Richard Phelan

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This article is about the 19th century bishop. For the 20th century Illinois politician, see Richard Phelan (politician).
Rt. Rev. Richard Phelan
Bishop of Pittsburgh
Bishop Richard Phelan.png
A lithograph portrait of Bishop Phelan from The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Pittsburgh
In office December 7, 1889 – October 20, 1904
Predecessor John Tuigg
Successor Regis Canevin
Ordination May 4, 1854
Personal details
Born January 1, 1828
Ballyragget, Ireland
Died December 20, 1904(1904-12-20) (aged 76)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Previous post Titular Bishop of Cibyra

Richard Phelan, D.D. (January 1, 1828 – December 20, 1904) was an Irish-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who served as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States from 1889 to 1904.


Born on January 1, 1828 in Sralee, near Ballyragget, County Kilkenny, Ireland, he was educated by private tutors, and at St Kieran's College, Kilkenny. In 1850, as a seminarian, he volunteered to accompany Bishop Michael O'Connor to the United States, and entered St. Mary's Theological Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland. He was ordained priest in Pittsburgh on May 4, 1854.

In 1868, he became pastor of St. Peter's Catholic Church in Allegheny City (which, since 1907, is a part of the city of Pittsburgh). He built a new church at a cost of more than $150,000, and also completed the schools that his predecessor, had begun. During the absence of Bishop John Tuigg in 1881 he was appointed administrator of the dioceses of Pittsburgh and Allegheny, and he was subsequently made vicar-general. In 1885 he was nominated coadjutor to the two sees, with right of succession, and on 2 August was consecrated bishop of Cebeyra in partibus infidelium by Archbishop Patrick John Ryan. He ultimately succeeded Bishop Tuigg on December 7, 1889.

Phelan died on December 20, 1904 and is buried in St. Mary Cemetery in the city's Lawrenceville neighborhood.


  • Glenn, Francis A. (1993). Shepherds of the Faith 1843-1993: A Brief History of the Bishops of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh: Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. ISBN none. 

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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Tuigg
Bishop of Pittsburgh
Succeeded by
Regis Canevin