William Edwin Franklin

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For other men named William Franklin, see William Franklin (disambiguation).
The Most Reverend
William Edwin Franklin
Bishop Emeritus of Davenport
Church Catholic Church
Archdiocese Dubuque
Diocese Davenport
Appointed November 12, 1993
Installed January 20, 1994
Term ended October 12, 2006
Predecessor Gerald Francis O'Keefe
Successor Martin John Amos
Ordination February 4, 1956
by Leo Binz
Consecration April 1, 1987
by Daniel Kucera, James Joseph Byrne, and Francis John Dunn
Personal details
Born (1930-05-03) May 3, 1930 (age 86)
Parnell, Iowa
Previous post Titular Bishop of Surista
Auxiliary Bishop of Dubuque
Motto Faith Hope Love
Styles of
William Edwin Franklin
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop

William Edwin Franklin (born May 3, 1930) is a bishop of the Catholic Church in the United States. He served as auxiliary bishop of Archdiocese of Dubuque in the state of Iowa from 1987 to 1993, and as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Davenport, also in Iowa, from 1993 to 2006.


Early Life & Ministry[edit]

Born in Parnell, Iowa, Franklin was educated in the local parochial school and at the former St. Patrick High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He graduated from Loras College, and studied for the priesthood at Mount St. Bernard's Seminary in Dubuque.[1] He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Dubuque on February 4, 1956 by Archbishop Leo Binz. His initial assignment was as secretary to Archbishop Emeritus Henry Rohlman. He was then engaged in education and pastoral work. From 1959 to 1974 he was a member of the faculty at Wahlert High School in Dubuque. In 1984 he was assigned as dean of the Waterloo Deanery.[2] At the time of his appointment as bishop he was the pastor of St. Edward's Church in Waterloo.

On January 29, 1987, Franklin was named Titular Bishop of Surista and Auxiliary Bishop of Dubuque by Pope John Paul II. He was ordained a bishop by Archbishop Daniel W. Kucera, OSB of Dubuque on April 1, 1987 in St. Raphael's Cathedral. Archbishop Emeritus James J. Byrne and Auxiliary Bishop Francis Dunn, both of Dubuque, acted as principal co-consecrators.[3] He was assigned to be Episcopal Vicar of the Waterloo Region of the archdiocese.[4]

Bishop of Davenport[edit]

On November 12, 1993, John Paul II named Bishop Franklin as the seventh Bishop of Davenport. He was installed January 20, 1994[1] by Archbishop Kucera in Sacred Heart Cathedral in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan.

Bishop Franklin was known for his homily style. He would walk the aisles of the church and speak directly to the congregation, often asking them questions.

Franklin revised the structure of the diocesan staff, creating an Office of Pastoral Services that combined the ministries of liturgy, education and social action into the same office to facilitate better communication. He initially did away with the Diocesan Pastoral Council and instituted a Diocesan Pastoral Council Convocation in its place. This yearly event drew together clergy, religious and parishioners from throughout the diocese for their input and formation. He also restructured the deaneries to include Deanery Councils, again to better facilitate communication between the diocese and its people.

St. Alphonsus Church in Davenport was one of several parishes in the diocese that was affected by the decline in the number of priests.

Several parishes in the diocese were either merged or closed because of changing demographics. The Redemptorists, who had served St. Alphonsus parish in Davenport for 89 years as well as other parishes, left the diocese in 1997 because of declining numbers.[5] The Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton built a new motherhouse in Clinton called the Canticle, also in 1997.[6] Irene Prior Loftus was the first lay person to serve as the diocesan chancellor, and Mary Weiser was hired as the first lay person to serve the diocese as superintendent of schools.

In 2000 the diocese, along with the entire church, celebrated the Jubilee Year proclaimed by Pope John Paul II. There were no diocesan celebrations, rather they were planned and celebrated in the diocese's six deaneries. The following year the pope bestowed papal honors on 26 people of the diocese upon Bishop Franklin's nomination. Four priests were named Chaplains to His Holiness, eight lay men were honored as Knights of St. Gregory the Great, three women received the honor of Dames of the Order of St. Gregory the Great and 11 men and women received the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. The three women who were bestowed with the Order of St. Gregory the Great were the first such recipients in the history of the diocese.[7]

The diocese lost two of its colleges just after the turn of the 21st century. Marycrest International University, which began as a woman's college in the 1930s, closed its doors in 2002.[8] Mt. St. Clair College in Clinton expanded and became The Franciscan University in 2002 and then The Franciscan University of the Prairies two years later. In 2005, it was sold to Bridgepoint Education, Inc and became Ashford University, ending its affiliation with the Catholic Church.[9] Franklin's later years as diocesan bishop were consumed by the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

In 2006, the diocese celebrated its 125th anniversary. A Eucharistic Congress was held to mark the occasion at the LeClaire Park Bandshell. Bishop Paul Coakly of the Diocese of Salina preached the homily at the concluding Mass.[10][11]

On October 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Franklin's resignation, and he was named Bishop Emeritus of Davenport.[3] He currently resides in Davenport.


Franklin Hall, a residence hall at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa is named in his honor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bunson, Matthew (2010). 2010 Catholic Almanac. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor. p. 401. 
  2. ^ "Franklin, William Edward (sic)". Encyclopedia Dubuque. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  3. ^ a b "Bishop William Edwin Franklin". Catholic-Hierarchy. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  4. ^ "Kucera, Daniel". Encyclopedia Dubuque. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  5. ^ St. Alphonsus Parish Davenport, Iowa 100th Anniversary 1908–2008. Davenport, Iowa: St. Alphonsus Parish. 2008. 
  6. ^ "History". Clinton Franciscans. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  7. ^ Barb Arland-Fye (2001-11-21). "Davenport Diocese honors Outstanding Catholics today". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  8. ^ Ann McGlynn, Lee Nelson (2001-12-18). "Marycrest to close doors". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  9. ^ Ann McGlynn (2005-03-30). "Bridgepoint Education buys Franciscan college". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  10. ^ Deirdre Cox Baker (2005-06-22). "Faithful to rally by the river". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  11. ^ Mary Louise Speer (2006-10-10). "Diocese has bumpy road to the future". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 

External Links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Gerald Francis O'Keefe
Bishop of Davenport
Succeeded by
Martin John Amos
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Dubuque
Succeeded by