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Previous Bishops

Bishop Edward D. Fenwick, O.P.  (1768-1832)

Edward Dominic Fenwick was born at St. Mary’s County, Maryland, on Aug. 19, 1768. He was educated at Holy Cross College in Belgium, and entered the Dominican order on Sept. 4, 1788. He was ordained at St. Bavon, Ghent, on Feb. 23, 1793 and served assignments in England until returning to the United States in 1804. With the approval of Baltimore Bishop John Carroll, he undertook establishment of a province in Kentucky, where he was appointed superior. He was appointed first bishop of Cincinnati in 1821. His episcopal ordination was on Jan. 13, 1822, at St. Rose Priory in Kentucky. He died Sept. 26, 1832, in Wooster, Ohio, while on a missionary journey.

Archbishop John Baptist Purcell (1800-1883)

John Baptist Purcell was born at Mallow, County Cork, Ireland, on Feb. 26, 1800. He studied for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained  in Paris in 1826. In 1829 he was named president of Mount St. Mary. Bishop Purcell was appointed bishop of Cincinnati in 1833 and archbishop in 1850. In 1869 he took part in the First Vatican Council. Archbishop Purcell saw the Catholic population of Cincinnati increase from 7,000 Catholics, 14 priests and three churches to some 500,000 Catholics, 500 churches and 480 priests in the state, which then was divided into the dioceses of Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

In April 1880, he turned all affairs of the archdiocese over to the hands of his coadjutor, Bishop William H. Elder. He died in Brown County in 1883.

Bishop Sylvester H. Rosecrans (1827-1878)

Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester H. Rosecrans, a native of Homer, Ohio,  was ordained to the priesthood in 1853 and to the episcopacy in 1862, 11 years after the Diocese of Cincinnati was elevated to the status of an archdiocese. He served as auxiliary bishop of Cincinnati under Arch­bishop John B. Purcell for six years. In 1868, Archbishop Purcell’s auxiliary was named the first bishop of the new Diocese of Columbus.

Archbishop William H. Elder (1819-1904)

Archbishop William H. Elder was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 22, 1819 and received his seminary training at Mt. St. Mary in Emmitsburg. He was ordained in Rome in 1846. After 11 years as a professor of dogmatic theology at Mount St. Mary, he was named bishop of Natchez (Mississippi) in 1857. Although appointed coadjutor archbishop of San Francisco in 1878, he never fulfilled the assignment, believing himself more critically needed in Natchez. In 1880 he was appointed coadjutor to the archbishop of Cincinnati with right of succession. He succeeded as archbishop of Cincinnati July 4, 1883.

Following the 1903 appointment of Bishop Henry Moeller as his coadjutor, Archbishop Elder turned the administration of the archdiocese over  to his successor. He died Oct. 31, 1904.

Archbishop Henry K. Moeller  (1849-1925)

Archbishop Henry K. Moeller was born in Cincinnati on Dec. 11, 1849 — the first native son to lead the archdiocese. He attended St. Joseph School in the West End and St. Xavier. He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome in 1876. He served briefly as pastor of St. Patrick Church in Bellefontaine and was then appointed to teach at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. He later served as secretary to then-Bishop Elder until 1900, when he was himself appointed bishop of Columbus. After three years, he was appointed  coadjutor to the archbishop of Cincinnati and succeeded Archbishop Elder a year later.  He died Jan. 5, 1925 at his residence in Norwood.

Archbishop John T. McNicholas, O.P. (1877-1950)

The second Dominican priest to lead the archdiocese of Cincinnati, Archbishop John T. McNicholas was born Timothy McNicholas in Kiltimagh in Co. Mayo, Ireland in 1877. Educated in Philadelphia, he entered the Dominican order at St. Rose Priory in Springfield, Ky., and was ordained to the priesthood in Somerset, Ohio, in 1901. He was named assistant to the master general of the Dominicans in Rome in 1917. A year later, he became bishop of Duluth. In 1925, he was appointed to lead Cincinnati. He died April 22, 1950, at his residence in College Hill.

Archbishop Karl J. Alter  (1885-1977)

Archbishop Karl J. Alter, a native of Toledo, Ohio, was ordained to the priesthood for that diocese in 1910. He was appointed bishop of his native diocese in 1931, spending 19 years in that role until being named archbishop of Cincinnati in 1950. In this archdiocese he oversaw the restoration of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral and the completion of St. Gregory Seminary, as well as some 130 other major building projects. The archbishop was responsible for implementing the reforms of Vatican II in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Archbishop Alter retired in 1969 but maintained an active and visible role in the life of the archdiocese until his death in 1977.

Bishop George J. Rehring (1890-1976)

A Cincinnati native, Bishop George J. Rehring was born in Price Hill in 1890. He attended St. Lawrence School and St. Gregory’s and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Ordained to the priesthood in 1914, he served as prefect of the seminary. In his early years of priesthood he was assistant pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Reading, Nativity Church in Cincin­nati and was pastor of Guardian Angels Church in Cincinnati.

Following years as a professor of theology at the seminary and as rector, he was named auxiliary bishop of Cincinnati in 1937. Bishop Rehring served in that capacity for 13 years  — including a term as administrator of the archdiocese following the death of Archbishop McNicholas — until his appointment as Bishop of Toledo in 1950.

