John Shanley (bishop)

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Right Rev. John Shanley
Bishop of Fargo
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Fargo
In office December 27, 1889 – July 16, 1909
Predecessor none
Successor James O'Reilly
Ordination May 30, 1874
Consecration December 27, 1889
Personal details
Born (1852-01-04)January 4, 1852
Albion[disambiguation needed], New York
Died July 16, 1909(1909-07-16) (aged 57)
Fargo, North Dakota

John Shanley (January 4, 1852 – July 16, 1909) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Fargo, North Dakota, from 1889 until his death in 1909.


John Shanley was born in Albion[disambiguation needed], New York, the youngest son of John and Nancy (née McClean) Shanley.[1] At age 5 he and his family moved to Faribault, Minnesota, and soon afterward to St. Paul, where he received his early education, much of it from association with frontier priests who visited St. Paul during his service as a sanctuary boy at St. Paul Cathedral from 1858 to 1867.[2] He was a student of noticeable ability at St. John's College in Collegeville, where was trained in the classics and graduated in 1869.[1] Bishop Thomas Grace, O.P., then sent him to the College of Propaganda in Rome; Shanley made the journey with Rev. John Ireland (the future Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis).[2]

While in Rome, Shanley was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Costantino Patrizi Naro on May 30, 1874.[3] At age 22, he was below the age requirement for ordination but was granted a dispensation on account of his frail health.[1] Upon his return to Minnesota, he became an assistant pastor at St. Paul Cathedral under Rev. Ireland, whom Shanley succeeded as pastor in 1884.[2] He also served as secretary of the Archdiocese and editor of the weekly Northwestern Chronicle.[1]

On November 15, 1889, Shanley was appointed the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Jamestown, North Dakota, by Pope Leo XIII.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following December 27 from Archbishop Ireland, with Bishops Grace and Martin Marty, O.S.B., serving as co-consecrators.[3] He established St. John's Academy at Jamestown, under the charge of the Sisters of St. Joseph, in 1890; hosted the convention of Catholic Laymen in 1896; and completed the construction of a cathedral in 1899.[1] On April 6, 1897, the name of the diocese was changed to the Diocese of Fargo.[4] At the beginning of his tenure, there were 60 churches, 33 priests, 14 schools and one hospital in the diocese; by the time of his death, there 106 priests, 225 churches, six academies, 34 schools and four hospitals.[2]

Shanley took great interest in the development of the material interests of Fargo and the state, making large subscriptions to whatever contributed to the advancement of the state or of its people.[2] He went to Washington, D.C. in 1906 to protest against divorce and established Total Abstinence Societies in the diocese.[1] The Bishop later died in Fargo, aged 57.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Brennan, Mary. "Bishop John Shanley". Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Lounsberry, Clement Augusts. "Founding of the Catholic Church in North Dakota". Early History of North Dakota. 
  3. ^ a b c "Bishop John Shanley". 
  4. ^ "Diocese of Fargo". 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Fargo
Succeeded by
James O'Reilly