The Most Reverend Michael Augustine Corrigan

(1839 – 1902)


Third Archbishop of New York, b. 13 August, 1839, in Market Street, near Broad, Newark, New Jersey, Michael Augustine, son of Thomas and Mary Corrigan, received the sacrament of Baptism at the home of his parents on the fifteenth of the following month; d. at New York, 5 May, 1902.  Of nine children, eight of whom were boys, Michael Augustine was the fifth child and the fourth boy.  A native of Kells, County Meath, Ireland, his father, Thomas, son of Philip Corrigan and of Anne Carroll, emigrating in 1828, at the age of twenty-nine, settled in Newark, where for a time he followed the trade of a cabinetmaker–a trade in which he had served an indentured apprenticeship in Dublin.  Mary, the mother of Michael Augustine, was one of six children, the offspring of Eleanor Hoey and Thomas English, of Kingscourt, in the County of Cavan.  The Hoeys were Catholics, while the Englishes were Presbyterians; a brother of Thomas being a minister of that denomination.  After the death of Thomas English, who, possessing a large tract of land under an interminable lease, left his widow in comfortable circumstances, Eleanor Hoey English, with her children, followed two brothers and two sisters, in 1827, and took up a residence in Brooklyn, Long Island.  From Brooklyn she moved to Newark, where, on July 31, 1831, her daughter, Mary English, married Thomas Corrigan.

Fairly well educated for their day, father and mother were gifted with that love of learning which, implanted by nature in the soul of their race, has, through all the centuries of trial, been nurtured by the traditions of a famous past, if not by the hope of a ;more famous future.  Before 1850 there was no parochial school in Newark, nor were there any other public schools to boast of.  However, at least one scholarly teacher has been tempted to seek a livelihood in Newark–Bernard Kearney, a native of Malahide, near Dublin; the son of a schoolmaster who had himself made thorough studies in an ecclesiastical seminary.  Facing many discouragement’s, Bernard Kearney slowly earned a reputation of ability, and his private school, in Plane Street, attracted Protestant as well as Catholic youth.  Under him, Michael Augustine, who, by the way, was the godson of his tutor, beginning in 1848, made his preparatory studies in the English branches, in mathematics, and in Latin also.  At the Sunday-school of St. John’s Church–a school organised by the priest who baptised him, and the first Sunday-school in New Jersey–he was a pupil under Father Patrick Moran, one of the pioneers; and of this church he was an acolyte, as, later, he was of St. Patrick’s, the present Cathedral, where on the fourteenth of September, 1851, he first received the Holy Communion.

 At the age of fourteen his parents sent him to St. Mary’s College, Wilmington, Delaware.  There he passed the two scholastic years 1853-55.  On March 5, 1854, in St. Peter’s Church, Wilmington, the sacrament of Confirmation was administered to him by the saintly Bishop John Neumann of Philadelphia.  After graduating at Mount St. Mary’s College, Emmittsburg, Maryland, in 1859, he entered the College of the Propaganda at Rome, and was one the twelve students with whom the North American College was opened there, 8 December, 1859.  He was ordained priest at Rome, 19 September, 1863, and received there the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1864.  Returning to his native diocese in September, 1864, he was successively professor of dogmatic theology and of Scripture, vice-president and president of Seton Hall College and Seminary, and vicar-general of the diocese until 1873, when on 4 May he was consecrated Bishop of Newark.  His administration, during the seven years of its continuance, was characterised by unceasing and successful efforts to bring the regulation of the spiritual and temporal affairs of the diocese into strict accordance with the prescriptions and recommendations of the plenary councils of the Church in the United States that had been held previous to his accession to the episcopacy.

            The declining health of Cardinal McCloskey, Archbishop of New York requiring the appointment of a coadjutor, the young Bishop of Newark was named, 1 October, 1880, titular Archbishop of Petra, with the right of succession for New York, and on the death of Cardinal McCloskey in October, 1885, he assumed charge.  Having taken an active part in the proceedings of the Third Plenary Council in Baltimore (1184) as the representative of the cardinal, his first important act as archbishop was to convoke a synod of the diocese, in November, 1886, to carry into effect the decrees of the council.  The considerable changes made by the council in the status of the clergy and its provisions for the administration of the dioceses of the United States, as to their subordinate officials, were adopted.  A new theological seminary, to replace that of St. Joseph’s, Troy, was built at Dunwoodie and opened September, 1896.  The unfinished towers of St. Patrick’s Cathedral were completed.  The Orphan Asylums on Fifth and Madison Avenues were transferred to a new suburban location at Kingsbridge.  The construction of the Lady Chapel of the cathedral through funds donated by a generous Catholic family, was begun.

