« St. Leander of Seville Leavenworth Lebanon »



Diocese of Leavenworth (Leavenworthensis).

Suffragan to St. Louis. When established, 22 May, 1877, it comprised the State of Kansas, U. S. A., with the Right Rev. Louis Mary Fink, O.S.B. as its first bishop. At his request, ten years later the Holy See divided the diocese into three: Wichita, Concordia, and Leavenworth. Leavenworth was then restricted to the 43 counties lying east of Republic, Cloud, Ottawa, Saline McPherson, Harvey, Sedgwick and Sumner Counties. The diocese had an area of 28,687 sq. m., with a total population in 1890, of 901,536. Authorized by the Holy See, Bishop Fink on 29 May, 1891, took up his residence in Kansas City, Kans., and the diocese was named after this city for some years. Apostolic letters dated 1 July, 1897, further diminished the territory of the diocese in favour of Concordia and Wichita. It now includes only the Counties of Anderson, Osage, Pottawatomie, Shawnee Wabaunsee, Wyandotte, Jackson, Jefferson, Linn, Lyon, Marshall, Miami, Nemaha, Atchison, Brown, Coffey, Doniphan, Douglas, Franklin, Johnson, and Leavenworth; an area of 12,594 sq. miles.

The first missionary to the wild Indians of the plains, within the present borders of Kansas, was Father Juan de Padilla. He obtained the martyr's crown just fifty years after Columbus discovered the New World. The first permanent Indian missions in these parts were established by the Jesuit Fathers among the Potawatomies and Osages. The latter originally dwelt on both sides of the Missouri. They knew of Father Marquette and had implored Father Garvier to preach to them. Two Franciscan friars had been among them in 1745. Bishop Dubourg promised them missionaries in 1820. The Pottawatomies came from Michigan and Indiana. Some hundreds of them had been baptized by the Rev. S. T. Badin of Kentucky, the first priest ordained in the United States. In Indiana, Father Deseilles was succeeded among the Potawatomies by Father Petit, who accompanied them to the confines of their new reservation in the Indian Territory, which then included Kansas. The Indian converts were confirmed by Bishop P. Kenrick in 1843, and by Bishop Barron in 1845. An Indian priest of the Oklahoma Diocese is descended from the Pottawatomies and was born in Kansas. In 1845 by the zealous efforts of the Jesuit missionaries, Catholic prayer-books in the Pottawatomie dialect were given to the Indians. Manual training schools for girls and boys had been established some years previously. The latter were conducted by the Jesuits. Bishop Rosati wrote from Europe that Gregory XVI would be delighted to have a Sacred Heart school among the Indians. In the year 1841 the Religious of the Sacred Heart opened a school among the Pottawatomies under the leadership of Mother Philippine-Rose Duchesne. Manual training schools were established among the Osages in 1847. Here also the boys' school was under the conduct of the Jesuits; but the girls' school was in charge of the Sisters of Loretto.

Kansas was under the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical superiors of Louisiana until St. Louis was made an episcopal see. The Vicariate Apostolic of the Indian Territory east of the Rocky Mountains included the present states of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, that part of North and South Dakota west of the Missouri River, Wyoming, Montana, and a part of Colorado. It was placed under Rt. Rev. John B. Miège, S.J., who was appointed vicar Apostolic, and consecrated Bishop of Messenia, in St. Louis, 25 March, 1851. Accompanied by Father Paul Ponziglione, S.J., who was to devote himself for forty years to the Indians and early white settlers of the new vicariate, Bishop Miège arrived among the Pottawatomies on the Kansas River, where now stands St. Mary's College, in May of that year. The founder of the Pottawatomie mission of the Immaculate Conception, Father Christian Hoecken, S.J., while ascending the Missouri River with Father P.J. de Smedt, died of cholera, at the age of forty-three years (19 June, 1851), fifteen of which were passed among the Indians in the Missouri Valley.

