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Drumgoole, John Christopher (15 August 1816–28 March 1888), founder of Catholic orphanages in New York City, was born in Granard, County Longford, Ireland, the son of John Drumgoole and Bridget (maiden name unknown). His father died when John was six years old, and his mother emigrated to the United States in 1823. John joined her in New York the following year....

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Egan, John Joseph (09 October 1916–19 May 2001), activist priest, was born in New York City, the second of four children of Irish immigrants John Egan, a bus driver, and Nellie “Helen” Curry, a dressmaker. The family moved to Chicago when Egan was six. Starting at the age of ten, Egan delivered newspapers, rising at 4:00 ...

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Edward J. Flanagan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103880).

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Flanagan, Edward Joseph (13 July 1886–15 May 1948), Roman Catholic priest and founder of Boys Town, was born in Leaberg, County Roscommon, Ireland, the son of John Flanagan, a farm manager, and Honora Larkin. His first formal education was at Summer Hill College, a boarding school in Sligo, Ireland. Flanagan was inspired as a teenager by his older brother Patrick, who had graduated from a Dublin seminary and been ordained a priest. He planned to attend the same Dublin seminary but instead ventured to the United States in 1904 at the age of eighteen. Prompting his decision to immigrate was his sister Nellie, who had returned to visit him in Ireland after spending several years in America. She enthralled him with stories of life there and convinced him of the many advantages America held for his vocational training....

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Groppi, James Edward (16 November 1930–04 November 1985), Catholic priest and civil rights activist, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Giocondo Groppi, a grocer, and Giorgina (maiden name unknown). James Groppi was the eleventh of twelve children. His father was a first-generation Italian immigrant who spoke broken English, a fact that Groppi said earned him “humorous contempt.” This early introduction to prejudice had a lasting influence on Groppi, particularly since his father insisted that the Groppi children refrain from retaliating in kind when they were subject to ethnic slurs. A second influence on his attitudes about prejudice came indirectly from the church; the Irish Catholic parish the Groppis were expected to attend was less than friendly to Italian parishioners, many of whom responded by having their children baptised in a parish church in Milwaukee’s Italian third ward....

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Hillenbrand, Reynold Henry (19 July 1905–22 May 1979), priest and social activist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of George Hillenbrand, a dentist, and Eleanor Schmitt. Reared in a comfortable, middle-class setting near Chicago’s Lincoln Park, Hillenbrand attended St. Michael’s Church, run by the German Redemptorists. He was educated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Brothers of Mary. In 1920 he followed his elder brother, Frederick Hillenbrand, to Chicago’s Quigley Preparatory Seminary, where he developed a lifelong love for English literature and served as the editor of the seminary newspaper. In 1924 he continued his studies for the priesthood at the newly built St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Area (now Mundelein), Illinois. He completed his studies for ordination with the Jesuits, who directed the academic program at the seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood on 29 September 1929 and completed a doctorate at St. Mary of the Lake, writing a dissertation on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Upon completion of his doctoral work in 1931, his superior, Cardinal ...

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Kerby, William Joseph (20 February 1870–27 July 1936), Catholic priest and promoter of professional social work, was born in Lawler, Iowa, the son of Irish immigrants Daniel P. Kerby, a prosperous banker, and Ellen Rockford. One of ten children, he attended St. Joseph’s (now Loras) College in Dubuque. After graduating in 1889, he entered St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Dubuque on 21 December 1892. He then continued the study of theology at the recently opened Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where the relatively liberal Belgian professor ...

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LaFarge, John (13 February 1880–24 November 1963), clergyman, journalist, and civil rights advocate, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the youngest child of John La Farge, a painter and art critic, and Margaret Mason Perry, a granddaughter of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Growing up in this distinguished Catholic family, LaFarge was exposed to such famous people as ...

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Ligutti, Luigi (21 March 1895–28 December 1983), Roman Catholic priest, rural life advocate, and ecumenist, was born in Romans near Udine, Italy, the son of Spiridione L. Ligutti and Teresa Ciriani, farmers. He attended primary school in his native village and high school and one year of college in the Petit Seminary in Cividale and Udine. After immigrating to the United States in 1912, he attended St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, receiving his A.B. in June 1914. In 1917 he completed theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland, receiving an S.T.B. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Diocese of Des Moines on 23 September 1917. After his ordination, he attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he majored in Latin and Greek and graduated in June 1918 with an M.A. Later he took postgraduate classes at Columbia University and the University of Chicago....

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McGlynn, Edward (27 September 1837–07 January 1900), Roman Catholic priest and social reformer, was born in New York City, the son of Peter McGlynn, a building contractor, and Sarah (maiden name unknown). His parents, Irish immigrants with a passionate commitment to Gaelic language and traditions, raised their family on the Lower East Side of New York City. Their friendship with Bishop ...

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Ryan, John Augustine (25 May 1869–16 September 1945), Roman Catholic priest, theologian, and reformer, was born in Vermillion, Minnesota, the son of William Ryan and Maria Elizabeth Luby, farmers. His theological, moral, and social roots were planted in a rich soil of Irish Catholic devotionalism and American prairie populism. During his youth, the call for political and economic change on the part of reformers like Patrick Ford of the ...