Michael Joseph Curley
|The Most Reverend
Michael Joseph Curley
|Archbishop of Baltimore-Washington|
|Installed||November 30, 1921|
|Term ended||May 16, 1947|
|Successor||Francis Patrick Keough (Baltimore)
Patrick O'Boyle (Washington)
|Other posts||Bishop of St. Augustine (1914-1921)|
|Ordination||March 19, 1904|
|Consecration||June 10, 1931|
October 12, 1879|
Athlone, County Westmeath, Ireland
|Died||May 16, 1947
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
|Denomination||Roman Catholic Church|
Michael Joseph Curley (October 12, 1879 – May 16, 1947) was an Irish-born clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. Originally a priest and bishop in the Diocese of St. Augustine, he served as the tenth Archbishop of Baltimore (1921–1947) as well as the first Archbishop of Washington (1939–1947).
Early life and education
One of eleven children, Michael Curley was born in Athlone, County Westmeath, to Michael and Maria (née Ward) Curley. He received his early education at a school in his native town conducted by the Marist Brothers. At the age of sixteen, he entered Mungret College in Limerick. He had a distinguished academic career at Mungret, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Royal University of Ireland in 1900. Although he originally dreamed of being a missionary in the Fiji Islands, a visit from Bishop John Moore to Mungret led Curley to volunteer for the Diocese of St. Augustine in the United States. His theological studies were made at the Urban College of the Propaganda in Rome, where he received his Licentiate of Sacred Theology in 1903.
On March 19, 1904, Curley was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Pietro Respighi in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. He arrived in Florida in the autumn of 1904, and was named pastor of St. Peter's Church in DeLand. His parish comprised 7,200 square miles (19,000 km2) and was one of the largest on the East Coast. In 1905, he became chancellor of the diocese and secretary to Bishop William John Kenny. He served in these capacities for ten months, at which time he returned to DeLand.
On April 3, 1914, Curley was appointed the fourth Bishop of St. Augustine by Pope Pius X. He received his episcopal consecration on the following June 30 from Bishop Benjamin Joseph Keiley, with Bishops Patrick James Donahue and Owen Corrigan serving as co-consecrators. At the age of thirty-four, Curley was the youngest member of the American hierarchy. He would spend eight months out of every year on journeys throughout the diocese, and by the end of his tenure, the Catholic population had grown from 39,000 to 41,000 and almost forty new churches were built.
During the 1910s, anti-Catholicism was on the rise in Florida. Curley attracted national attention by battling this prejudice in the state legislature, which made an unsuccessful attempt to pass a convent-inspection bill. However, the legislature did pass legislation that prohibited white women from teaching African American children. Curley refused to comply with this law, and three Sisters of St. Joseph were subsequently arrested. He led a campaign to have this law declared unconstitutional, which it eventually was. He also sought to educate Floridians about Catholicism and demonstrate the bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan.
During World War I, Curley was a strong supporter of the war effort. In 1917, he established the Diocesan Catholic War Council, a group that gave spiritual guidance to Florida's Catholic soldiers heading off to war. He spoke at Liberty Bond rallies, and at the end of the war celebrated the largest memorial Mass for fallen Allied soldiers at Battery Park in New York City.
On August 10, 1921, Curley was appointed the tenth Archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland, by Pope Benedict XV. His installation took place on the following November 30. His arrival in his new city was described as "one of the greatest welcomes ever tendered a new citizen of Baltimore." During his tenure in Baltimore, Curley distinguished himself as an advocate for education. He established sixty-six schools in eighteen years, placing the importance of constructing schools over churches. In 1926, he declared, "I defy any system of grammar school education in the United States to prove itself superior to the system that is being maintained in the Archdiocese of Baltimore." He also established diocesan offices for Catholic Charities (1923) and for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith (1925).
Outspoken on political and social affairs, Curley was a strong opponent of the foreign policy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, anticlerical governments of Mexico and Spain, American film industry, and establishment of Newman Centres at secular universities (which he felt undermined Catholic schools). In 1936, he called upon his fellow Catholic bishops to conduct a study of the influences of communism in the United States. He once engaged in a public feud with The Baltimore Sun when one of its reporters compared Adolf Hitler to Ignatius of Loyola. Although his predecessor, the legendary James Gibbons, was a cardinal, Curley never received the same distinction.
On July 22, 1939, Pope Pius XII separated the city of Washington, D.C. from the Archdiocese of Baltimore to form the new Archdiocese of Washington. While retaining his position as Archbishop of Baltimore, Curley was named the first Archbishop of Washington, and governed the two archdioceses as a single unit.
His later years were burdened with progressive blindness and failing health. He died from a stroke at age 66, and was buried in the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore. After his death, separate archbishops were appointed for Baltimore (Francis Patrick Keough) and Washington (Patrick O'Boyle).
- "About Athlone: Famous People". Athlone.ie.
- "Most Rev. Michael Joseph Curley". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.
- O'Donnell, John Hugh (1922). The Catholic Hierarchy of the United States, 1790-1922. Washington, D.C.
- "Archbishop Michael Joseph Curley". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
- "Bishop Michael Joseph Curley (1913-1921)". Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine.
- "Archbishop Curley Given Big Ovation". The Washington Post. November 1, 1921.
- "About Us: The Archdiocese of Washington". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.
|Catholic Church titles|
William John Kenny
|Bishop of St. Augustine
3 April 1914 – 10 August 1921
Patrick Joseph Barry
|Archbishop of Baltimore
10 August 1921 – 16 May 1947
Francis Patrick Keough
|New title||Archbishop of Washington
22 July 1939 – 16 May 1947