Vincent J. McCauley

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Vincent Joseph McCauley
Bishop of Fort Portal
Province Mbarara
Diocese Fort Portal
Installed July 2, 1961
Term ended November 16, 1972
Predecessor None
Successor Serapio Bwemi Magambo
Ordination June 24, 1934
Consecration May 18, 1961
Personal details
Born (1906-03-08)March 8, 1906
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Died November 1, 1982(1982-11-01) (aged 76)
Rochester, Minnesota
Buried Notre Dame, Indiana
Nationality  American
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Styles of
Vincent Joseph McCauley
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop
Posthumous style Servant of God

Vincent Joseph McCauley, C.S.C. (March 8, 1906 – November 1, 1982) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. A member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, he was the first Bishop of Fort Portal, having served as the ordinary of the diocese from 1961 to 1972. Later, he served as executive director of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa from 1972 to 1979. A Servant of God, his cause for canonization was introduced in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in August 2006.

Early life[edit]

McCauley, the eldest of six children, was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Charles McCauley and Mary Wickham. His father was a wire chief for American Telephone & Telegraph in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother attended to the needs of the home. The family prayed the rosary daily. Active in St. Francis Xavier Parish in Council Bluffs, his father was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and his mother was active in the altar guild and various prayer circles. These groups later assisted McCauley during his missionary efforts during troubled periods of the Great Depression and World War II.[1]:9–16

McCauley attended Creighton Preparatory School, where he excelled in sports, especially baseball. He even played semi-professional baseball in Omaha to earn extra money. He graduated in 1924 and entered at Creighton University’s College of Arts and Letters as part of the class of 1928. His time at Creighton was cut short when members of the Congregation of Holy Cross gave a parish mission at St. Francis Xavier in the fall of 1924. Like many young Catholics, McCauley was “enamored by the mystique of Notre Dame.” In November 1924, McCauley left Council Bluffs to join the Congregation of Holy Cross.[1]:17–18

Formation in the Congregation of Holy Cross[edit]

July 1, 1925, McCauley entered the novitiate, professing first vows on July 2, 1926. He then professed perpetual vows on July 2, 1929 and graduated from the University of Notre Dame in June 1930. He then went to the Foreign Missionary Seminary in Washington, D.C. He was ordained a deacon on October 1, 1933. He was ordained a priest on June 24, 1934 by Bishop John F. Noll at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame.[1]:18–19

McCauley was formed at the Foreign Mission Seminary to serve as an overseas missionary. Years later, McCauley, in a lecture at Creighton, at least partially attributed his motivation to be a missionary to the example of sharing and self-sacrifice that he experienced from family and friends at home in Council Bluffs. After his 1934 ordination, the Congregation of Holy Cross, with the economic hardship of the Great Depression, had insufficient funds to send McCauley overseas. Immediately after ordination, McCauley as a member of the faculty at the congregation’s seminary in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. McCauley, also the seminary’s director maintenance, was responsible for its relocation to the estate of Frederick Lothrop Ames, Jr. in Easton, Massachusetts in 1935. This estate became Stonehill College in 1948.[1]:20–22

Missionary to Bengal: 1936–1944[edit]

A recovering economy allowed for McCauley’s assignment to East Bengal, a territory that roughly corresponds to modern day Bangladesh. McCauley departed along with another Holy Cross priest and two Holy Cross brothers aboard the RMS Franconia (1922) on October 12, 1936. He arrived in Dhaka on November 16, 1936.[1]:35

From 1936 to 1939 McCauley was assigned to Bandhura to work in education, teaching in a high school and forming catechists. The mission in Bandhura instilled a lifelong commitment in McCauley to the formation of indigenous clergy. In 1939, McCauley was assigned to work with the Kuki people in the Mymensingh District. His ministry to the Kukis centered on evangelization and the sacramental life. While there, he contracted Malaria and spent several months of 1940 recuperating.[1]:37–47

On October 1, 1940, he was appointed rector and superior of Little Flower Seminary in Bandhura. His health remained fragile, battling relapses of malaria and other tropical maladies with regular frequency.[1]:50

In fact, McCauley’s enthusiasm for the mission could not conquer his persistent health problems. In December 1943, while on a trip to Dhaka, health problems flared anew, a severe case of Phlebitis causing a two-month hospitalization. Eventually, in the midst of World War II, Holy Cross prevailed upon the U.S. Army for assistance in providing a medical evacuation for McCauley. Flown back to the U.S., he began an extended period of recovery.[2]

Work in the United States: 1946–1958[edit]

