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Diocese of Manchester

Diocese in America

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Manchester, Diocese of (MANCHESTERIENSIS), suffragan of the Archdiocese of Boston, U.S.A. The city of Manchester is situated on the Merrimac River, in the State of New Hampshire, and was granted its charter July 10, 1846. Its population is about 70,000, nearly three-fifths of which is Catholic. There are in the city nine large Catholic churches with flourishing parish schools. There are also two small churches, a succursal chapel of the cathedral, and a Ruthenian Catholic church.

The Diocese of Manchester was established May 4, 1884, by a division of the Diocese of Portland which had included both Maine and New Hampshire. It comprises the entire State of New Hampshire, an area of 9305 sq. miles. The total population of the diocese is 412,000, of which 126,034 are Catholics.

Much of the early history of Manchester is bound up in the records of the Diocese of Portland, of which it formed a part for twenty-nine years. Mass was first celebrated in New Hampshire as early as 1694, but the real history of Catholicity can hardly be said to begin until a century and a quarter later. So few were Catholics at first, that up to 1822 there were not enough families in the entire state to warrant the appointment of even one resident priest. The first priest to be permanently located in New Hampshire was Rev. Virgil Barber, whom Bishop Cheverus in 1822 sent to Claremont, his native town, there to form the first Catholic parish in the state. Eight years later a small church was built at Dover. Two missionary priests, Fathers Canavan and John B. Daly, cared for the spiritual interests of the Catholics scattered throughout the state. In 1848 Manchester, with a Catholic population of 300, was given its first resident pastor, Rev. William McDonald, notable on account of his personal character and his establishment of religious, charitable, and educational institutions.

Denis Mary Bradley, the first bishop, was born in Castle Island, County Kerry, Ireland, February 23, 1846; d. December 13, 1903. At the age of eight he came to the United States, settling at Manchester. His early education was obtained at the parochial schools of Manchester and at Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts. On the completion of his academic course he entered St. Joseph‘s Seminary, Troy, New York, where, on June 3, 1871, he was ordained. He was assigned duties in Portland, Maine, and three years later Bishop Bacon appointed him chancellor of the diocese and rector of the cathedral, which offices he filled until June, 1880, when he came to Manchester as pastor of St. Joseph‘s Church. This appointment proved to be the first step towards the formation of the Diocese of Manchester, as four years later (May 4, 1884), Father Bradley was appointed Bishop of the newly-erected See of Manchester, and selected his parish church for the cathedral. His consecration took place June 11, 1884. Bishop Bradley was a man of tireless activity and rare sanctity. For almost twenty years he devoted his best efforts to the cause of religion in New Hampshire, and with wonderful success. At his consecration the diocese comprised a Catholic population of 45,000. The number of priests engaged in parish work and missionary labors was 37, officiating in as many churches. There were 3 orders of women with 89 members. At the bishop’s death the Catholic population was 104,000, and the priests numbered 107. There were resident pastors in 65 parishes, 67 missions were regularly attended, and there were 8 orders of women, and 4 of men; engaged in the Christian education of children and in charitable work.

John Bernard Delany, second Bishop of Manchester, b. August 9, 1864, in Lowell, Massachusetts; d. June 11, 1906; pursued his classical and philosophical studies at Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts, and Boston College, from which he was graduated in June, 1887. He studied for the priesthood at St. Sulpice, Paris, where he was ordained May 23, 1891. He served as curate at St. Anne’s Church, Manchester, and the Immaculate Conception Church, Portsmouth, and in 1898 came to the cathedral at Manchester as chancellor of the diocese and secretary to Bishop Bradley. While serving in this capacity he founded the “Guidon”, a Catholic monthly magazine and the official organ of the diocese, of which he was editor till his elevation to the episcopate (July 6, 1904). His consecration took place September 8, 1904.

George Albert Guertin, third Bishop of Manchester and present (1910) incumbent of the see, b. February 17, 1869, in Nashua, New Hampshire, was educated in the parochial schools of his native city, after which he went to St. Charles College, Sherbrooke, Province of Quebec, and St. Hyacinthe College, Province of Quebec, to pursue his classical studies. He then entered St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts, and was the first graduate of that institution who became a bishop. He was ordained on December 17, 1892. Having displayed zeal and ability in parochial work, he was appointed third Bishop of Manchester, January 2, 1907, and consecrated March 19, 1907. Under his guidance the diocese continues to grow steadily and healthily. It has a well-equipped educational system. There are 38 parochial schools, with a corps of 309 teachers and an enrolment of 13,100 pupils. There are: one boarding school conducted by the Sisters of Mercy, and three academies presided over by the Sisters of Jesus and Mary, Sisters of Providence, and Presentation Nuns respectively. A boarding college for boys and young men is under the supervision of the Benedictine Fathers. There are also five high schools for boys.

There are 4 hospitals; 7 orphan asylums, with 710 orphans; 1 infant asylum; 1 night refuge for girls; 5 homes for working girls; 4 homes for aged women; and 1 for old men. The Sisters of Mercy do most of this good work, and the Grey Nuns and Sisters of Providence care for three hospitals and orphanages. There are 118 secular and 19 regular priests laboring in the diocese. The Benedictine Fathers the Christian Brothers, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the Marist Brothers, and the Xaverian Brothers have communities, as have also the Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Jesus and Mary, Sisters of the Holy Cross, the Grey Nuns, the Benedictine Nuns, Presentation Nuns, Sisters of Providence, Sisters of the Precious Blood, and the Felician Sisters.


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