Friday, February 1, 2019

Right Reverend Alphonsus Glorieux, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise [otd 02/01]

Bishop Glorieux. H. T. French photo.
The first Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise, the Right Reverend Alphonsus Joseph Glorieux was born February 1, 1844, in Belgium. After college, he went to seminary at the American College at Louvain, just east of Brussels. He graduated from there in 1867, and was ordained and sent to Roseburg, Oregon.

After four years at various posts, Glorieux was appointed President of St. Michael's College in Portland, Oregon. Then, in 1884, Catholic authorities made him Vicar Apostolic of Idaho. The following spring, Glorieux traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, where he was consecrated as “Titular Bishop of Apollonia.” (Such designations are used to confer Bishopic status on the leader of an area where there is no formal diocese.)

Glorieux arrived in Boise in June, 1885. The new bishop had to stay in a private home, because the church had no suitable resident hall in the city. A few days later Glorieux headed off to visit every town and hamlet in the Territory.

The new Bishop found that the number of parishioners had dwindled to around 2,500, scattered among ten churches. There was only one Catholic school, and no hospital. The various flocks were served by just six clergymen and fourteen Sisters. A go-getter of epic dedication, Bishop Glorieux set out to change that. Before the year was out, he fostered a new church in Shoshone.

In 1886, he had a new structure built in Boise where he and other priests could live, and could accommodate visiting clergy. That same year, Glorieux dedicated two new churches. The following year, he had the Boise church enlarged and built the first Catholic church in Pocatello. No new structures went up in 1888, but the next year saw: a new parish hall and a school in Boise, plus new churches in Genesee and Bellevue. Even more came in 1890, with five new churches dedicated.

Early the following year, news reached Glorieux that his mother was seriously ill. Fearing the worst, she wanted to see her only son. Alphonsus Joseph rushed back to Belgium, but, sadly, his mother passed away several days before he got there. Afterwards, Glorieux visited Rome, where he had a private audience with the Pope. He then made a Grand European Tour before returning to Boise on October.

In 1892, Catholics built a larger school academy in Boise, three more churches around the state, a school in Pocatello, and a hospital in Wallace. In August 1893, in recognition of all that growth, Pope Leo XIII created the “Diocese of Boise,” with responsibility for the entire state of Idaho. He appointed Glorieux as its first Bishop.
St. Alphonsus Hospital. Library of Congress.
The Right Reverend did not rest on his laurels, however. For each of the next six years, he dedicated at least one or two, and once three, new churches around the state. Growth slowed somewhat in the new century, but did include construction of the St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise.

By 1914, when H. T. French published his History, Glorieux’s diocese included seventy churches, fourteen Catholic schools, and three hospitals. The number of clergy and Sisters had grown proportionately. At that time, services were being held in the basement of the new Cathedral of St. John being built in Boise.

Bishop Glorieux had laid the cornerstone for that structure in 1906 [blog, November 11]. Unfortunately, he died in August 1917, four year before the cathedral was completed and dedicated.
References: [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]

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