Bishop Miège was born 18 September, 1815, at La Forêt, Upper Savoy, Italy. He studied classics and philosophy at the diocesan seminary of Moutiers where his elder brother Urban was a teacher for over forty years. He entered the Society of Jesus at Milan 23 Oct., 1836; was ordained priest 7 Sept. 1847, at Rome, where he was professor of Philosophy in the Roman College. Driven from Italy by the political troubles of the following year, he was sent at his own request to the Indian Missions in the United States. In 1849 he was assistant pastor of St. Charles's church at St. Charles, Missouri. In 1850 he was socius of the master of novices at Florissant. He also taught moral theology there. The vicariate subjected to his jurisdiction in 1851 consisted mostly of Indian missions. There were five churches, ten Indian Nations, and eight priests, with a Catholic population of almost 5000, of whom 3000 were Indians. He was an indefatigable missionary, traversing on horseback and by wagon for years the wild remote regions over which his people were scattered, visiting the Indian villages, forts, trading posts, and growing towns. In August, 1855, there were seven Catholic families in Leavenworth, and he moved his residence from the Pottawatomie mission, to this city for a permanent location to minister to the fast increasing tide of immigration that had turned to Kansas. In 1856 the Benedictines began a foundation at Donipfan, near Atchison, but a short time afterwards they established a priory and a college in the latter city. They were followed by the Carmelites in 1864. Father Theodore Heimann, a German, who later joined the Carmelite Fathers; Father J. H. Defouri, from Savoy; and Father Ambrose T. Butler, from Ireland were among the first secular priests to come to the assistance of Bishop Miège, who was represented at the second Plenary Council of Baltimore, and went to Rome in 1853. He assisted at provincial councils in St. Louis in 1855 and 1858. The bishop soon had a parochial school wherever there was a resident priest. He built a noble cathedral at Leavenworth. Before leaving for the (Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, he appointed the Very Rev. L. M. Fink, Prior of St. Benedict's, vicar-general in spiritualibus, and Father Michael J. Corbett, administrator in temporalibus. Nebraska, part of the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana) continued until May, 1859. The increase in the Kansas Territory, which extended west to the Rocky Mountains, was steady. Desiring to return to the ranks of the Society of Jesus, Bishop Miège petitioned to be allowed to resign his episcopal jurisdiction, and in 187d1 a coadjutor was given him in the Very Rev. Louis M. Fink, prior of the Benedictine monastery at Atchison, and who had as a priest worked on the missions in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Illinois. He was consecrated at Chicago 11 June, 1871, titular Bishop of Eucarpia.

Bishop Miège then went on a begging tour in aid of the vicariate and spent three years collecting in South America. His petition to be allowed to resign was granted in December, 1874, when he returned to his order, being assigned to the house of studies at Woodstock, Maryland. In 1877 he was sent to Detroit where he founded a college and remained untl 1880, when he was appointed spiritual director at Woodstock for three years. Here he died 21 July, 1884.

In 1874 Bishop Fink took charge of the vicariate on the resignation of Bishop Miège; and 22 May, 1877, it was established as the Diocese of Leavenworth, and his title was transferred to this see. He was born 12 July, 1834, at Triftersberg, Baveria, and emigrated in boyhood to the United States. He entered the Benedictine Order in September, 1852, and was ordained priest at St. Vincent's Abbey, Beatty, Pennsylvania, 27 May, 1857. When he assumed jurisdiction in 1874, there were within the boundaries of Kansas 65 priests, 88 churches, 3 colleges, 4 academies, 1 hospital, 1 orphan asylum, 13 parish schools with 1700 pupils; and communities of Benedictine, Jesuit, and Carmelite priests; of Religious of the Sacred Heart, of Sisters of St. Benedict, of Sisters of Charity, and of Sisters of Loretto; with a Catholic population of nearly 25,000. In 1887 there were in Kansas 137 priests, and 216 churches. The decrees of the diocesan synod are admirable. The two new dioceses of Wichita and Concordia took from the diocese over 69,000 sq. miles. The parochial schools were placed under the supervision of a diocesan board that selects textbooks, and examines teachers and pupils. He fostered the Association of the Holy Childhood, the sodalities of the Blessed Virgin, and the Holy Angels; established the Confraternity of the Holy Family throughout the diocese and acted as diocesan director of the League of the Sacred Heart. Bishop Fink took part in the Third Council of Baltimore, and sedulously endeavoured to enforce its decrees. He continued to promote the progress of the Church until his death, 17 March, 1904.

