Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FENWICK, Edward D., R. C. bishop, born in St. Mary's County, Maryland, in 1768; died in Wooster, Ohio, 26 September 1832. He was sent to the College of Bornheim, near Antwerp, Belgium, in his sixteenth year. On completing his collegiate course, he joined the Dominican order, and entered the ecclesiastical seminary of Bornheim as a theological student. After his ordination he was appointed professor and procurator of the Dominican College. On the invasion of Belgium by the French revolutionists, he was imprisoned and threatened with death, but, on proof of his American citizenship, was released and went to England, where he joined a convent of his order. Being anxious to introduce the Dominican order into the United States, he persuaded three members to accompany him on his return home. They were well received by Bishop Carroll, who suggested that they should devote themselves to the evangelization of the vast unexplored regions in the west.
In 1805, Father Fenwick traversed the entire valley of the Mississippi on a tour of observation with the view of finding a suitable centre for his missionary labors. He selected a farm in Kentucky, paid for it out of his private fortune, and in the spring of 1806 built on it the Dominican convent of St. Rose of Lima, which he made the headquarters of his mission in Kentucky and Ohio. In order to devote himself to the duties of his mission, he resigned the office of provincial, which he held in his order, and lived almost constantly on horseback, penetrating the states of Ohio and Kentucky in every direction, and thus laying the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church in the west. He built the first Church in Cincinnati in 1819, after previously founding eight other Churches, and in 1822 became first bishop of that diocese. He went to Europe in 1823 for pecuniary aid, and returned to Cincinnati in 1826 with ample resources. He at once began the erection of a cathedral, built parochial schools, and founded convents of the Sisters of Charity and of the Dominican nuns. In 1831 he opened the Athenaeum, afterward known as the College of St. Francis Xavier. He next went to visit the Indian tribes in the Northwestern territory. At Mackinaw he labored among them for three weeks, selected two to be trained for the priesthood, and sent them to Rome. The rest of his life was spent in missionary work among the Indians, and exhausting labors in every part of his vast diocese. While on one of his visitations he was attacked by cholera, which ended fatally after a few days.
His cousin, Benedict Joseph Fenwick, R. C. bishop, born in St. Mary's County, Mid., 3 September 1782; died in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1846, entered Georgetown College in 1793, and in 1805 became a student in the Theological seminary of St. Sulpice. He was ordained in 1808, and stationed at St. Peter's Church, New York City. While here he founded the New York literary institute, and also began St. Patrick's cathedral in Mulberry Street, from plans and designs of his own. He was appointed vicar general in 1816, and in 1817 became president of Georgetown College, and pastor of Trinity Church, Georgetown. In 1818 he went to Charlestown, at the request of his bishop, to compose dissensions that had sprung up among the French and the English-speaking Roman Catholics of that City. He was completely successful in his efforts, and remained as vicar general up to 1822, when he returned to Georgetown College, and was appointed procurator general of the Jesuits in the United States. In 1825 he was consecrated bishop of the diocese of Boston, which then embraced the whole of New England, and contained only four Churches.
He opened schools in the City of Boston, built in Charlestown the convent and academy of St. Benedict for young ladies, which became one of the first institutions of the kind in the country, and then undertook the task of making a visitation of his diocese. He traveled through every part of it in 1827, spending some weeks among the Passamaquoddy Indians of Maine, and the remnant of the Abnakis, organizing congregations and marking out sites for Churches. He procured funds from the Society for the propagation of the faith, with which he was enabled to provide missionaries and Churches for the Indians, and when he visited them again in 1831 he found them making rapid progress in civilization. About this time he had erected seventeen new Churches. In 1834 the convent of St. Benedict in Charlestown was attacked by a mob and burned during the night. The nuns, however, had been warned of the attack, and escaped without injury, in 1843, Bishop Fenwick founded the College of the Holy Cross, and placed it in charge of the Jesuits. At his death there were fifty Churches, an orphan asylum, and numerous Roman Catholic schools, Colleges, and academies in his diocese. When Bishop Fenwick was a young priest, he was sent for by Thomas Paine, who was then suffering from the illness of which he died, and afterward described the visit in an interesting letter to his brother, Rev. Enoch Fenwick.
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