During the municipal election of 1886 Archbishop Corrigan deemed it his duty to disapprove of the socialistic character of the writings and addresses of one of the candidates for the mayoralty.  This brought about the most disturbing incident, perhaps of the archbishop’s administration, the difference between himself and a prominent member of his clergy, the Rev. Dr. Edward McGlynn, rector of St. Stephen’s Church, New York city, occasioned by the later’s advocacy of opinions which the archbishop believed were not in accord with Catholic teaching of the subject of the rights of property.  The controversy began in 1886 with the clergyman’s appearance on the public platform, in behalf of one of the candidates for mayor, who stood for certain novel economic theories, and led to the privation of his pastoral office.  Not complying afterwards with the order of pope, Leo XIII, to proceed to Rome, he incurred the sentence of excommunication.

There resulted some commotion in ecclesiastical and other circles, accentuated later (1892) by a new phase which the Catholic School question assumed in its relation to the State.  A period of much public discussion and excitement followed which, however, began to subside rapidly when Dr. McGlynn was relieved of the censure by the Apostolic Delegate, then Archbishop Satolli, and obeyed the summons of the Holy Father.  In 1894 Archbishop Corrigan appointed Dr. McGlynn pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Newburgh, where he remained until his death in 1901.

On May 4th, 1898, Archbishop Corrigan celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his episcopal consecration.  Laymen, priests, and many prominent non-Catholics assembled to testify to his virtues as an ecclesiastic and as a citizen.  He had his last visit ad limina Apostolorum in 1900.  Two years afterwards, returning from a confirmation visit to the Bahamas, he contracted a cold, which, aggravated by an accident, caused he death on May 5th of the same year.  The manifestation of sentiments of respect and affection on that event was not only local but national.  From the beginning of his episcopate in New York he was obliged to face the problem of the great influx of foreign, especially Italian, immigration and its religious requirements.  He had to guide and direct the charitable and educational interests of his diocese which rapidly and widely expanded during his administration.  During the seventeen years of his rule he was instrumental in the increase of the churches, chapels, and stations of the archdiocese by one hundred and eighty-eight, of the clergy by two hundred and eighty-four, of schools by seventy-five.  He scholarship was deep and wide, extending to every branch of ecclesiastical learning; his piety marked but unobtrusive; his methods gently but firm.  He devotion, his zeal, and his unceasing labours in behalf of religion make him a conspicuous figure in the history of the American Church of the nineteenth century.  The only literary production that his busy life as a priest and bishop permitted him to publish was a “Register of the Clergy labouring in the Archdiocese of New York from early missions to 1885”, which he compiled for the “Historical Records and Studies” of the United States Catholic History Society (Jan.,1889,sqq.).

(src:  The Catholic Encyclopaedia)


Corrigan, Michael Augustine b. August 13, 1839. d. May 5, 1900
Third Archbishop of New York
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Manhattan, New York, USA.
Specific Interment Location: crypt under the altar.


   1       Mr. Philip CORRIGAN  b: Unknown in Kells, County Meath, Ireland  d: Unknown
+Ms. Anne CARROLL  b: Unknown in Kells, County Meath, Ireland  m: ABT  1798 in Kells, County Meath, Ireland  d: Unknown

2  Mr. Thomas CORRIGAN  b: 1799 in Kells, County Meath, Ireland   d: Unknown in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
+Ms. Mary ENGLISH  b: Unknown in Kingscourt, County Cavan, Ireland               m: July 31, 1831 in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.    d: Unknown in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.

3  Most Rev. Michael Agustine CORRIGAN  b: August 13, 1839 in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.  d: May 5, 1902 in New York City, New York, U.S.A.

