Paul Leonard Hagarty

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Paul Leonard Hagarty, O.S.B., O.B.E. (March 20, 1909 – September 22, 1984) was an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He was the first Bishop of Nassau (1960–81), having previously served as Vicar Apostolic of the Bahama Islands (1950–60).


Hagarty was born in Greene, Iowa, one of ten children of James Herbert and Lucy Belle (née O'Connell) Hagarty.[1] He attended Oakland School No. 8 and Sacred Heart Academy before entering Greene Catholic High School.[1] He then studied at Loras College in Dubuque, where he paid for his first year with the compensation he received from a railroad accident in which he suffered a broken leg.[2] He paid the rest of his way through college with a Saturday job at J. C. Penney, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1930.[2]

He worked as a geologist for the Union Pacific Railroad, as well as a junior meteorologist with the National Weather Service, before joining the Order of St. Benedict, more commonly known as the Benedictines, at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, in 1931.[2] He made his profession as a Benedictine monk on November 6, 1932, taking the name Leonard.[1] He was ordained to the priesthood on June 6, 1936.[3]

In 1937, Hagarty was sent by his superiors to serve as a missionary to the Bahama Islands, a British colony, where he served as a curate at St. Francis Xavier Church in Nassau for five years.[1] In addition to his pastoral work, he was also a chaplain for the local leper colony, Goodwill Orphanage, and the general hospital.[2] During World War II, he served as an auxiliary chaplain to British and American troops in the Bahamas.[1] He developed a close relationship with Bishop John Kevenhoerster, who brought Hagarty with him on his collecting tours and later sent him to the University of Oxford for postgraduate studies.[2] He became director of education following his return, reforming the Catholic school system.[2]

On June 25, 1950, Hagarty was appointed Vicar Apostolic of the Bahama Islands and Titular Bishop of Arba by Pope Pius XII.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following October 19 from Archbishop Amleto Cicognani at the Church of Our Lady of the Holy Souls in Nassau.[3] The apostolic vicariate was elevated to the Diocese of Nassau by Pope John XXIII on July 5, 1960, with Hagarty becoming its first Bishop.[3] During his tenure, he greatly expanded Catholic participation in education and social development. He attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. In February 1979, he hosted Pope John Paul II during his visit to Nassau.[2] He was also named an Officer of The Order of The British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

Hagarty resigned as bishop on July 17, 1981 due to poor health.[3] He later died at St. John's Abbey at age 75, and is entombed at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Nassau.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, MI: Walter Romig.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Lawlor, Jim (2009-10-08). "Roman Catholic Bishop Paul Leonard Hagarty". The Tribune. Archived from the original on 2012-03-29.
  3. ^ a b c d e Cheney, David M. "Bishop Paul Leonard Hagarty, O.S.B."[self-published source]
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Nassau
Succeeded by
Lawrence Aloysius Burke