William O'Hara

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Right Rev. William O'Hara
Bishop of Scranton
William O'Hara 1893.jpg
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
In officeJuly 12, 1868—February 3, 1899
PredecessorNew creation
SuccessorMichael John Hoban
OrdinationDecember 21, 1842
ConsecrationJuly 12, 1868
Personal details
Born(1816-04-14)April 14, 1816
Dungiven, County Londonderry, Ireland
DiedFebruary 3, 1899(1899-02-03) (aged 82)
Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States

William O'Hara (April 14, 1816 – February 3, 1899) was an Irish-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the first Bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania (1868–1899). O'Hara is credited as the founder of St. Thomas College, which is now known as the University of Scranton.

Early life[edit]

O'Hara was born in Dungiven, County Londonderry, he came with his parents to the United States in 1820, settling at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1]


After attending Georgetown College in 1832, he was sent by Bishop Francis Kenrick to study at the College of the Propaganda in Rome.[2] He there earned his Doctor of Divinity degree with the highest honors.[2] While in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Giacomo Filippo Fransoni on December 21, 1842.[3]


O'Hara, following his return to Pennsylvania, was named a curate at St. Patrick's Church in Philadelphia.[4] He then served as rector and professor of moral theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.[4] He became pastor of St. Patrick's Church in 1856, and vicar general of the Diocese of Philadelphia in 1860.[1]


On March 3, 1868, O'Hara was appointed the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Scranton by Pope Pius IX.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following July 12 from Bishop James Frederick Wood, with Bishops William Henry Elder and Patrick N. Lynch serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul.[3] At the time of O'Hara's arrival in Scranton the following September, there were only 24 priests and parishes.[5] By the time of his death 30 years later, there were 152 priests, 100 parishes, and 32 parochial schools.[5] He also founded St. Thomas College (later University of Scranton), an orphanage, and a hospital.[5]


O'Hara died after a long illness in Scranton, aged 82.[2] He is buried under the main altar of St. Peter's Cathedral.[4]


  1. ^ a b O'Donnell, John Hugh (1922). "The Catholic Hierarchy of the United States, 1790-1922". The Catholic University of America Studies in American Church History. Washington, D.C. IV.
  2. ^ a b c "BISHOP O'HARA DEAD". The New York Times. 1899-02-04.
  3. ^ a b c "Bishop William O'Hara". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.[self-published source]
  4. ^ a b c Brennan, Andrew (1912). "Scranton". Catholic Encyclopedia. XIII. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  5. ^ a b c "Bishop William O'Hara: 1868-1899". Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton.
Catholic Church titles
New creation Bishop of Scranton
Succeeded by
Michael John Hoban