Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BYRNE, Andrew, R. C. bishop, born in Navan, Ireland, in 1802 ; died in Little Rock, Ark., in 1862. He received his early education in the College of Navan. Meeting with Bishop England, who was seeking recruits for his diocese, he agreed to accompany him to the United States in 1820. Having finished his theological studies under that prelate's direction, he was ordained in 1827, and was at once sent on active duty to several stations in North and South Carolina. The long and fatiguing journeys that he was obliged to undertake, owing to the distance of Catholic families from one another, undermined his health, and he was recalled to Charleston in 1830. He was appointed vicar-general, and accompanied Bishop England to the council of Baltimore in 1833 as his theologian. He removed to New York in 1836, and was assistant pastor at the cathedral and afterward pastor of St. James's church. Archbishop Hughes sent him to Ireland in 1841 to endeavor to procure Christian brothers for the parochial schools of New York, in which he was unsuccessful. Shortly after his return he was appointed pastor of St. Andrew's church, which had originally been a building devoted to secular uses, but had been acquired for religious purposes by the labors of Father Byrne. The diocese of Little Rock, which comprised the state of Arkansas and the Cherokee and Choctaw nations, having been created in 1844, Father Byrne was appointed its first bishop, and immediately devoted himself to his Episcopal duties. He had sometimes to travel on his visitation from one mission to another from 700 to 1,000 miles. He next went to Ireland, and returned with a number of priests, nuns, and catechists for his diocese. A second visit to Ireland resulted in his procuring a colony of sisters of mercy, who established St. Mary's academy at Little Rock, one of the finest educational establishments in the west. He afterward founded four other convents of the order, and purchased a tract of land a mile square at Fort Smith, on which he intended building the College of St. Andrew and other institutions. He attended the first provincial council of New Orleans in 1856. Although in failing health, he continued his labors up to within a short time of his death. During his ministry the churches had increased from four to seventeen, with fifty stations, the priests from four to thirty, and the Catholic population from 5,000 to more than 50,000. His efforts to promote immigration were of great benefit to the southwest.
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