3  Rev. George W. CORRIGAN  b: Unknown in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.  : Unknown
3  Rev. James H. CORRIGAN  b: June 29th, 1844 in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.  d: Unknown
3   Mr. J.F. CORRIGAN  b: Unknown in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.  d: Unknown
3  Mr. Brother-5 M.A.C.  b: Unknown in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.  d: Unknown
3  Mr. Brother-6 M.A.C.  b: Unknown in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.  d: Unknown
3  Mr. Brother-7 M.A.C.  b: Unknown in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.  d: Unknown
3  Mr. Brother-8 M.A.C.  b: Unknown in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.  d: Unknown
3  Ms. Catherine CORRIGAN  b: Unknown in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.  d: Unknown

Association with Seton Hall Seminary

Hardly had the new Seminary at Seton College (now the Administration Building) been occupied, when its first President was called to the recently erected See of Rochester. He was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. Michael A. Corrigan, then Vice-President, who at the early age of twenty-eight was placed in this important position. A few months later, on October 8th, Bishop Bayley named Dr. Corrigan Vicar-General of the diocese. Dr. Corrigan, an eminent educator, besides making many repairs, devoted his attention to reorganizing the program of studies. It was Dr. Corrigan, who, as Administrator of the diocese, as well as President of the college, dedicated the college chapel on February 6th, 1870. Bishop Bayley was at that time in Rome at the Vatican Council. In this chapel, on June 3rd, 1871, the noted convert, the Rev. William P. Salt, who became so thoroughly identified with Seton Hall, was elevated to the sacred ministry. Father Salt, still fresh in the memory of the older generation, was born in Brooklyn, New York, September 19th, 1837. Forced to take up the trade of carpenter at an early age, his insatiable thirst for knowledge led him to spend every leisure moment in reading and studying. In this way he completed not only the usual academic course, but became acquainted with several modern

languages and read law, at the same time supporting himself by doing odd jobs and teaching a country school. Although his parents were Baptists, Mr. Salt, in 1859, joined the Protestant Episcopal Church and decided to enter the ministry. He entered, in 1861, the Theological Seminary of Camden, South Carolina. In the second year of the war he was drafted in the Confederate Army and there served to the end. Not having the means of transportation, he and a companion started to make the journey home to the North from  Charleston on foot. Finally, late in the year 1865, he returned to his father’s house, and found his family struggling with poverty. While helping his father at his trade he was accepted as a candidate for the Episcopal orders, and finally was promoted to the Protestant diaconate. Doubting the tenets of the Episcopal Church he made an investigation, and being convinced of the authority of the Catholic Church, he was baptized in St. Ann’s Church, New York, by the Rt. Rev. Monsignor Preston, in 1867. Shortly afterwards he entered the Seminary at Seton Hall. Bishop Bayley sent him to the American College at Rome, where he went through the trying days when Garabaldi attacked the city and despoiled the Church of its temporal power. He returned to Seton Hall and was ordained. He occupied successively the chairs of Logic, History, Political Economy, Evidences, Mathematics and Natural Science, and was Director of the seminary and Treasurer of the college for many years during the presidencies of Dr. Corrigan and the Rev. James H. Corrigan. He was made Vicar-General of the diocese by Bishop Wigger, and continued to teach and to direct the affairs of the seminary until within two years of his death, which occurred on October 7th, 1891. His courage, his honesty, his frankness and his unfailing courtesy won him the respect, the confidence and admiration of all. He bequeathed to Seton Hall his large and well selectedlibrary.
In September, 1872, Bishop Bayley received the Apostolic letters appointing him Archbishop of Baltimore. Dr. Corrigan was made Administrator of the diocese, and was consecrated Bishop of Newark in the old New York Cathedral by Archbishop, later Cardinal McCloskey, in 1873. He was the youngest bishop in the Catholic Hierarchy in America. He retained his office as President of Seton Hall until 1876 when he transferred the duties of this position to his brother, the Rev. James H. Corrigan. In 1878-1879 he held the 3rd and 4th Synods of the Newark diocese. In 1880, as Titular Archbishop of Titra, he became Coadjutor to Cardinal McCloskey of New York, whom he succeeded on October 10th, being the youngest archbishop of a Metropolitan See. After his transfer to New York he still continued his interest in Seton Hall. He donated a burse to the seminary in 1884. It is not the time nor the place to speak of the trials and difficulties which he had to meet, and which, in his gentle, yet determined manner, he surmounted. Besides founding St. Joseph’s Seminary at Dunwoodie, he had the satisfaction of completing the spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He passed to his reward on May 5th, 1902.

