William George McCloskey

William George McCloskey

William George McCloskey (Brooklyn, New York, November 10, 1823 – September 17, 1909) was an American Catholic priest, who became Bishop of Louisville, Kentucky.



He was sent to Mount St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1835. In May, 1850, he was ordained subdeacon at that seminary by Samuel Eccleston, Archbishop of Baltimore, and October 6, 1852, was ordained priest by [Bishop John Hughes in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. He said his first Mass in the basement of the Church of the Nativity, of which his brother George was then pastor, and remained there ten months as assistant. Then, from a desire to live in the seminary cloister, he returned with the consent of his superiors to Mount St. Mary's, where he taught moral theology, Scripture, and Latin for about six years.

He was appointed, December 1, 1859, the first rector of the American College at Rome, being the unanimous choice of the American bishops. He reached Rome March, 1860. Georgetown University had shortly before conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Dr. McCloskey's administration of the American College included the period of the American Civil War. There were serious divisions in the student body.

He was rector until his promotion to the See of Louisville in May, 1868, being consecrated bishop in the chapel of the college on May 24 of that year by Cardinal de Reisach, Archbishop of Munich, Bavaria, assisted by Monsignor Xavier de Mérode, minister of Pope Pius IX, and by Monsignor Viteleschi, Archbishop of Osimo and Cingoli.

He arrived in Louisville, as its bishop, towards the end of summer, 1868. He found sixty-four churches and left in his diocese at his death one hundred and sixty-five.

He introduced many religious orders into the diocese: the Passionists, the Benedictines, the Fathers of the Resurrection, the Sisters of Mercy, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Franciscan Sisters, and the Brothers of Mary. The growth of the parochial schools was chiefly the product of his zeal. In 1869 he established the diocesan seminary known as Preston Park Seminary.

He was present at the First Vatican Council in 1870. He also attended the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866, and the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, in 1884, strongly advocating in the former the cause of the American College at Rome.


He wrote a life of Mary Magdalen (Louisville, 1900).


He was the youngest of five brothers. Two of his older brothers also became priests: John McCloskey, for years president of Mount St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg; and George, pastor of the Church of the Nativity, New York.


  • The Record, the diocesan organ of Louisville, files;
  • Brann, History of the American College at Rome (New York, 1910)

External links

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

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