Joseph Clement Willging

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Joseph Clement Willging (September 6, 1884 – March 3, 1959) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the first Bishop of Pueblo (1942–1959).


Joseph Willging was born in Dubuque, Iowa, to Henry and Elizabeth (née Hanover) Willging.[1] After attending St. Mary's School (1891–1898) and Columbia College (1898–1905) in Dubuque, he studied at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland, earning a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree in 1908.[1] He was ordained to the priesthood on June 20, 1908.[2]

He then studied at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. for a year before becoming principal of St. Aloysius Institute in Helena, Montana, in 1909.[1] He was a professor at Carroll College from 1910 to 1914, and briefly returned to Catholic University (1912–1913).[1] He then served as chancellor of the Diocese of Helena until 1927, when he became pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Butte.[1] He was named a Papal Chamberlain (1921), and a Domestic Prelate and the vicar general of Helena in 1939.[1]

On December 6, 1941, Willging was appointed the first Bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado, by Pope Pius XII.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on February 24, 1942 from Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, with Archbishop Henry Rohlman and Bishop Joseph Michael Gilmore serving as co-consecrators.[2] During his 17-year-long tenure, he increased the number of parishes from 39 to 60, and the number of priests from 84 to 151.[3] He also encouraged the establishment of parochial schools and Catholic hospitals.[3]

Willging died from a heart attack, at age 74.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig. 
  2. ^ a b c "Bishop Joseph Clement Willging". 
  3. ^ a b "Our Mission". Roman Catholic Diocese of Pueblo. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Pueblo
Succeeded by
Charles Albert Buswell