Carroll Thomas Dozier

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Carroll Thomas Dozier (August 18, 1911—December 7, 1985) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the first Bishop of Memphis (1971-1982).


One of five children, Carroll Dozier was born in Richmond, Virginia, to Curtis Merry and Rosa Ann (née Conaty) Dozier.[1] After graduating from Benedictine High School in Richmond in 1928, he attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, from where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1932.[1] He then furthered his studies in Rome at the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University, there earning a Bachelor of Sacred Theology.[2] He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on March 19, 1937.[3]

Following his return to Virginia in 1937, Dozier served as a curate at St. Vincent's Church in Newport News until 1941, when he was transferred to St. Joseph's Church in Petersburg.[1] He was diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith (1945-1954) and afterwards pastor of Christ the King Church in Norfolk (1954-1971).[1] He was named a Papal Chamberlain in 1954 and a Domestic Prelate in 1961.[2]

On November 12, 1970, Dozier was appointed the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee, by Pope Paul VI.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on January 6, 1971 from Cardinal John Joseph Wright, with Archbishops Luigi Raimondi and Thomas Joseph McDonough serving as co-consecrators.[3] During his tenure, Dozier implemented the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, including insisting on liturgical changes and giving more important roles to the laity in diocesan affairs.[2] He also established the Diocesan Housing Corporation, Catholic Charities, Ministry to the Sick, and a weekly newspaper called Common Sense.[2] A self-described "progressive,"[2] Dozier was an early opponent of the Vietnam War and offered support to draft dodgers.[4] He also called for busing to achieve desegregation in public schools, opposed capital punishment, and supported ecumenism and women's rights.[4] [2] In 1970 he celebrated two Masses of Reconciliation at Memphis and Jackson for lapsed Catholics; he gave general absolution to those in attendance, to the dismay of Pope Paul VI and Cardinal James Knox.[4]

After eleven years as bishop, Dozier resigned due to poor health on July 27, 1982.[3] He later died after suffering a stroke at age 74.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Zurhellen, Joan (2006-01-12). "First bishop of diocese remembered". Roman Catholic Diocese of Memphis. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Bishop Carroll Thomas Dozier". 
  4. ^ a b c d "Bishop Carroll T. Dozier, 74; Ex-Head of Memphis Diocese". The New York Times. 1985-12-08. 

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Memphis
Succeeded by
James Stafford