Joseph H. Albers

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Most Reverend

Joseph H. Albers, D.D.
Diocese Roman Catholic Diocese of Lansing, Michigan
Successor Alexander M. Zaleski
Other posts Auxiliary bishop Cincinnati, Ohio
Orders
Ordination June 16, 1916
Consecration August 4, 1937
Rank Bishop of Lansing;
Titular Bishop of Lunda
Personal details
Born (1891-03-18)March 18, 1891
Cincinnati, Ohio
Died December 1, 1965(1965-12-01) (aged 74)
Lansing, Michigan
Buried St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery in Lansing, Michigan
Nationality  American
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Alma mater Appollonaire University

Joseph H. Albers D.D.[1] (March 18, 1891 – December 1, 1965) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1929 at the age of 38, he was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati, making him one of the youngest Roman Catholic bishops in the country.[2] He continued in this role until he was assigned to establish the new Diocese of Lansing, Michigan in 1937, and was its first bishop (1937–1964).[3][4][5][6]

Biography[edit]

Example of Citation Star on World War I Victory Medal

He was ordained a priest in 1916. Father Albers' first appointment was in Cincinnati, Ohio as an assistant pastor at Old St. Mary's Church, School and Rectory.[7]

In World War I, Father Albers was commissioned as an armed forces chaplain on June 1, 1918. He served in the infantry while overseas, and saw duty in several battles including the Argonne Forest, Chateau Thierry and St. Mihiel. Chaplain Albers was wounded three times and gassed. He was decorated and received the Silver Star (presumably the Citation Star which was its predecessor) for bravery and valor. He was discharged from military service in 1919.[2]

He was assigned to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, filling various roles, and in 1925 was made Chancellor of the Archdiocese. In 1926 he became a Monsignor. Then he studied canon law at Appollonaire University in Rome for two years, becoming a Doctor of Canon Law. Upon return to the United States, Monsignor Albers resumed his post as Chancellor of the Archdiocese.

Father Albers was appointed Titular Bishop of Lunda and ordained 27 December 1929. In 1937 he became the first bishop of Lansing, and was consecrated on August 4, 1937.[3]

In January 1938, the rectory of St. Mary Cathedral had a serious fire. Bishop Albers, still suffering from lungs weakened from being gassed in World War I, collapsed and local firemen rescued him.[2]

In August 1954—his 25th anniversary of consecration as a bishop—he was appointed as Assistant at the Pontifical Throne.[8]

During his tenure as Lansing's bishop, from 1940 to 1962 Bishop Albers maintained Meadowvue in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, as his diocesal residential seat. The location was owned by the diocese at the time. Meadowvue was also the former residence of Irving Jacob Reuter and Janet Reuter. Meadowvue has since (1991) was declared a Michigan State Historical Object (Registered Site L1824, erected 1992 at 677 S. Michigan Road, Eaton Rapids, Michigan.)[9][10]

Albers' episcopacy was characterized by a building boom. During his reign, the diocese built 38 parishes, 42 elementary schools and two high schools. This earned Bishop Albers the appellation, “The builder.”[2] In addition, on August 1, 1954, the diocesal newsletter Catholic Weekly, Lansing began publication. Bishop Albers was instrumental in the startup.[11]

On October 11, 1962, Albers was present at the opening session of the Second Vatican Council. Also present were two men destined to wear this mitre, the second and fourth bishops of Lansing, respectively: Alexander M. Zaleski, in his capacity as a vicar general of the archdiocese of Detroit; and Carl Frederick Mengeling, serving as a page.[2]

Bishop Albers enjoyed a special devotion to St. Joseph; one of the new parishes consecrated during his episcopate was named for his patron saint.[12]

Legacy[edit]

Joseph Albers was a bishop for 35.9 years, and a priest for 49.5 years.[3]

On October 7, 1964, suffering from declining health, Bishop Albers retired from his Lansing episcopal duties. He was succeeded by the Most Reverend Bishop Alexander M. Zaleski, who as noted above had been the vicar general of the Detroit archdiocese.[2][13] Bishop Albers died just over a year later, on December 1, 1965.[13]

His remains are interred at St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery in Lansing, Michigan.[14][15][16] Some of his correspondence is at the University of Notre Dame archives.[17]

The Knights of Columbus has a chapter named for him, the Bishop Joseph H. Albers Council 4090, P.O. Box 22, Davison, MI 48323, (810) 653-4090.[18] The Joseph H. Albers Trust Fund has been established to help seminarians pay their expenses.[19]

St. Joseph's Catholic Church was established in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1941. In order to pay for the church, part of the grounds was subdivided and sold. It is named "“Bishop Albers Subdivision."[20]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
None
Bishop of Lansing
1937—1965
Succeeded by
Alexander M. Zaleski
Preceded by
Martin Meulenberg, S.M.M.
Titular Bishop of Lunda
1929—1937
Succeeded by
George John Rehring