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Some Seed Fell on Good Ground

Some Seed Fell on Good Ground: The Life of Edwin V. O'Hara

Timothy Michael Dolan
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    Some Seed Fell on Good Ground
    Book Description:

    A man far ahead of his time, Archbishop Edwin V. O'Hara of Kansas City (1881-1956) orchestrated numerous initiatives that profoundly affected American Catholic life.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2106-9
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface to the Paperback Edition
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Timothy M. Dolan
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    John Tracy Ellis

    “In the simplest terms, a leader is one who knows where he wants to go, and then gets up, and goes.” That pithy definition provided by the Scottish reformer John Erskine could well apply to the subject of this book, Edwin V. O’Hara. Historians often encounter people of ideas, who shine at articulating plans or pointing to what should be done, or, on the other hand, men and women noted for their skill at organization and practical implementation. Rare is it, however, that we discover a person combining both such qualities, but such a man is Edwin O’Hara. It is...

  6. Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. Abbreviations Used within the Text
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. Chronology
    (pp. xxi-xxviii)
  9. 1 The Early Years
    (pp. 1-17)

    Faith, family, farming, and learning, all guiding values throughout the seventy-five years of Edwin Vincent O’Hara’s life, animated his formative years. Southeastern Minnesota, Fillmore County, in Amherst Township, 8 miles outside the village of Lanesboro, was the setting. In a stone farmhouse, the heart of the 320-acre family farm, Edwin Vincent was born to Owen and Margaret O’Hara on 6 September 1881, the eighth and last of their children.¹

    Owen and Margaret O’Hara were fervent Catholics, who viewed the birth of their eighth child as the most recent sign of the Almighty’s goodness to them. Yet, their blessings had not...

  10. 2 A Priest in Oregon
    (pp. 18-57)

    Father O’Hara reported to Archbishop Christie at the end of July 1905. Christie had heard much about his new recruit: he had been impressed with his grades and writings, and the seminary reports described him as an “idea man,” always ready to devise new ways to meet challenges to the church. O’Hara was noted especially for his solicitude for the needy and lack of timidity in defending the church’s rights. The archbishop appointed him curate at the Pro-Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at Fifteenth and Davis Streets in downtown Portland. The actual see of the archdiocese remained in Oregon City,...

  11. 3 O’Hara’s Rural Philosophy and Program
    (pp. 58-80)

    During his first fourteen years of priestly service in the Archdiocese of Oregon City O’Hara’s innate sympathies with the countryside had been pushed into the background by urban challenges. Never, however, had he lost his solidarity with those in isolated, far-flung rural areas.

    This affection was based on his memories of his own farm upbringing and his conviction that life on the land fostered religious, intellectual, emotional, and material well-being. As Vincent Wehrle, the bishop of Bismarck, remarked at the first meeting of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) in 1923, “There is something sacramental about country life,” a...

  12. 4 O’Hara’s New Rural Organizations
    (pp. 81-110)

    At the end of O’Hara’s 1921 report to the Catholic Educational Association, “The Rural Problem in Its Bearing on Catholic Education,” he called for “a national rural school policy” within the church to replace the haphazard approach he observed all over. Again the priest demonstrated his guiding thesis that a well-planned, coordinated effort was the most efficacious way to approach a problem. This conviction had already led him to consultations with national Catholic leaders that would blossom in the establishment of the Rural Life Bureau (RLB) of the Social Action Department (SAD) of the National Catholic Welfare Council on 1...

  13. 5 Bishop of Great Falls
    (pp. 111-125)

    On 22 July 1930 Father O’Hara, then lecturing on rural sociology at the University of Notre Dame Summer School, received a letter marked sub secreto arctissimo from Archbishop Pietro Fumasoni-Biondi, the apostolic delegate in the United States, informing the forty-eight-year-old director of the Rural Life Bureau, “I am pleased to inform you that it is the intention of Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XI, to appoint you Bishop of Great Falls, Montana.”¹ News of the appointment was made public on August 5, and was greeted with approval from all quarters.² The N.C.W.C. Review reported “unusual satisfaction” over the announcement across...

  14. 6 O’Hara and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
    (pp. 126-155)

    During his life Edwin O’Hara was most noted for his energetic promotion of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in the United States. His devotion to the CCD and indefatigable crusade to have it established in every parish surpassed even his lauded concern for rural affairs and his advancement of Catholic social justice. In fact, so much was he associated with the confraternity that his brother bishops, at a time when there were three O’Haras within the American hierarchy, referred to Edwin as “C.C.D. O’Hara,” to distinguish him from John O’Hara, C.S.C., the former president of the University of Notre Dame,...

  15. 7 The Revisionist Bishop
    (pp. 156-184)

    From his position as chairman of the Episcopal Committee of the CCD O’Hara launched projects of revision that had abiding influence upon American Catholics. The first concerned the Catechism of Christian Doctrine, known by its familiar name, the Baltimore Catechism. The process of review, begun in 1935 and continuing for the next six years, affected a little book that had been memorized by Catholic children for nearly fifty years and would remain the staple tool of religious education for another quarter-century after its revision.

    The source of its title was the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, held in 1884, which...

  16. 8 Apostle of Justice and Peace
    (pp. 185-216)

    “Few people in his generation have made such a great contribution to the important social movements of his time,” claimed the Reverend John O’Grady, a leader of the National Conference of Catholic Charities, in describing Edwin V. O’Hara.¹ When asked for his opinion of O’Hara, the Reverend Louis J. Putz, C.S.C., a respected social reformer, replied, “He was in my opinion one of the outstanding sponsors of social legislation in this country. Father [Raymond] McGowan always referred to him as his best backer among the bishops.”² O’Hara’s work in housing, care for the unemployed, promotion of pioneer minimum wage legislation,...

  17. 9 Bishop of Kansas City
    (pp. 217-240)

    On 3 April 1939 a communication from the apostolic delegation marked sub secreto was delivered to Edwin V. O’Hara, bishop of the vast Diocese of Great Falls for the previous eight and a half years. The document, signed by Archbishop Cicognani, read, “I have just received a cablegram from Rome, informing me that the Holy Father intends to transfer you to the Diocese of Kansas City.”¹ O’Hara wired his acceptance, and the appointment was made public twelve days later.

    The bishop, although sorry to leave the expansive diocese he had come to know so well, was pleased with his new...

  18. Conclusion
    (pp. 241-246)

    “Praise for him rings from countless quarters,” wrote Luigi Ligutti on the death of Edwin V. O’Hara, “from the fields of farmers to the classrooms of urban parishes, from factories in cities to meeting rooms on Massachusetts Avenue, from teachers in religious vacation schools to catechists in Costa Rica, from those who now regularly read the Bible to those happy to hear parts of the Mass in their own tongue, the name of this gentle, brilliant leader is blessed.” As George L. Goldman, the Jewish philanthropist from Kansas City, summed up, “The Archbishop’s vision was exceeded only by his ability...

  19. Essay on Sources
    (pp. 247-260)
  20. Notes
    (pp. 261-294)
  21. Index
    (pp. 295-300)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)