Friday, February 27, 2009

Father Patrick Healy, SJ

Francis Patrick Healy was born on this day in 1834, in Macon, Georgia, the son of an Irish-American plantation owner and his wife, a black slave. His father would raise a family that would include three priests and three religious women.
Patrick's father wanted his children to be "free" rather than slaves, so he decided to send Patrick and his older brothers up North to be educated. They eventually enrolled at the Jesuit College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where all four young men converted to the Catholic faith of their father. After graduation, Patrick entered the Jesuits. When his race became an issue in those pre-Civil War years, he was sent to Europe to study. He became the first African-American to earn a doctorate at the University of Louvain in Belgium
In 1864, Patrick became the first African-American ordained a Jesuit priest.Two years later he returned to the United States where he taught philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
In 1874, Fr Healy became the first African-American to head a major university when he was named the 29th president of Georgetown University.
Fr Healy died on this same day in 1910is buried in the Jesuit cemetery on the university's grounds.
in 1875, Patrick's brother, James was named the bishop of Portland, Maine, becoming the first black Bishop of the United States. Another brother became rector of the cathedral in Boston.

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