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Archbishops of Baltimore
Archbishop Francis P. Keough: Builder of a New Cathedral
Born in New Britain, Connecticut, on December 30, 1890, the future archbishop was the second and last son of Patrick and Margaret Keough. His Irish-born parents lost two daughters in early childhood, and his father himself died when Francis was only five years old.
Francis had an interest in the priesthood from a very early age. He entered St. Thomas' Seminary in Hartford after completing his primary education at St. Mary's parochial school in his native city. In 1911, he was sent to the Grand Seminary of St. Sulpice at Issy, France. Here, his advanced studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. Finishing his theological course at St. Bernard's Seminary, Rochester, he was ordained a priest at Hartford's Cathedral of St. Joseph by Bishop John J. Nilan on June 10, 1916.
Father Keough first served as an assistant priest for three years at St. Rose Parish in Meriden, Connecticut. Afterward, he became the private secretary of the bishop who had ordained him. At the same time, he was assistant chancellor, chaplain of two institutions, and diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
He became the fourth bishop of the diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, on May 22, 1934. His consecrator that day was the then recently-appointed Apostolic Delegate, Amleto Giovanni, who later became Cardinal Cicognani. The co-consecrators were Archbishop John G. Murray (1931-56) of St. Paul and Bishop James E. Cassidy (1934-51) of Fall River.
During his fourteen years at the head of one of the most Catholic dioceses in the United States, Bishop Keough achieved outstanding success in his youth work and in his Charity Fund Appeals. When he left Rhode Island, the Catholic population there had increased from 325,000 to 425,000, and the number of clergy had grown by fifty percent.
On November 29, 1947, six months after the death of Archbishop Curley, Francis P. Keough was named the eleventh archbishop of Baltimore, America's premier see. He was formally installed in the Basilica on February 24, 1948.
Between the time of his arrival in Baltimore and the completion of the Cathedral in 1959, the Catholic population of the Archdiocese increased by fifty percent! To meet the swelling strain on church facilities, the archbishop closely supervised the building of many churches, rectories, convents and schools. Responding to special needs, he constructed the Stella Maris Hospice for the Aged and Children's Village, as well as several large high schools and an archdiocesan center.
Despite one serious illness and the taxing urgency of a host of other problems, His Excellency managed to supervise closely the innumerable details of building the new Cathedral. The opening of this grand monument was above all due to the efforts of this modest and kindly churchman.
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