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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > B > James Roosevelt Bayley

James Roosevelt Bayley

First Bishop of Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.; eighth Archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland; b. at Rye, New York, 23 August, 1814; d. at Newark, 3 October, 1877. His Dutch and English non-Catholic ancestors were locally notable. His father was the son of Dr. Richard Bayley, professor of anatomy in Columbia College, New York, and inaugurated the New York quarantine system. Mother Seton, foundress of the Sisters of Charity in the United States was his aunt. He was named after his maternal grandfather, James Roosevelt, a merchant of large fortune, who made him his heir, but altered the will when Bayley became a Catholic priest, under the mistaken idea that priests could not possess property. A large part of the money went to build the Roosevelt Hospital in New York. Bayley's early schools days were spent at Amherst College, where he once thought of going to sea and obtained a commission of midshipman in the navy. He abandoned the plan, however, and continuing his studies, entered Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, to prepare for the Episcopalian ministry. He graduated here in 1835 and after receiving orders was appointed rector of St. Peter's church, Harlem, New York. He resigned this charge in 1841 and went to Rome, where on 28 April, 1842, he was baptized and received into the Catholic church in the room of St. Ignatius by Father Esmond, S.J. He then entered the seminary of St. Sulpice at Paris for his theological studies. Returning to New York, he was ordained priest by Bishop Hughes, 2 March, 1844, and made a professor and the vice-president of the seminary at Fordham. He was acting president there in 1846 and was next given charge of the parish at the Quarantine Station on Staten Island, so long the residence of his grandfather, Dr. Bayley. Bishop Hughes then appointed him his private secretary, an office he held for several years and in which his administrative ability was specially manifested. He devoted some of his leisure to the collection and preservation of local historical data, much of which would otherwise have been lost. Part of this material he published in a small volume "A Brief Sketch of the Early History of the Catholic Church on the Island of New York" (New York, 1853; 2nd ed., 1870).

When the Diocese of Newark was established he was named its first bishop and consecrated 30 October, 1853, in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, by Archbishop Bedini, the Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil, who wan then en route to Rome. The Bishops of Brooklyn and Burlington were consecrated at the same time, the first occurrence of such an elaborate ceremony in the United States. Bishop Bayley's work of organizing the new diocese was not easy. He had more than 40,000 Catholics mainly of Irish and German extraction, with only twenty-five priests to minister to them. There was not a single diocesan institution, no funds, and poverty on all sides. He therefore applied for help to the Association of the Propagation of the Faith of Lyons, France, and to the Leopoldine Association of Vienna and from both received material assistance. In a letter he wrote 10 April, 1865, reviewing the condition of the diocese after his first ten years there he says: "I find that while the Catholic population has increased a third, the churches and priests have doubled in number. In 1854 there was no religious community. Now we have a monastery of Benedictines, another of Passionists, a mother-house of Sisters of Charity, conducting seventeen different establishments; two convents of Benedictine nuns, two others of German Sisters of Notre Dame and two others of the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis. In 1854 there was no institution of learning; today we have a flourishing college and a diocesan seminary, an academy for young ladies, a boarding school for boys, and parish schools attached to almost all the parishes." In addition to these he introduced the Jesuits and the Sisters of St. Joseph and of St. Dominic into the diocese, and was one of the strongest upholders of the temperance movement of the seventies. He made several journeys to Rome and the Holy Land, attending the canonization of the Japanese martyrs at Rome in 1862; the centenary of the Apostles in 1867; and the Oecumenical Council in 1869.

At the death of Archbishop Spalding of Baltimore he was promoted, on 30 July, 1872, to succeed that prelate. He left Newark with much reluctance. In 1875 as Apostolic Delegate he imposed the cardinal's biretta on Archbishop McCloskey of New York. In May, 1876, he consecrated the Baltimore cathedral, having freed it from debt. Convening the Eighth Provincial Synod of the clergy, August, 1875, he enacted many salutary regulations, particularly with regard to clerical dress, mixed marriages, and church music. Illness obliged him to ask for a coadjutor and Bishop Gibbons of Richmond was appointed to that position 29 May, 1877. The archbishop then went abroad to seek for relief, but in vain. He returned to his former home in Newark in August, 1877, and after lingering for two months, died in his old room, where he had laboured for so long. At his own request he was buried beside his aunt, Mother Seton, at the convent at Emmitsburg, Maryland. He was a noble model of a Christian bishop. He seemed animated with the spirit of St. Francis de Sales, full of zeal in the episcopal office and of kindness and charity to all mankind. In conversation he once told Bishop Corrigan that before his conversion he thought of becoming a Jesuit, and before his consecration a Redemptorist, but from both intentions his director dissuaded him. In addition to the volume on the Church on New York he wrote the "Memoirs of Simon Gabriel Brute, First Bishop of Vincennes" (New York, 1855).

Sources

Flynn, The Catholic Church in New Jersey (Morristown, 1904); Shea, History of the Cath. Ch. In the U.S. (New York, 1889-92); Cathedral Records (Baltimore, 1906); Reuss, Biog. Cycl. Of the Cath. Hierarchy of the U.S. (Milwaukee, 1898).

About this page

APA citation. Meehan, T. (1907). James Roosevelt Bayley. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02359a.htm

MLA citation. Meehan, Thomas. "James Roosevelt Bayley." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02359a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Susan Birkenseer.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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