Among the noted personages associated with Seton Hall we cannot omit the name of the grandnephew of the Revered Mother Elizabeth Seton, the Most Rev. Robert Seton, D.D., Archbishop of Heliopolis, Born in Pisa, Italy, August 28ih, 1839, he enjoyed every advantage in the course of his studies, both at home and abroad, and early developed a taste for the Old World with its memories, which was always a mark of his character. He had the distinction of being made Prothonotary Apostolic by Pope Pius IX shortly after his ordination, which took place on April 15th, 1865. After a short stay at the Cathedral, he was appointed Chaplain of the Mother House at St. Elizabeth’s, a position which he filled for nine years. To St. Elizabeth’s he came when the alarms and ravages of war disturbed the peace of Europe robbing him of the repose and tranquillity which lie enjoyed after his retirement from the pastorate of St. Joseph’s, Jersey City, in 1901. He was a frequent visitor and lecturer at Seton Hall in his early years. At the end he left the scant remains of his private fortune to the college as. a fund for the support of poor students. He was called to his reward in March, 1927.

The Reverend James H. Corrigan was born in Newark on June 29th, 1844. Having completed his preparatory studies, he made his college course at Mt. St. Mary’s, Emmittsburg, Maryland, and then went to the American College in Rome. Returning to America, he was ordained in the chapel at Seton Hall College, on October 20th, 1867. He had been a professor at the college and Director of the seminary, and was appointed Vice-President in 1872. when his brother, Dr. M. A. Corrigan, became President. During his administration in 1876, Father Corrigan devoted his efforts to the organizing of an Alumni Association. His efforts met with considerable success, and he gathered about him clergymen, lawyers, physicians and merchants who had proved themselves worthy of their Alma Mater. After organization he proposed to the members the erection of Alumni Hall, the cornerstone of which was laid on October 28th, 1883. This building, of undressed brownstone, presents a solid and yet artistic appearance. It was originally used for recreational purposes. In 1923 it was completely equipped as a science building, with laboratories, demonstration and classrooms, at a cost of $22,654.41. During his administration the college celebrated its Silver Jubilee, which was signalized by a great gathering of the alumni. The program for the Commencement enumerates among the speakers the name of Charles Joseph Sharkey, who, together with the remaining graduates of the Class of ’81, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Eugene P. Carroll, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph H. Meehan, and the Rev. Edward A. Kelly, received the Degree of Doctor of Laws at the Diamond Jubilee Commencement this year. The address to the graduates on that occasion was delivered by the Rt. Rev. Bernard J. McQuaid. The jubilee dinner was transferred from the Commencement Day to July 14th, no doubt in order not to conflict with the retreats of the clergy, which then, as now, took place in the weeks following Commencement. Another reason may be that, according to the program for this dinner, there were twelve speeches. Among the speakers were the Most Rev. Archbishop Corrigan, the Rev. Januarius DeConcilio, the Rev. John J. Tighe; from the laity, Professor Theodore Blume, Dr. R. Dunkin Harris, the Hon. John V. Kernan, John R. Plunkett, a noted merchant, John L. C. Caruana and Dr. Daniel Eliott. Thirteen received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, a contrast to the seventy receiving it at the Diamond jubilee Commencement. The administration of Father Corrigan was marked by another blow to the developing college. On March 9th, 1886, during the dinner hour, the college building became a prey to the flames. Nothing daunted,

Alumni Hall was hastily turned into a living and study building, purposes which it served again after the fire of 1909. A peculiar feature of this fire was, that it was known in South Orange and Newark before anybody in the college suspected its existence. The driver of the lone horse car which in those days made a trip from the old car barns to the college every forty minutes, noted on his midday trip that smoke was issuing from the roof. With a wisdom that was uncanny, he judged that more time would be gained by driving his car rapidly to South Orange and giving the alarm than by going up to the college. Thus the Fire Departments of Newark and South Orange were on their way to the place before the dwellers of the college left their tables, still unaware of the condition that existed. Just as in the case of 1909, very little was saved, and the building, save for its walls, was a total loss. Immediately the Board of Trustees was called into session, on March 23rd, to appeal for funds for the restoration of the Hall. In January, 1887, the classrooms were ready for occupancy and in May, 1888, the dormitories were again occupied. On account of poor health, no doubt superinduced by the labors and worries of the fire, “Father James”, as he was familiarly called, resigned from the presidency. He died on November 27th, 1891, after a two years’ pastorate at St. Mary’s, Elizabeth, N. J. The influence of Father James Corrigan on the culture and training of the students left an impress which years have not defaced. Always courteous and condescending, to the youngest as well as to the oldest, ever watchful for their intellectual advancement, he was sincerely sympathetic with the students in the trials incidental to their youthful training. Father Corrigan was succeeded by the Rev. William F. Marshall, who at the time was Vice-President and Treasurer.