Henry Richter (bishop)

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Henry Joseph Richter
Bishop Henry Joseph Richter.jpg
Born(1838-04-09)April 9, 1838
DiedDecember 26, 1916(1916-12-26) (aged 78)

Henry Joseph Richter (April 9, 1838 – December 26, 1916) was a German-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the first Bishop of Grand Rapids, Michigan (1883–1916).


Henry Richter was born in Neuenkirchen, Münster, Oldenburg, to Johann and Anna (née Albers) Richter.[1] After studying at local schools and under a private teacher, he came to the United States in 1854 and settled at Cincinnati, Ohio, where he enrolled at St. Xavier's College.[2] He then studied at St. Joseph's College in Bardstown, Kentucky, before returning to Cincinnati to Mount St. Mary's Seminary.[2] In 1860 he was sent to further his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, from where he obtained a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1865.[1]

While in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Costantino Patrizi Naro on June 10, 1865.[3] Upon his return to Cincinnati in October 1865, Richter was named professor of dogmatic theology, philosophy, and liturgy at Mount St. Mary's Seminary.[2] He also served as chaplain to the Sisters of Charity at Cedar Grove, and became vice-president of Mount St. Mary's in 1866.[1] From 1870 to 1883, he was the founding pastor of St. Lawrence Church in the Price Hill neighborhood of Cincinnati.[1]

On January 30, 1883, Richter was appointed the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Pope Leo XIII.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following April 22 from Archbishop William Henry Elder, with Bishops Caspar Henry Borgess and William George McCloskey serving as co-consecrators, at St. Andrew's Cathedral.[3] At the time of his arrival, the diocese had 36 priests, 33 churches, 17 parochial schools, and 50,000 Catholics; by the time of his death, there were 75 priests, 56 churches, 38 parochial schools, and over 150,000 Catholics.[2] He also attended the Second (1882) and Fifth (1889) Provincial Councils of Cincinnati and the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884).[2]

Richter died after three days' illness at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids, aged 78.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "RICHTER, Henry Joseph" (PDF). Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.
  2. ^ a b c d e Moore, Charles (1915). History of Michigan. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company.
  3. ^ a b c "Bishop Henry Joseph Richter". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Grand Rapids
Succeeded by
Michael Gallagher