In an interesting coincidence, the anniversary of the arrival of Bishop Thomas Brennan, first Bishop of Dallas, falls within days of our celebrating the ordination of our two new bishops.
Bishop Brennan was not appointed until some six months after the Diocese of Dallas was erected by Pope Leo XIII on July 15, 1890. A priest of the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, he was consecrated there on April 5, 1891, and after a long journey by train and steamboat, he arrived in Dallas the evening of April 24, 1891.
Both Dallas newspapers took note of his arrival. The Dallas Times Herald carried a front page box on April 25: “Bishop Brennan, the new Catholic bishop of the diocese, arrived in Dallas last evening and was given a warm welcome by the Catholic clergy and laymen of the city. Bishop Brennan will begin work at once on the new cathedral and other institutions.”
On the next day the Dallas Morning News reported that the new bishop had arrived from Galveston on the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. The paper reported that among those greeting Bishop Brennan were Father Joseph Blum, pastor of Sacred Heart Church , Father Henry Brickley, pastor of St. Patrick Church and several prominent laymen including: “Messers James Moroney, T. F. McEnnis, Hugh Blekeney, Tom King and Michael Coerver. James Moroney was the great grandfather of James Moroney, who is publisher of the Dallas Morning News and Michael Coerver was the great grandfather of Monsignor Robert Coerver, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Rockwall.
Like today, it was a time of great growth for the Diocese of Dallas. During Bishop Brennan’s first year the number of priests increased by 11, four new religious communities were brought into the diocese and 12 new churches were built. This was accomplished despite an economic depression and heavy indebtedness inherited by the new diocese. The indebtedness undoubtedly was responsible for the bishop’s failure to build a cathedral. That would be accomplished 11 years later by his successor, Bishop Edward Joseph Dunne.
The Cathedral would finally be completed in 2007 with the addition of a steeple and bell tower thanks to another Moroney, James Moroney Jr., grandson of the James Moroney who greeted Bishop Brennan.
Shakespeare was correct when he penned that “what’s past is prologue.” (The Tempest)