Biography of Cardinal Dougherty
Cardinal Dennis Joseph Dougherty
August 16, 1865 - May 31, 1951
Dennis Joseph Dougherty was born on August 16, 1865 in Ashland, Pennsylvania. He was the sixth of 10 children born to a coal miner and a homemaker who had emigrated from County Mayo, Ireland. The young Dougherty was educated in public schools as there were no parochial schools in his small town.
In 1880, he passed the entrance examinations for St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. However he was considered too young and was sent to Montreal, Canada for two years. He returned two years later and entered St. Charles Seminary at the age of 16, skipping his first two years of training. Three years later, he was sent to Rome where he earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology Degree in 1890.
From the day of his ordination to the priesthood in1890 until he died sixty-one years later on May 31, 1951 (the anniversary of his ordination), this Prince of the Church worked toward providing every Catholic child with a Catholic education. He felt deprived of this education and was determined to foster Catholic education from the first grade through university.
In 1918, he was called upon to become the first native of the Philadelphia Archdiocese to serve as its Ordinary. During the thirty-three years of his episcopacy here, Cardinal Dougherty earned the title “The Great Builder.” Throughout the ten county Archdiocese he founded or built 110 parishes, 70 churches, 122 grammar schools, three colleges, nine diocesan high schools, fourteen academies, seven hospitals, seven orphanages, seven homes for the aged, and several institutions for various social services. There is no doubt that the lasting monument he left was Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.
It was a testament to his vision that when the world’s largest Catholic High School was built it would bear his name. Cardinal Dennis Joseph Dougherty would be pleased that in the first 50 years of its existence close to 45,000 students have received a Catholic education at Cardinal Dougherty High School.
Cardinal Dennis Joseph Dougherty is buried in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.