Lawrence Shehan

His Eminence
Lawrence Joseph Shehan
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore
See Baltimore
Appointed July 10, 1961 (coadjutor)
Installed December 8, 1961
Term ended April 2, 1974
Predecessor Francis Keough
Successor William Donald Borders
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of S. Clemente
Ordination December 23, 1922
by Giuseppe Palica
Consecration December 12, 1945
by Amleto Giovanni Cicognani
Created Cardinal February 22, 1965
by Paul VI
Rank Cardinal- Priest
Personal details
Born (1898-03-18)March 18, 1898
Baltimore, Maryland
Died August 26, 1984(1984-08-26) (aged 86)
Baltimore, Maryland
Buried Baltimore, Maryland
Previous post Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore-Washington (1945-53)
Bishop of Bridgeport (1953-61)
Coadjutor Archbishop of Baltimore (1961)
(All things in Love)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Lawrence Shehan
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Baltimore

Lawrence Joseph Shehan (March 18, 1898 – August 26, 1984) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Baltimore from 1961 to 1974, and was created a cardinal in 1965.

Early life and education

Lawrence Shehan was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Thomas Patrick and Anastasia Dames (née Schofield) Shehan.[1] His father operated a tailors' supply business.[2] He received his early education at local parochial schools in Baltimore.[2] In 1911, he began his studies for the priesthood at St. Charles College, a preparatory seminary in Ellicott City.[3]

After graduating from St. Charles, Shehan enrolled at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore in 1917.[4] He earned a Bachelor of Arts (1919) and a Master of Arts (1920) degree from St. Mary's.[1] In 1920, he was sent to continue his studies in Rome at the Pontifical North American College and the University of Propaganda.[3] He later received a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from the Propaganda in 1923.[1]


On December 23, 1922, Shehan was ordained a priest by Archbishop Giuseppe Palica at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.[5] Following his return to the United States, he was first assigned as a curate at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., a post which he held until 1941.[1] In addition to his pastoral duties, he served as assistant director (1929–36) and director (1936–45) of Catholic Charities in Washington.[3]

Shehan served as pastor of St. Patrick's Church from 1941 to 1945.[6] During his pastorate, he ended racial segregation at the parochial school in 1942 and hosted the Washington branch of the Catholic Interracial Council.[6] He was named a papal chamberlain in 1939, and raised to the rank of domestic prelate in 1945.[1]


Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore

On November 17, 1945, Shehan was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington and titular bishop of Lydda by Pope Pius XII.[5] He received his episcopal consecration on the following December 12 from Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, with Bishops Peter Leo Ireton and John Michael McNamara serving as co-consecrators.[5] He was named pastor of SS. Philip and James Church in Baltimore in 1946.[1] In 1947, when the Archdiocese of Washington was separated from Baltimore, Shehan was assigned to remain in Baltimore.[3] He served as vicar general of the archdiocese from 1948 to 1953.[3]

Bishop of Bridgeport

Shehan was appointed the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut on August 25, 1953.[5] His installation took place on December 2 of that year.[5] During his tenure in Bridgeport, he established eighteen new parishes, built twenty-four new churches, and founded three high schools.[7] He also formed a Catholic Youth Organization, promoted vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and began parish ministry for the increasing number of Hispanic, Portuguese, and Brazilian immigrants.[7] In October 1960, he convoked the first synod of Bridgeport to complete the initial organization of the diocese and to establish a uniform code of practice and discipline for the clergy.[7] A non-profit youth center in Bridgeport, CT is named after him (The Cardinal Shehan Center).

Archbishop of Baltimore

On July 10, 1961, Shehan returned to Baltimore as its Coadjutor Archbishop (with right of succession) and Titular Archbishop of Nicopolis ad Nestum. He succeeded Francis Patrick Keough as Archbishop of Baltimore on December 8 of that same year. In this position, he led the nation's first diocese and held precedence, but without the honorary title of primacy, over the Church in America. After the Supreme Court ruled to remove prayer from public schools in 1962, Shehan warned that "secularization threatens to become a sort of state religion established by court decree".[8] He was also a strong advocate of civil rights, banning segregation in all of Baltimore's Catholic institutions and walking in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.[9] He also maintained relations with Judaism and Eastern Orthodoxy.[9] Cardinal Shehan worked with his friend Harry Lee Doll, Episcopal Bishop of Maryland and President of the Maryland Council of Churches on both civil rights and ecumenical issues. Along with the President of St. Mary's Seminary and University, Cardinal Shehan and Bishop Doll in 1968 founded Baltimore's Ecumenical Institute, in the city's Roland Park neighborhood.[10]

Shehan attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965, and Pope Paul VI rather surprisingly[11] created him Cardinal-Priest of S. Clemente in the consistory of February 22, 1965. Along with Cardinal Jaime de Barros Câmara, he assisted Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens in delivering one of the closing messages of the Council on December 8, 1965.[12] Within the Roman Curia, Shehan held membership in the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity.[9]

He was in conflict with Fr. Gommar DePauw, a Baltimore priest and founder of a Traditionalist Catholic Movement.[13]

Considered a liberal in his positions, Shehan supported Fr. Charles Curran[14] and open housing, and condemned the Vietnam War.[15]

He celebrated an aboriginal Mass at the 1973 Eucharistic Congress in Melbourne.[16]

Later life and death

He resigned as Baltimore's archbishop on April 2, 1974, after twelve years of service. In a stroke of cruel luck, he was never able to participate in a papal conclavehe was the last cardinal to turn eighty prior to the August 1978 conclave, at which, by Pope Paul's decree, cardinals over eighty were excluded.

Shehan died in Baltimore at age 86, and is buried in the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  2. 1 2 "Lawrence Cardinal Shehan Dies; Retired Archbishop of Baltimore". The New York Times. 1984-08-27.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Miranda, Salvador. "SHEHAN, Lawrence Joseph (1898-1984)". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church.
  4. "His Eminence Lawrence Cardinal Shehan". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "Lawrence Joseph Cardinal Shehan". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  6. 1 2 "Our History". St. Patrick Catholic Church (Washington, DC).
  7. 1 2 3 "The Bishops of Bridgeport". Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport.
  8. TIME Magazine. On Second Thought... August 24, 1962
  9. 1 2 3 TIME Magazine. Milestones September 10, 1984
  11. TIME Magazine. 27 More Cardinals February 5, 1965
  12. Christus Rex. To Artists
  13. TIME Magazine. De Pauw's Departure January 28, 1966
  14. TIME Magazine. Time for Boy Scouts? April 28, 1967
  15. TIME Magazine. A Fighter Bows Out April 15, 1974
  16. TIME Magazine. "Spiritual Olympics" in Melbourne March 12, 1973

External links

Episcopal succession

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Bridgeport
Succeeded by
Walter William Curtis
Preceded by
Francis Patrick Keough
Archbishop of Baltimore
Succeeded by
William Donald Borders
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