December 27, 1890: James McGolrick installed as Duluth’s first Bishop

On this day in Duluth in 1890, Father James McGolrick was consecrated as the first bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Duluth. McGolrick was born May 1, 1841 in Ireland’s County Tipperary. He was first ordained a priest in 1867 at All Hallow’s College in Dublin. That same year he immigrated to St. Paul and took a position as the assistant to Father Ireland, but was soon sent to West Minneapolis where he built a church and named it Church of the Immaculate Conception. He lead that church until he was sent to Duluth in 1889. In Duluth he was known for his work with Villa Scholastica (later the College and Monastery of St. Scholastica) and as being “a wonderful friend of children.” He gave $30,000 of his own money to build Cathedral School and helped establish St. Mary’s Hospital. The St. James Orphanage was considered by some to be his monumental work. Not only did he raise the funds to construct and operate the facility, he picked the building’s site himself. He also served his greater community as a member of the Library Board and the Parks Board. He could also be a controversial figure, writing editorial for local newspapers that claimed, for example, that Protestant influence of America’s public schools was ruining the nation. McGolrick died in Duluth on January 23, 1918 at 77 years of age. Read more about Bishop McGolrick here.

Reverend James McGolrick. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

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