John McMullen, DD
|Denomination||Roman Catholic Church|
|Title||Bishop of Davenport|
|Period in office||June 14, 1881—July 4, 1883|
|Consecration||July 25, 1881|
|Priestly ordination||June 20, 1858|
|Date of birth||January 8, 1832|
|Place of birth||Ballynahinch, County Down, Ireland|
|Date of death||July 4, 1883 (aged 51)|
|Place of death||Davenport, Iowa|
John McMullen was born in Ballynahinch, County Down, Ireland to James and Alice McMullen. When he was a little more than a year old his family immigrated to Canada and eventually moved to Chicago. He did his classical studies at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Chicago. He studied for the priesthood at the College of the Propaganda and the Urban College in Rome where he was also awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree.
McMullen was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on June 20, 1858 for the Diocese of Chicago. He served the diocese, and later archdiocese, for 25 years. He was initially assigned as an assistant at St. Mary's Cathedral. During this time he helped to establish the House of the Good Shepherd, which cared for women who had been prostitutes, as well as orphanages for both boys and girls. From 1861-1866 he served as president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake, during which time new facilities were built for the school. Unfortunately, the school suffered from lack of finances and all but the seminary department was closed in 1866. He founded St. Louis and St. Paul's parishes in Chicago. McMullen accompanied Bishop James Duggan as one of his theologians to the Second Council of Baltimore. In 1868 he was sent to the Holy See to represent the interests of the priests of Chicago after Bishop Duggan's mental illness became evident. While pastor in Wilmington, Illinois he started a new parish in Braidwood.
He was named pastor of the Church of the Holy Name in Chicago and had just spent $19,000 on renovations when the Great Chicago Fire struck the city on October 8, 1871. Every structure McMullen had built in the city was destroyed. Once Father McMullen looked after his parishioners, he and other priests of the diocese traveled across the country and into Canada to raise funds to rebuild Chicago's churches, and to help the multitudes who were left homeless. He then built the present Holy Name Cathedral, which was consecrated on November 21, 1875. In 1877 he was named vicar general by Bishop Thomas Foley. After Bishop Foley's death he was named administrator of the diocese, and was renamed vicar general after the arrival of Archbishop Patrick Feehan.
On June 14, 1881, Father John McMullen was appointed the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Davenport. He was consecrated bishop by Archbishop Feehan on July 25, 1881 in Holy Name Cathedral. The principal co-consecrators were Bishops John Hennessy of Dubuque and John Lancaster Spalding of Peoria. He chose St. Margaret's Church in Davenport to be his new cathedral and with zeal set to work to establish the new diocese. In September 1882 he founded St. Ambrose, a seminary and school of commerce, for young men. His health soon failed, however. To try and find relief from his sufferings he attempted a trip to Rome, but only made it as far as New York. He also traveled to California where he fell gravely ill. A couple of months after his return to Davenport he died from stomach cancer after serving the diocese for a little less than two years.
He was initially buried in the crypt of St. Margaret's Cathedral and then his body was transferred to the crypt of Sacred Heart Cathedral after it was built. Finally, he and the other bishops who had been buried in the crypt were transferred to the Bishop's Circle of Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Davenport.
Both Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago and Saint Ambrose University in Davenport stand as monuments to his zeal. McMullen Hall, a classroom building at St. Ambrose, was named in his honor.