Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Archdiocese of Oregon City

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 11
Archdiocese of Oregon City

by Edwin Vincent O'Hara


(OREGONOPOLITAN).

Includes that part of the state of Oregon west of the Cascade Mountains, being bounded on the east by the counties of Wasco, Crook, and Klamath. It comprises an area of 21,398 square miles. By an indult of the Holy See dated 28 February, 1836, the Oregon Country north of the American line was annexed to the vicariate Apostolic of Mgr Provencher of Red River. By letters of 17 April, 1838, Rev. F.N. Blanchet was appointed vicar-general to the Archbishop of Quebec and assigned to the Oregon mission. The vicar-general established his first mission at St. Paul on the Willamette, and on 6 January, 1839, dedicated at that place the first Catholic church in Oregon. The church had been constructed three years earlier by the Canadian settlers who had anticipated the coming of a missionary among them.

As the line of demarcation between British and American territory was still undecided, and missionary priests had been sent into the country both from Canada and from the United States (De Smet had come from St. Louis), Oregon became a joint mission depending upon the Bishops of Quebec and Baltimore. At the suggestion of these bishops, the mission was erected in a vicariate Apostolic by a brief of 1 December, 1843. On 24 July, 1846, the vicariate was transformed into a province comprising the Archdiocese of Oregon City and the Dioceses of Walla Walla and Vancouver's Island. With the transfer of the See of Walla Walla to Nesqually (1848), the northern boundary of the Archdiocese of Oregon City was fixed at the Columbia River and the 46° lat. This territory was diminished by the erection of the Vicariate of Idaho (1868) and finally received its present limits by the erection of the Diocese of Baker City (1903).

Bishops:


  • François Norbert Blanchet (q.v.), b. 3 September, 1795, consecrated 25 July, 1845. There were in the diocese in 1845 ten priests, thirteen Sisters of Notre-Dame, and two educational institutions. The first priest ordained in Oregon was Father Jayol, the ceremony being performed by Archbishop Blanchet at St. Paul, 19 September, 1847. On 30 November, the archbishop consecrated at St. Paul, Bishop Demers of Vancouver's Island. He convened the First Provincial Council of Oregon City, 28 February, 1848. On 21 December, Archbishop Blanchet left St. Paul and took up his residence at Oregon City. In 1852 the first church in the City of Portland was dedicated under the title of the Immaculate Conception. It became the pro-cathedral when Archbishop Blanchet moved to Portland in 1862.
  • Charles John Seghers, b. 26 December, 1839, at Ghent, successor to the pioneer bishop Demers of Vancouver's Island, was transferred to Oregon City, 10 December, 1878, and become coadjutor to Archbishop Blanchet who at once retired from active life. Archbishop Seghers is remembered for his heroic devotion to the Indian missions of Alaska (q.v.), which led him to resign the See of Oregon City in 1884.
  • William H. Gross (consecrated Bishop of Savannah, 1873) was promoted to the archiepiscopal See of Oregon City, 1 February, 1885, and invested with the pallium in Portland by His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons 9 Oct. On his death 14 November, 1898, he was succeeded by the present archbishop.
  • Most Rev. Alexander Christie (consecrated Bishop of Vancouver's Island, 29 June, 1898) was promoted to the archiepiscopal See of Oregon City, 12 February, 1899.

Statistics for 1909: diocesan priests, 50; priests of rel. orders, 40; colleges, 3; secondary schools, 12; elementary schools, 35; pupils, 5500. BLANCHET, Historical Sketches (Portland, 1870); The Catholic Sentinel (Portland, 1870-1910), files; Catholic Directory; Diocesan Archives.

Edwin V. O'Hara.