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Barber, Virgil Horace (09 May 1782–27 March 1847), clergyman and educator, was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, the son of Daniel Barber, an Episcopal minister, and Chloe Owen Chase. He studied for the ministry at Dartmouth College (1801–1803), while teaching at Cheshire Academy, where he had begun his formal education. In 1805 he was ordained a deacon of the Episcopal church in Waterbury, Connecticut; two years later, upon ordination to the priesthood, he became its pastor. That same year he married Jerusha Booth; they had four daughters and a son....

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Bouquillon, Thomas Joseph (16 May 1840–05 November 1902), Catholic priest and moral theologian, was born in Warnêton, Belgium. Little is known about Bouquillon’s parents other than their occupations as small landowners and farmers. Bouquillon received his early education in the small hamlet of Warnêton and in 1854 was sent to the episcopal college of St. Louis at Menin, Belgium, where until 1860 he learned languages and studied the liberal arts. Immediately thereafter he entered the petit séminaire of Roulers, Belgium, where he studied scholastic philosophy, and in 1862 he studied theology at the major seminary of Bruges, Belgium. In 1863 he matriculated at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he finished his theological studies, was ordained in 1865, and obtained a doctorate in moral theology in 1867....

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Corcoran, James Andrew (30 March 1820–16 July 1889), Catholic theologian and editor, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Jane O’Farrell and John Corcoran, Irish immigrants and grocers. John Corcoran immigrated to Charleston in 1817 and died there in 1819 at the age of thirty-five, five months before James was born. James’s mother Jane took over the family grocery business and raised his older brother John and him until she, too, died in 1832, leaving her two sons to the care of a hired maid. ...

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Fenton, Joseph Clifford (16 January 1906–07 July 1969), Catholic priest and theologian, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Michael Francis Fenton, a U.S. postal employee, and Elizabeth Clifford. Fenton grew up in an almost totally Catholic environment, going to Catholic primary and secondary schools in Springfield and obtaining a B.A. in philosophy in 1926 from the Jesuits’ Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. Immediately after graduating with honors, he enrolled in the Grand Seminary at the University of Montreal, where he obtained in 1930 a licentiate in theology and was that same year ordained to the priesthood for the archdiocese of Boston. Recognizing his talent as an intellectual, Cardinal ...

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Gmeiner, John (05 December 1847–11 November 1913), priest and author, was born in Baernau, Bavaria, the son of Sebastian Gmeiner and Caroline Fritsch. With his parents, he immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1849. In 1859 he enrolled at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee. Ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1870, he served as pastor of various German immigrant parishes in Milwaukee, Cassville, Platteville, Oshkosh, and Waukesha. He edited the ...

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Maas, Anthony John (23 August 1858–20 February 1927), Jesuit priest and teacher, was born in Bainkhausen, Westphalia, the son of John Maas and Elizabeth Peetz. After attending private schools in Hellefeld and Stockum, Maas fled Germany to avoid military conscription and to ensure a quick entrance into religious life. He arrived in the United States in April 1877 and immediately applied for admission to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). After an interview with Charles Charaux, superior of the Jesuits in New York and Canada, Maas was admitted to the novitiate at West Park, New York, on 9 April 1877....

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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 ...

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Thomas Joseph Shahan. Right, with Archbishop Henry Edward Manning. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105926).

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Shahan, Thomas Joseph (10 or 11 Sept. 1857–09 March 1932), Catholic clergyman, educator, and church historian, was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, the son of Maurice Peter Shahan and Mary Anne Carmody, Irish immigrants. He grew up in Millbury, Massachusetts, where his father owned a shoe store. After attending public schools there, he went in 1872 to the Sulpician Collège de Montréal (a minor seminary) for his classical and philosophical studies and there was introduced to neo-Thomism. In 1878 he became a seminarian at the North American College in Rome and a student of theology at the Urban College of the Propaganda Fide, where one of his professors was Francesco Satolli, a promoter of the Thomistic revival; he was also strongly influenced by the expert in Christian archaeology Giovanni Battista de Rossi. He was ordained priest on 3 June 1882 for the Diocese of Hartford (Connecticut) and was awarded the doctorate in theology....

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Shields, Thomas Edward (09 May 1862–05 February 1921), Catholic priest and educator, was born in Mendota, Minnesota, the son of John Shields, an immigrant Irish farmer, and Bridget Burke. The year that Thomas was born, a Minnesota Sioux uprising forced the Shields to take refuge at Fort Snelling. In his early youth, Thomas was known as an “omadhaun,” a Gaelic term for fool or simpleton, because he was thought to be uneducable. Through the efforts of a parish priest, however, he learned to love reading and study....

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Sorin, Edward Frederick (06 February 1814–31 October 1893), Roman Catholic priest and educator, was born in Ahuillé, France, the son of Julian Sorin de la Gaulterie, a gentleman farmer, and Marie Anne Louise Gresland de la Margalerie. In early childhood Sorin displayed a ready wit, firm decisiveness, and loyalty to his Breton family’s Catholic faith. These traits remained with him for life. After a year of college in Laval, he opted for the priesthood and studied for a time at a small seminary in Precigné. From there he moved to the diocesan seminary in Le Mans, finishing his theological curriculum and receiving ordination in 1838. Two years prior to that, ...

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Verhaegen, Peter Joseph (21 June 1800–21 July 1868), pioneer Catholic educator and church administrator, was born in Haacht, Belgium, the son of John Joseph Verhaegen, a royal notary, and Elizabeth Cloetens. Verhaegen enjoyed the traditional classical education common at the time, judging from the facts that he wrote fluent Latin and that he taught at a minor seminary at Mechlin, Belgium, before he was twenty-one. He left for the United States in 1821 as part of a group of young Belgians, all aspiring to be Catholic missionaries....

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Weigel, Gustave (15 January 1906–03 January 1964), Roman Catholic clergyman and theologian, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of August Weigel, a janitor and truck driver, and Leontine Kieffer. Upon graduating from Canisius High School in Buffalo in 1922, he entered the Society of Jesus and began his studies for the priesthood at St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York. From 1926 to 1929 he studied philosophy at Woodstock College, Maryland. Jesuit students for the priesthood usually taught for at least three years in a high school or college, but because Weigel planned to do graduate work, he spent only one year (1929–1930) at Loyola College in Baltimore. He then returned for theological studies at Woodstock, where he was ordained on 25 June 1933. After another year of study at Woodstock and a year of spiritual reflection (required of Jesuits), he then went to Rome, Italy, where he received his doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in 1937....

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Zahm, John Augustine (14 June 1851–10 November 1921), Catholic educator and author, was born in New Lexington, Ohio, the son of Jacob M. Zahm and Mary Ellen Braddock, farmers. After elementary classes in an Ohio log school and also at Saints Peter and Paul School in Huntington, Indiana, Zahm enrolled at the University of Notre Dame in 1867. He received his A.B. in philosophy in 1871 and in that year also entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Holy Cross at Notre Dame. Two years later he received a master’s degree, and in 1875 he was ordained for the priesthood at Notre Dame....