James Whelan (bishop)
|Right Rev. James Whelan, O.P.|
|Bishop of Nashville|
|Church||Roman Catholic Church|
|In office||February 21, 1860 – February 12, 1864|
|Predecessor||Richard Pius Miles, O.P.|
|Ordination||August 2, 1846|
|Consecration||May 8, 1859|
December 8, 1823|
|Died||February 18, 1878
Zanesville, Ohio, United States
|Previous post||Coadjutor Bishop of Nashville (1859–1860)|
Whelan was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, and moved with his parents to the United States at age 10 or 12, settling in New York. He joined the Dominican Order in 1839 at the novitiate in Springfield, Kentucky, and made his profession in 1842. After studying philosophy and theology at the Dominican convent at Somerset, Ohio, he was ordained a priest by Bishop John Baptist Purcell on August 2, 1846. He then worked as a missionary before serving as president of St. Joseph's College in Somerset from 1852 until 1854, when he became provincial superior of St. Joseph's Province (which included all the United States except the Pacific Coast).
On April 15, 1859, Whelan was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Nashville, Tennessee, and Titular Bishop of Marcopolis by Pope Pius IX. He received his episcopal consecration on the following May 8 from Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick, with Bishops John Baptiste Miège, S.J., and Henry Damian Juncker serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of St. Louis. He succeeded Richard Pius Miles, O.P., as Bishop of Nashville upon the latter's death on February 21, 1860. He enlarged the cathedral and established an academy, boarding school, and orphanage.
As a border state, Tennessee was the scene of some of the most severe battles during the Civil War (1861–1865). While passing through the lines after a visit with Bishop Martin John Spalding at Louisville, Whelan was accused of making remarks within Union lines which the Confederates thought had influenced the movements of the Union Army. These reproaches, combined with the sufferings, struggles, and sorrows of war, proved too much for Whelan, who resigned as Bishop on February 12, 1864; he was immediately named Titular Bishop of Diocletianopolis in Palaestina.
Whelan briefly retired to St. Joseph's Convent before taking up residence at St. Thomas Church in Zanesville. He devoted his time to theological, historical, and chemical studies, and published a defense of papal infallibility in 1871. He later died at age 54.
Richard Pius Miles, O.P.
|Bishop of Nashville