John Jeremiah Lawler

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Most Rev. John J. Lawler
Bishop of Rapid City
The coat of arms of Bishop Lawler as Bishop of Lead
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Rapid City (formerly Lead)
In office Jan. 29, 1916 – Mar. 11, 1948
Predecessor Joseph Francis Busch
Successor William Tibertus McCarty, C.SS.R.
Ordination December 19, 1885
Personal details
Born August 4, 1862
Rochester, Minnesota
Died March 11, 1948(1948-03-11) (aged 85)
Rapid City, South Dakota

John Jeremiah Lawler (August 4, 1862—March 11, 1948) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Rapid City from 1916 until his death in 1948.


Lawler was born in Rochester, Minnesota, and attended St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[1] He continued his studies in Belgium, studying philosophy at the College of St. Nicholas in Flanders and theology at the University of Louvain.[2] He was ordained to the priesthood at Louvain on December 19, 1885.[3]

Following his return to Minnesota, Lawler served as professor of Scripture at the College of St. Thomas and later pastor of St. Luke's Church in St. Paul.[2] He also served as rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul.[1] As rector, he was instrumental in the erection of the cathedral at a cost of $5 million.[2]

On February 8, 1910, Lawler was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and titular bishop of Hermopolis Maior by Pope Pius X.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following May 19 from Archbishop John Ireland, with Bishops James McGolrick and James Trobec serving as co-consecrators.[3] As an auxiliary bishop, he assisted Archbishop Ireland for six years.

Lawler was appointed the third Bishop of Lead, South Dakota, by Pope Benedict XV on January 29, 1916.[3] On August 1, 1930, the episcopal see of the diocese was changed from Lead to Rapid City, and the name of the diocese was changed accordingly.[4] In 1947, Lawler, who had been in failing health, received Bishop William Tibertus McCarty as his coadjutor bishop.[2]

Lawler died following a stroke at age 85.[2] At the time of his death, he was the oldest Catholic bishop in the United States and, after Bishop Alexander Joseph McGavick, was the second most senior in years of service.[2]


  1. ^ a b O'Donnell, John Hugh (1922). The Catholic Hierarchy of the United States, 1790-1922. Washington, D.C. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "BISHOP J.J. LAWLER OF RAPID CITY, S.D.; Head of Diocese Transferred There in 1930 Dies at 85—Ex-Auxiliary in St. Paul". The New York Times. 1948-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Bishop John Jeremiah Lawler". 
  4. ^ "Diocese of Rapid City".