Bernard John McQuaid

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Bernard John McQuaid
Bishop Bernard John McQuaid.jpg
Born(1823-12-15)December 15, 1823
DiedJanuary 18, 1909(1909-01-18) (aged 85)

Bernard John McQuaid (15 December 1823, in New York City – 18 January 1909, in Rochester, New York) was an American Catholic priest, the first Bishop of Rochester, U.S.A. and the first president of Seton Hall University. McQuaid Jesuit High School is named in his honor.

Early life[edit]

His father, Bernard McQuaid, from Tyrone, Ireland, settled in Powel's Hook (now Jersey City), New Jersey. It was in the McQuaid home that Mass was first said in Powel's Hook, by Father John Conron, on the first Sunday in Advent, November, 1829. He mother died when he was young, and his father in a bar fight. McQuaid spent some time at the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum staffed by the Sisters of Charity.[1]

After his college course at Chambly, Quebec, young McQuaid entered St. John's Seminary, Fordham, and was ordained in old St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York on 16 January 1848 by Bishop John Hughes.[1] Most of the State of New Jersey was at that time included in the Diocese of New York, so Father McQuaid was sent as assistant to the pastor at Madison, New Jersey.

When the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark was created in 1853, Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley made Father McQuaid rector of the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Newark. When the American Civil War broke out he was the first clergyman at Newark to espouse publicly the cause of the Union; he also volunteered as a chaplain and accompanied the New Jersey Brigade to the seat of war, during which service he was captured by the Confederates.[1]

In 1866, Bishop Bayley named McQuaid his vicar-general. That year attended the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore. With the bishop he founded Seton Hall College, and, without giving up his parochial charge or his diocesan office, was its president for ten years. He also helped to establish the congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth.[2]


On the creation of the Diocese of Rochester in 1868, Father McQuaid was appointed its first bishop and was consecrated in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, by Archbishop John McCloskey, assisted by Bishop Bayley, on 12 July 1868. He was installed in Rochester, on July 16.[3]

He attended the First Vatican Council in 1869/70, where he complained of rainy weather, inadequate heating facilities and boredom;[4] and was present at the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884.[5]

Less well known is McQuaid's pioneering work as one of the Finger Lakes first commercial wineries, O-Neh-Da Vineyard. Named to honor the culture of the Native people, McQuaid called the Vineyard "O-Neh-Da" which means "Lake of Hemlocks" in the Seneca language. O-Neh-Da Vineyard continues McQuaid's mission to this day, making 100% pure grape wine for Eucharistic Celebration in the Finger Lakes of New York State.

McQuaid was especially devoted to the cause of Catholic education. In Rochester within ten years he organized a parochial school system, taught by nuns, and affiliated it with the State university. Two years after he took charge of the diocese he opened St. Andrew's Preparatory Seminary,[2] the promising students of which he sent to European seminaries to complete their education in order to become professors at Saint Bernard's Seminary which opened in 1893. Meantime he was constantly extending the parishes throughout the diocese; founding new works of charity, or strengthening those already established; securing freedom of worship and their constitutional rights for the inmates of the state institutions, of which there are four in the diocese.

In 1905 he asked for a coadjutor, and Bishop Thomas Francis Hickey was consecrated, 24 May 1905.


  1. ^ a b c Marlin, George J. and Miner, Brad. Sons of Saint Patrick: A History of the Archbishops of New York, Ignatius Press, 2017, p. 119ISBN 9781621641131
  2. ^ a b Rochester and Monroe County, New York: Pictorial and Biographical, Pioneer Publishing Company, 1908, p. 27
  3. ^ "On This Day in Rochester History: Bernard John McQuaid is born", Democrat & Chronicle, December 15, 2013
  4. ^ "The First Vatican Council". America. 8 September 1962. Archived from the original on 15 September 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2018 – via Conciliaria.
  5. ^ The Biographical Record of the City of Rochester and Monroe County, New York, S.J. Clarke, 1902, p. 448


  • The Republic (Boston, 23 January 1909);
  • Catholic Sun (Syracuse, 22 January 1909);
  • Catholic News (New York, 23 January 1909);
  • Joseph M. Flynn, Catholic Church in New Jersey (Morristown, 1904);
  • Francis X. Reuss, Biog. Cyclo. Cath. Hierarchy of U. S. (Milwaukee, 1879);
  • Catholic Directory (1849–1909).

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
None (Diocese erected)
Bishop of Rochester, New York
Succeeded by
Thomas Francis Hickey