Posts Tagged ‘St. Ignatius Loyola’

On Ignatius’ feast day, thanks to an early New York Jesuit

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Today, July 31, is the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. This is an appropriate day to write about the contributions of one of his sons, whose name is known by so few, but to whom the Catholics of New York owe so much: Father Anthony Kohlmann, S.J., the first vicar general of the Diocese of New York.

In 1808, Pope Pius VII created four new dioceses in the United States. One of them was New York. The pope named a Dominican friar, Father Luke Concannon, as the first bishop. The new bishop made plans to sail here from Naples, but Napoleon got in his way by placing an embargo on American ships. Realizing that he wasn’t going to get to his new diocese anytime soon, Bishop Concannon wrote to the pope and asked for a vicar general to be appointed in the meantime. The pope named a German Jesuit, Anthony Kohlmann, to the position while the bishop tried unsuccessfully to set sail. Bishop Concannon died in Naples in 1810 and Father Kohlmann went on serving as vicar general until 1814.

At the time of Kohlmann’s arrival, there was just one church for New York’s 14,000 Catholics, St. Peter’s. The pastor there was ill and shorthanded; the Catholics were, shall we say, a tad lukewarm in their practice of the faith. The energetic Jesuit soon could report that Mass was being celebrated in three languages, religious education classes were thriving, and the Catholics were outgrowing St. Peter’s.  It was a time for a second church and what a church it would be: the first St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  It was built on the site of a cemetery, well north of the northern border of New York City, Canal Street. Many Catholics complained that the site was too far out of town, but Kohlmann apparently understand that the city was growing and had only one way to go: north. This was a lesson a future ordinary of New York, Archbishop John Hughes would learn, too.

So we owe what is now properly called the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral to a Jesuit. But we owe him more. Good Jesuit that he was, Father Kohlmann and his companions established a college near the first cathedral. However, the need for additional space led to the purchase of a site four miles north of New York, near Columbia University’s Elgin Gardens. The Jesuit college moved up and into a mansion that already stood there. However, the Maryland Province of the Jesuits ordered this college to be closed so that the Jesuits could concentrate on another college they ran, the one in Georgetown. And what happened to the property? It became of the site of the current St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

Today, as we honor the founder of the Jesuits, we New Yorkers should give thanks especially for Father Anthony Kohlmann, who built the church of New York in mortar and practice.

Thanks to Thomas Young, author of a marvelous history of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New World Rising (Something More Publications 2006), for the story of Anthony Kohlman, S.J.

A 30-Day Ignatian Retreat at your fingertips

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Our good friend, Father Jim Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and My Life with the Saints, has just posted on his America blog, “In All Things,” a chance to experience a 30-day online retreat, based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. It is sponsored by the Jesuit Refugee Service USA.

This is a wonderful opportunity to discover or re-discover Ignatian Spirituality at a time that’s best for you.

Something Wonderful from America Magazine’s “In All Things”

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Our friend, Father Jim Martin, SJ, associate editor at America, the Jesuit newsmagazine, always has something fascinating on his blog, “In All Things.” This time, however he has really outdone himself with a video from his brother Jesuit, Father Mike Rogers.

Check out this beautiful tour of the rooms in Rome in which St. Ignatius Loyola actually lived and died. And get out your handkerchiefs. Father Jim is right. The video, with musical background from the soundtracks of The Mission and Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, will leave in you in tears. It may also leave you with a burning desire to know more about this extraordinary saint, the founder of the Society of Jesus.