Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's a Great Day in the History of American Catholicism

That's because on this day in 1793, the first priest - Fr. Stephen Theodore Badin - was ordained in the United States. Here's some info from Catholic Encyclopedia:

[Father Badin] was the first Catholic priest ordained within the limits of the original thirteen States of the Union, pioneer missionary of Kentucky, b. at Orléans, France, 17 July, 1768; d. at Cincinnati, Ohio, 21 April, 1853. Educated at Montaigu College, Paris, he entered the Sulpician Seminary of his native city in 1789. He was subdeacon when the seminary was closed by the revolutionary government, in 1791, and sailed from Bordeaux for the American mission in November of the same year, with the Revs. B.J. Flaget and J.B. David, both destined in God's providence to wear the mitre in Kentucky. They arrived in Philadelphia on the 26th of March, 1792, and were welcomed at Baltimore by Bishop Carroll on the 28th. Stephen T. Badin pursued his theological studies with the Sulpicians and was ordained a priest by Bishop Carroll, 25 May, 1793. His was the first ordination in the United States. After a few months spent at Georgetown to perfect himself in English, Father Badin was appointed to the Mission of Kentucky.

Here's some info from The History Channel:
In Baltimore, Maryland, Father Stephen Theodore Badin becomes the first Catholic priest to be ordained in the United States. Badin was ordained by Bishop John Carroll, an early advocate of American Catholicism, and appointed to the Catholic mission in Kentucky.

In colonial America, there were few English-speaking Catholics outside of Maryland, which was established in 1634 as a haven for Roman Catholics persecuted in England. In 1735, some 100 years after the establishment of Maryland, John Carroll was born in Baltimore into a prominent Catholic family. As secondary Catholic education was forbidden by the British colonial
authorities, Carroll traveled to Europe, where he was ordained in 1769. Returning to America, he was sympathetic to the Patriot cause during the Revolutionary War and in 1790 was chosen by the Vatican to become the first bishop of the American Catholic Church.

Carroll supported the separation between church and state, and advocated an autonomous American clergy that would elect its own bishops and carry out its own training. In his early years as bishop, he endorsed the use of English in the liturgy, and on May 25, 1793, presided over the first ordination of a Catholic priest on U.S. soil. Although the American Catholic Church grew substantially under Carroll's leadership, it was the mass emigration of Catholics from Ireland, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the Balkans during the 19th and 20th centuries that made Catholicism a major force in U.S. religious life.