Most Reverend Bishop Michael J. Curley, D.D.
Fourth Bishop of St. Augustine
Bishop Curley was born at Golden Island, Athlone, Ireland, October12,1879. His early education was secured in his native isle, which is noted for her missionaries as much as for her heroes. At an early age he entered Mungret College, in the City of Limerick, and during his course of studies there, gave promise of a brilliant future. Next he entered the Royal University of Ireland from which he graduated with honors. Having pursued his studies in the Emerald Isle to the time of his graduation from the Royal University of Ireland he went to Rome to complete his education. He entered the Propaganda College at Rome and continued his studies that were to prepare him for the priesthood. He took his degrees at the Propaganda Unversity in Rome, graduating with high honors in canon laws, theology and sacred scripture.
On completing his collegiate course he was ordained a priest by the Vicar of Rome, in the Eternal City, during the summer of 1903. He lingered but a short time in Rome after his ordination, being anxious to enter upon the sterner duties of life, and he left the old world to take up his duties in his new field. He came direct to Florida and was assigned to the DeLand mission for a short period. He was transferred to St. Augustine, where he remained for a year, assisting the rector of the Cathedral here and familiarizing himself with the affairs of the diocese. Father Curley had the faculty for making friends, and before he returned to DeLand he numbered many of St. Augustine's citizens of all denominations in his list.
After a year in St. Augustine, he was again sent to DeLand where he remained until called upon to wear the mitre and wield the crozier. His mission at DeLand included New Smyrna and adjacent territory. He labored with splendid result in that field and became recognized as one of the most brilliant young priests in the South. When speculation was rife as to the successor of the lamented Bishop Kenny, Father Curley's name was not heard on the tongues of the laity, as the general opinion was that a man of advanced age would be chosen. The priests in whom was vested the recommendation of the bishop , however, were not at a loss to find the right man. The name of Father Curley was submitted according to custom, to the bishops of Baltimore province and they endorsed the choice. The seal of approval in Rome followed, and th news of Father Curley's appointment was flashed over the cable and was received through the diocese with rejoicing. Aside from his many qualifications that rendered him eminently fitted for the exalted position, is his pleasing personality. He is a man of great force of character and is in keen sympathy with every movement that will benefit his fellow-man.
In April, 1914, Father Curley received his appointment to the See of St. Augustine, the last priest to be elevated to the Episcopacy by the Holy Father, and was consecrated in the Cathedral of St. Augustine, June 30, 1914, (two months before Pope Pius died) by Rt. Rev. Benj. Kieley of Savannah, the officiating prelate.
Always a brilliant scholar, orator and hard worker, he was also an unassuming man and his appointment as Bishop was to him a most unexpected honor, and of all the clergy in the State, he was the most astounded when the appointment came. At the time of his consecration, Bishop Curley was the youngest man in the United States to have such high honors conferred on him, as he had not attained his 35th year.
There was variety in his episcopal life and more than an ordinary share of excitement. There was no even tenor for his pastoral administration. He had much to do in building churches, erecting schools, encouraging religious vocations, entering into enterprises which were conducive to civic welfare, building up friendships among Catholics and non-Catholics and fighting back without fear and with compromise against the anti-Catholic rulers of the State.
Bishop Curley was beloved by Catholics and non-Catholics and when his appointment as Archbishop of Baltimore came, there was a general rejoicing at the honor bestowed on the Beloved Prelate.
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