education Appeal, and in October 1970, he created the Office of Pastoral Research. In 1971, he announced the Catholic Center--a consolidation of Cathedral High School, St. John the Evangelist Church and the office of the Archdiocese of New York at 1011 First Avenue. In 1974, Trinity Retreat for clergy was established in Larchmont, N.Y. 1979 marked the 100th anniversary celebration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and 1983 marked the 175th anniversary of the Archdiocese of New York. In September,1981, the first issue of the Archdiocesan newspaper, Catholic New York, was published. Cardinal Cooke hosted a Papal Visit of Pope John Paul II in October 1979.
During the administration of Cardinal Cooke, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was restored, inside and outside, and several new shrines were added.
Cardinal Cooke died on October 6, 1983, following a long bout with cancer. His inspiring life and death lead to the introduction of his cause for canonization one year after his death.
Isaac Thomas Hecker was born on December 18, 1818 in New York City, the youngest child of Protestant German immigrants. A deeply religious young man, Hecker was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church in 1844 and was ordained as a priest in London in 1849. Hecker was determined to bring the Catholic Church to the United States. While in Rome, Hecker thought the best way to serve the church would be to establish a congregation of priests focused on conversion in the US. Pope Pius IX approved his plan, and the Missionary Priests of St. Paul the Apostle was formed. The group was popularly known as the Paulists, and was given a parish on 59th Street.
Between 1867 and 1869, Hecker delivered more than 56 lectures, traveling throughout the United States from Boston to Missouri and from Chicago to Hartford. During one Western tour, he traveled more than 4,500 miles and spoke to more than 30,000 people, two-thirds of whom were non-Catholics.
Hecker was stricken with leukemia in 1870, and could not continue his work as the Paulist director. He passed away from the disease in 1888. Cardinal Edward Egan formally opened Hecker’s cause for sainthood in 2008, and he is now officially known as Servant of God Isaac Thomas Hecker.