John England

[John England] First Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina, born Cork, Ireland, 1786; died Charleston, South Carolina 1842. Educated in the schools of Cork, he studied law for two years, entered Carlow College, 1803, and was ordained, 1808, having begun earlier to give religious instruction and to organize charitable enterprises, among them a reformatory for women, and schools for poor children. In 1812 he was made president of the Diocesan College of Saint Mary, where he taught theology. He was as ardent as Daniel O'Connell in the cause of Catholic Emancipation, founding "The Chronicle" with that end in view. Having expressed a desire for missionary life in America, he was named Bishop of Charleston and consecrated in Cork, 21 September 1820. He refused to take the oath of allegiance customary in Ireland, declaring his intention of becoming a citizen of the United States. His diocese, which included North and South Carolina, and Georgia, contained but three churches. By indomitable energy and constant visitations to all its settlements he had rallied Catholics to the number of 12,000 by 1812. A pioneer in intellectual activities as well as in religion, he organized in 1823 a Book Society, designed to have branches in each congregation, founded the same year the "United States Catholic Miscellany," the first Catholic newspaper in the United States, and established a seminary and College called "The Philosophical and Classical Seminary of Charleston," of which he was president and chief teacher. His eloquence made him a popular lecturer in the great cities of the country and in 1826 he was invited to address Congress. He was the chief factor in bringing about the first Provincial Council of Baltimore, 1829. The churches in his diocese had increased to 17 at the time of his death. A new edition of his collected writings, in five volumes, was published in Cleveland, in 1908.

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