Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Diocese of Duluth

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 5
diocese of Duluth

by Thomas Francis Meehan

DIOCESE OF DULUTH (DULUTHENSIS)

Diocese, established 3 Oct., 1889, suffragan of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, U.S.A., comprises the counties of Aitkin, Becker, Beltrami, Carlton, Cass, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Lake, Marshall, Norman, Pine, Polk, Roseau, Red Lake, Mahnomen, Koochiching, and St. Louis, in the State of Minnesota, an area of 39,439 square miles.

The first white men and the first Catholics to visit this region were the French fur-traders who, under Groseilliers, are recorded as having shipped furs from there in 1660. Daniel Greysolon Du Lhut, the French officer, adventurer, and fur-trader after whom the see city is named, was there in 1679. After a varying existence as trading post and frontier settlement, Duluth was incorporated as a town in May, 1857. The first priest in Minnesota was the famous Father Hennepin, who in 1680 was a prisoner among the Sioux. He explored the Mississippi and at St. Paul named the falls in honour of St. Anthony, writing a glowing description of them in 1683. Wandering missionaries made infrequent visits to the Indian tribes and scattered Catholics of the region down to 1839, when the Rev. Joseph Crétin (q. v.), a zealous French priest, began an active and successful missionary career.

The Seventh Provincial Council of Baltimore (1849) recommended to Rome the erection of a new see at St. Paul for the Territory of Minnesota and the appointment of Father Crétin as its first bishop, which plan was carried out. Father Crétin had been in the territory for some time, trying to revive the old Indian missions and evangelize the Canadian voyageurs who went there for the fur trade. The numerous Indians roaming in the wilderness had nearly forgotten the doctrines of Christianity preached to their ancestors by the Recollects and Jesuits more than a century before, but they were still anxious to have the "black-robes" come among them once more. In 1875 the Vicariate Apostolic of Northern Minnesota was established, and these two divisions of the whole State continued until 4 May, 1888, when St. Paul was raised to the rank of an archdiocese with the four suffragan sees of Duluth, Winona, Jamestown (now Fargo), and St. Cloud, the last-named being the new title for the Vicariate of Northern Minnesota. Duluth, the see city, was within these old limits of the vicariate. In 1866 the few Catholics there were brought together by a visiting missionary. They numbered only about two dozen families in 1870, and Father John Chebul, an Austrian by birth, attended them as a mission from Superior and built the first frame chapel for their use. Other priests of the formative period were Fathers G. Keller, a German, J. B. M. Génin, a French Oblate, Joseph Buh, Charles Verwyst, Joseph Staub, Christopher Murphy, and G. J. Goebel.

THE REV. JAMES McGOLRICK, a member of the council of Bishop Ireland of St. Paul and rector of the church of the Immaculate Conception, Minneapolis, was nominated as the first bishop of the new see and consecrated at St. Paul, 27 Dec., 1889. He was born 1 May, 1841, at Borrisokane, County Tipperary, Ireland, and ordained for the American mission at All Hallows Seminary, near Dublin, 11 June, 1867. Emigrating to the United States, he began his work at St. Paul as an assistant at the cathedral. He was next appointed to establish a parish in the then rising town of Minneapolis and remained there for twenty-two years as pastor of the church of the Immaculate Conception. He found, on taking charge of his new diocese, a Catholic population of about 19,000, of which 3000 were Indians. There were 20 priests, 15 secular and 5 regular; 34 churches, 10 stations, and 8 Chippewa Indian missions attended by Benedictine, Franciscan, and Jesuit missionaries.

The first railroad from Duluth to St. Paul ran only in 1870, and in 1882 the first iron-range road, on which industry the chief reliance for material prosperity rested. The commercial panics of 1872 and 1893 were great blows to this section, but in ten years the priests had increased to 38 and the missions and stations to 74 with 30 Indian missions and stations. The Sisters of St. Benedict had been introduced and were in charge of 9 parish and 2 Indian schools, with 1400 children. They also managed 2 hospitals and a home for the aged. The Catholic population had also increased to 23,000. Since then conditions have bettered, and the statistics of the diocese for 1908 give these figures: priests 65, 44 secular, 21 regular; churches with resident priests 50; missions with churches 36; stations 45; chapels 15; academies for girls 3, with 395 pupils; parish schools 10, with 1586 pupils; Indian industrial schools 2, with 192 pupils; orphan asylum 1; hospitals 6; Catholic population 54,300, White 50,000, Indian 4300. The religious communities represented in the diocese are the Benedictine and the Oblate Fathers, the Christian Brothers, the Benedictine Sisters, and the Sisters of St. Joseph. The Benedictine Fathers have charge of the Indian missions, and the Benedictine Sisters attend to the needs of the schools established for the benefit of the Indian children, their industrial schools on the Red Lake and White Earth reservations being especially successful in spite of scant means and other disadvantages. The constant good done by these institutions, for the girls of the tribes especially, has been manifested by every test applied to their operation. The Christian Brothers have a high school attached to the cathedral in Duluth.

REUSS, "Biog. Cycl. of the Hierarchy of U.S." (Milwaukee, 1898); "Catholic News" (New York, Dec., 1889), files; "Directory of Cathedral Parish" (Duluth, 1905); "Catholic Directory U.S." (Milwaukee, 1889-1909); THEBAUD, "Forty Years in the U.S." (New York, 1904); RAVOUX, "Memoirs" (St. Paul, 1892); Documents in archives of Archdiocese of St. Paul and St. Paul Catholic Historical Society.

THOMAS F. MEEHAN

Transcribed for John E. Coons