Bishop Rehring retired as Bishop of Toledo in 1967 and died in 1976.

Bishop Joseph H. Albers ( 1891-1965)

Bishop Joseph H. Albers was born in Cincinnati in 1891 and attended St. Joseph’s School in the West End and St. George’s School. Following studies at St. Gregory’s, Mount St. Mary’s and St. Francis seminaries, he  was ordained to the priesthood in 1916. He served as assistant pastor and administrator of Old St. Mary Church and as assistant pastor at St. Lawrence Church.

Following a stint as a military chaplain, Father Albers was named secretary to Archbishop Moeller, and later, chancellor of the archdiocese. In 1929 he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati, a position he held until his appointment as the first bishop of the new Diocese of Lansing, Mich.,  in 1937. He served in that capacity until his death in 1965.

Bishop Clarence G. Issenmann (1907-1982)

Bishop Clarence G. Issenmann, a native of Hamilton, was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 1932.  He spent two years as a writer for the Register system of Catholic newspapers, based in Denver. In 1938 he was named secretary to Archbishop McNicholas and associate editor of The Catholic Telegraph. Four years later he was appointed to teach at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and in 1945 became chancellor of the archdiocese. In 1947 he was named vicar general. He was ordained auxiliary bishop for  the archdiocese in 1954 and four years later became the sixth Bishop of Columbus. In 1964 Bishop Issenmann was named Coadjutor Bishop of Cleveland and in two years became head of that see. He retired as Bishop of Cleveland in 1974 due to poor health and died in 1982.

Archbishop Nicholas T. Elko (1909-1991)

Archbishop Nicholas T. Elko was born in 1909 in Donora, Pa. Following studies at Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Czechoslovakia and at Louvain University in Belgium, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Byzan­tine Diocese of Pittsburgh. In 1967 he was named prelate for the conferral of Eastern rite sacred orders in Rome, and in 1971 he was named the seventh Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati — the first Eastern-rite bishop to serve as an auxiliary bishop in a Roman rite diocese. He resigned as auxiliary bishop in April 1985 and died in May 1991.

Archbishop Paul F. Leibold (1914-1972)

Archbishop Paul F. Leibold was born in Dayton in 1914. A graduate of Chaminade High School and the University of Dayton, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1940. He served as assistant chancellor and chancellor for the archdiocese, as well as pastor of St. Louis Church in Cincinnati.

In 1958, he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati, a position he held for eight years until being named Bishop of Evansville. In 1969, this native son returned as Archbishop of Cincinnati. He died suddenly in 1972 at the age of 57.

Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy (1918-2005)

Born and raised in the Northside section of Cincinnati, Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy attended St. Boniface School and Roger Bacon High School before entering St. Gregory and Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1943 and was named personal secretary to Archbishop McNicholas a year later. He served in that capacity until the archbishop’s death in 1950, and continued as personal secretary to Archbishop Alter until 1965, when he was named an auxiliary bishop for Cincinnati. In 1969, Pope Paul VI established the Diocese of Phoenix in Arizona and appointed then-Bishop McCarthy to serve as its leader. Seven years later he was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Miami and in 1977 succeeded Archbishop Coleman Carroll.

He retired as archbishop of Miami in 1994. He died June 7, 2005.

Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin (1928-1996)

Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin was born in Columbia, S.C., on April 2, 1928, to Italian immigrant parents. Following studies at Mt. St. Mary Seminary in Maryland, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Charleston in 1952, and served that diocese as parish priest and chancellor. He served as Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta. he was the youngest archbishop in the United States upon his appointment to lead Cincinnati in 1972. During his decade as this archdiocese’s spiritual leader he served as NCCB president from 1974-77. In 1974, 1977, 1980 and 1983 he was appointed by his fellow bishops as one of four American delegates to the World Synod of Bishops in Rome. He was appointed Archbishop of Chicago in 1982 and elevated to the rank of cardinal the following year. Following a very public and courageous battle with cancer, Cardinal Bernardin died in 1996 in Chicago.

Bishop James Garland (1931-  )

A Wilmington, Ohio, native, Bishop James Garland attended Ohio State University prior to entering St. Gregory’s and Mt. St. Mary’s seminaries. The St. Columbkille parishioner was ordained to the priesthood in Cincinnati in 1959. Early assignments included St. Teresa parish in Springfield. He served as director of Dayton Catholic Charities and then archdiocesan director of Catholic Charities. He was a judge in the Marriage Tribunal, a teacher, and became vicar for community affairs in 1976, with duties as pastor of Our Lady of Grace parish in Price Hill. In 1984, he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati, vicar general and director of pastoral services. In 1992 he was named Bishop of Marquette, Mich. He retired in 2005.

Bishop Carl K. Moeddel (1937-2009)

Bishop Carl K. Moeddel was named auxiliary bishop of the Cincinnati Archdiocese in 1993. A native of Elmwood Place in Cincinnati, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1962 following studies at Mount St. Mary’s. He has served as assistant treasurer of the archdiocese, assistant pastor of St. Louis Church, assistant chancellor, and pastor of St. Louis, the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains and St. James Church in Wyoming. He retired from his role as auxiliary bishop in 2007. He died August 25, 2009.