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Bishop Alerding dies (1924)

On this day (December 6) in 1924, Bishop Herman Joseph Alerding, bishop of Fort Wayne and author of the last complete history of the dioceses of Indianapolis (Vincennes) and Fort Wayne, died.

Herman Alerding was born in Westphalia and, during his infancy, came with his parents to the United States, where they settled in Newport, Kentucky. When he tried to enter the seminary, his bishop, George Aloysius Carrell, did not accept him because he was unable to provide for his seminary expenses. Instead, he was accepted by Bishop 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.

Alerding was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Saint Palais on September 22, 1868. He served 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’s 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.

Alerding died at age 79. He had been in critical condition since he was injured in an automobile accident the previous November.


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