There were then 110 priests, 100 churches, 13 stations and chapels, 37 parochial schools, 4000 pupils, and 35,000 Catholics. On his demise the Very Rev. Thomas Moore, who had been vicar-general since 1899, was made Apostolic administrator.

The successor of Bishop Fink was the Very Rev. Thomas F. Lillis, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Kansas City, who was born at Lexington, Missouri, in 1862, and ordained priest in 1885. He was consecrated Bishop of Leavenworth, in Kansas City, 27 December, 1904. His episcopal administration of the Leavenworth Diocese was eminently successful. The growth of the Church under his jurisdiction was marked by the foundation of new congregations, and the building of churches and parochial schools. Catholic societies were strengthened and the diocesan statutes revised to enforce the decrees of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimeore under present conditions. He adopted practical means of enforcing the papal "Motu Proprio"' on Church music. In March, 1910, he was appointed coadjutor to the Bishop of Kansas City, Missouri, cum jure successionis.


Orders of men: Benedictines, Carmelites, Franciscans, Jesuits. Women: Sisters of St. Benedict, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of St. Frances, Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis, Sisters of St. Joseph, Oblate Sisters of Providence (coloured), Ursuline Sisters, Felician Sisters, Franciscan Sisters, Sisters of the Precious Blood. Priests, 143 (regulars, 71); churches with resident priests 76, missions with churches 46, stations 7, chapels 8, brothers 71, sisters 160; diocesan seminary, 1, seminary for religious 1; colleges and academies for boys 2, students 750; academies for young ladies 3, pupils 325, parochial schools 39, pupils 5700; high schools 2; orphan asylums 2, inmates 130; young people under Catholic care 6900; hospitals, 4; Catholic population 56,000. The Ursuline academy at Paola with 30 sisters was founded from Louisville in 1895. Mt. St. Scholastica's convent, established in 1863 subject to a prioress, has one hundred and seventy-five professed sisters with schools in the Dioceses of Cibcirduam Davenport, Kansas City, Sioux City, and Leavenworth with 3680 pupils. They conduct an academy at Atchison. The Sisters of Charity have a mother-house at St. Mary's Academy at Leavenworth since 1858. There are over 500 Sisters conducting establishments in the Archdiocese of Santa Fé, and in the Dioceses of Denver, Great Falls, Helena, and Leavenworth, with 8000 patients yearly in hospitals, 525 orphans, and 6000 pupils. St. Margaret's Hospital, Kansas City, Kansas, in charge of Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis, has 3000 patients annually.

St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, founded over fifty years ago, has 1 abbot, 51 monks, 11 clerics, 13 brothers. The Benedictine Fathers conduct St. Benedict's College, a boarding school with 300 pupils. St. Mary's College, a boarding school with 450 pupils, conducted by the Jesuit Fathers is the development of the Mission School which the Jesuits established among the Pottawatomie Indians in 1841. There are churches for the Croatians, Slovaks, Slovenians, Poles, Bohemians, and Germans as well as for the English-speaking congregations. The majority of the Catholics in the diocese are Irish and Germans who came to America over fifty years ago, and their descendants. A goodly proportion of the clergy ordained during the past twenty-five years are natives of the state. Several of the clergy are still active, after more than a quarter of a century of pastoral duties. The Rt. Rev. Mgr Ant. Kuhls, ordained in 1863, retired to St. Margaret's Hospital after forty-five years of zealous work.

(See Duchesne, Philippine-Rose; Kansas.)

Defouri, Original Diaries and Letters of Jesuit Missionaries; Catholic Directory, 1851-1910; Clarke, Lives of the Deceased Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States, III (New York, 1888), 611 sqq.; Reuss, Bio. Cycl. Of the Catholic Hierarchy in U. S. (Milwaukee, 1898); Western Watchman (St. Louis, Missouri), files.


« St. Leander of Seville Leavenworth Lebanon »
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