In June 1945, McCauley began as assistant superior of the Foreign Mission Seminary in Washington, D.C., the very place he had studied. In 1946, he was appointed superior and rector, a post he would hold for six years.[1]:63

In 1952, he was appointed procurator for the missions. During this period he began his first treatment at the Mayo Clinic for Skin cancer. As the chief fundraiser for Holy Cross Missions in Bengal, he bragged that he would log 80,000 miles annually to preach missions and raise funds.[1]:70

Mission to Africa: 1958–1961[edit]

Along with Fr. Arnold Fell, C.S.C., McCauley was sent to Uganda on a fact-finding mission. They were sent to offer a recommendation as to whether or not the Congregation of Holy Cross should assume responsibility for a mission in Uganda within the kingdoms of Bunyoro and Toro. In the report, McCauley wrote, “Unless something changes our impression, this is a great opportunity for Holy Cross.” Superiors in the order agreed, and plans were drawn up to send a group of religious to serve in Uganda.[1]:78–79

In site of on-going concerns about his health, McCauley was selected to lead the mission, along with three newly ordained Holy Cross priests: Francis Zagorc, C.S.C., Robert Hesse, C.S.C., and Burton Smith, C.S.C. All three of the newly ordained had been slated for service in Bangladesh and had already sent their trunks there.[1]:84

The Holy Cross religious arrived in Entebbe International Airport on November 4, 1958. Holy Cross served in the northern portion of the diocese, in and around Fort Portal.[1]:102 After three years of settling in, establishing institutions, and growth in the region, Holy Cross and McCauley were poised to take a further step in autonomy with the establishment of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Portal.[1]:114

Episcopal career: 1961–1972[edit]

Having successfully guided the Holy Cross mission in Uganda from its beginning, Vincent McCauley was the most natural fit to continue leadership as the first bishop of Fort Portal. Consecrated a bishop at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame in May 1961, he was installed as bishop of Fort Portal two months later and set about organizing the new diocese. The independence movement in Uganda influenced his initial leadership. McCauley also organized his diocese according to principles that had guided his missionary efforts for the previous twenty years, namely: Inculturation and promotion of the local church and local clergy.

McCauley attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, and it proved to be a strong influence on his leadership as bishop. While he labored to establish the necessary financing for his young diocese, he also sought to provide pastoral leadership for his diocese. In the mid-1960s, McCauley was an advocate for refugees from Rwanda, the Congo, and the Sudan. He worked to form close bonds among priests of diverse ages and nationalities from different cultures and religious orders. McCauley also had to overcome conflict among the tribes of his diocese. McCauley also led and supported the development of religious congregations of women and promoted their movement into new areas of ministry. Further, Bishop McCauley was instrumental in the promotion of the laity and ecumenism. McCauley also led great strides in the area of education. McCauley accomplished all this while suffering from repeated bouts with skin cancer, malaria, and other ailments.

AMECEA: 1964–1979[edit]

From the outset of his time as bishop of Fort Portal, McCauley worked to organize and to promote the work of the Catholic Church in East Africa. In 1964, during the Second Vatican Council, McCauley became chairman of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA). As chairman, McCauley guided the bishops to present a voice at Vatican II, guided the association through its first three triennial plenary meetings, and arranged the basic organization of AMECEA and its departments. Along with Fr. Killian Flynn, O.F.M., Cap., the organization's first secretary-general, McCauley rescued the organization’s finances. He also established the Gaba Pastoral Institute for the formation of catechists. When his period of chairmanship ended in 1973, he replaced Flynn as secretary-general. McCauley, in assuming the new responsibility, moved from Fort Portal to Nairobi.


Bishop McCauley suffered from facial skin cancer for much of his adult life. In all, he had more than fifty surgeries. As he grew older, additional health concerns emerged. In September 1976, a plastic aorta was inserted into his heart at the Mayo Clinic. Beginning in July 1982, he began to suffer acute pulmonary hemorrhages. In October 1982, he returned to the U.S. for treatment. After a particularly severe hemorrhage, aware of the risks, McCauley undertook exploratory surgery and died while undergoing the surgery on November 1, 1982. On November 4, 1982, McCauley was buried in the Holy Cross community cemetery at Notre Dame.[1]:333

In August 2006, the cause for canonization of Bishop McCauley, C.S.C. was introduced in the Congregation of Saints. As “Servant of God” Bishop McCauley’s is continuing to be reviewed by the Diocese of Fort Portal.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Richard Gribble, C.S.C. (2008). Vincent McCauley, C.S.C.: Bishop of the Poor, Apostle of East Africa. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Servant of God Vincent J. McCauley". 

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