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Herman Joseph Alerding-1845-1907

On this Feast of Saint Nicholas, in 1924, Bishop Herman Joseph Alerding, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne, died of injuries he received in an automobile accident on Thanksgiving Day. Alerding’s History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes, written in 1883, stands, to date, as the only history of the diocese and archdiocese. There have been other attempts to write the history, but so far it has not happened.

Alerding was pastor of the original Saint Jospeh parish (now a local brewery) in Indianapolis, among others, before being raised to the episcopate.

Here is the Wikipedia entry for Bishop Alerding.

Herman Joseph Alerding
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Herman Joseph Alerding (April 13, 1845″‚ÄĚDecember 6, 1924) was a German-born clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Fort Wayne from 1900 until his death in 1924.

Herman Alerding was born in Westphalia and, during his infancy, came with his parents to the United States, where they settled in Newport, Kentucky. He received his early education at the parochial school of Corpus Christi Church. His local bishop, George Aloysius Carrell, did not accept him as a seminarian for the Diocese of Covington because he was unable to provide for his seminary expenses, and Alerding was instead accepted by Bishop Jacques-Maurice De Saint Palais of the Diocese of Vincennes. He attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Vincennes from 1858 until 1859, when the seminary was closed. He then studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Bardstown, Kentucky, for a year before returning to Indiana in 1860 and entering St. Meinrad Seminary in Spencer County. 1

After receiving the tonsure and minor orders in September 1865, Alerding was ordained to the subdiaconate on June 18, 1867, and to the diaconate on the following June 21. He was finally ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Saint Palais on September 22, 1868. He then served as a curate at St. Joseph Church in Terre Haute, while also attending to several missions throughout Parke and Sullivan Counties. From 1871 to 1874, he was pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Cambridge City. While at Cambridge City, Alerding calmed a turbulent congregation which had been under interdict for several months, liquidated the parish debt, and purchased a site for a new church.

He was transferred to St. Joseph Church in Indianapolis in 1874, there overseeing the construction of a church, rectory, and parochial school. He briefly served as procurator of the adjoining St. Joseph Seminary until it was closed the following year. In 1883, he published A History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes. He was stricken by typhoid fever and took a trip to Europe in 1884.

On August 30, 1900, Alerding was appointed the fourth Bishop of Fort Wayne by Pope Leo XIII. He received his episcopal consecration on the following November 30 from Archbishop William Henry Elder, with Bishops Denis O’Donaghue and Henry K. Moeller serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He presided over a diocesan synod in November 1903. His pew-rent policy was expressly opposed by Archbishop Diomede Falconio, the Apostolic Delegate to the United States. During World War I, he established the Fort Wayne Diocesan War Council.[3] In a pastoral letter issued in December 1918, Alerding declared, “We deserved the infliction of this terrible war and its awful consequences.” Under Alerding’s administration, the number of diocesan priests nearly doubled from 109 in 1900 to 210 in 1925. In 1900, the diocese had 102 churches with resident pastors, 39 mission churches, and 73 parochial schools; in 1924, there were 148 churches with resident pastors, 31 mission churches, and 106 parochial schools. 2

Historian Joseph White wrote:

Through the twenty-four years of Alerding’s leadership (1900-1924), the diocese’s Catholic population increased From an estimated 72,000 in 1900 to 162,586 in 1924. The diocese’s urban and multiethnic dimensions became more striking. While Catholic life progressed steadily among established communities large and small across the rural stretches of northern Indiana, but without the social transformation of massive immigration. 3

Alerding later died at age 79. He had been in critical condition since he was injured in an automobile accident the previous November. Read the Catholic News Service (back then the NCCW) Press Release of his death. You can view his gravesite, located in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne by going to the Find-A-Grave website.

  1. Alerding, Herman Joseph (1907). The Diocese of Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne: The Archer Printing Company.[]
  2. []
  3. Worthy of the Gospel of Christ: A History of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend[]

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