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Fr. Joseph Strub, C.S.Sp.
Born 1833
Alsace, Kingdom of France
Died January 27, 1890 (aged 57)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Occupation Roman Catholic priest
Known for Founding Duquesne University

Father Joseph Strub, C.S.Sp. (1833 in Alsace – 27 January 1890 in Pittsburgh) was the founder of what is today Duquesne University, which was called the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost until 1911.


Missionary work and distinction in Europe

Joseph Strub was born in Alsace-Lorraine in 1833;[1] while studying to become a Holy Ghost Father, he was given permission to do missionary work in West Africa.[1] He worked there from 1857 to 1863, being ordained a priest in 1858. He became the Vicar General to Mgr. Kobes, the Vice Superior of Dahar, and subsequently the provincial superior at Marienthal and Marienstadt in Germany.[1] He was Chaplain General of the French prisoners at Mainz during the Franco-Prussian War, and became an intimate friend of Marshal Patrice de Mac-Mahon.[1] He was rewarded for his services by the French government with the Cross of the Legion of Honor.[1]

Expulsion from Germany

Strub and his order were expelled from Germany during Otto von Bismarck's Kulturkampf in 1872. Father Strub and five priests moved to Ohio, but relocated a few years later after hearing of a demand for German priests in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[2]

In April 1874, Bishop Michael Domenec assigned Father Strub to St. Mary's Church in Sharpsburg, hoping that the parish could serve as a place to open a school for Catholic men.[2] Three attempts to open a college in Pittsburgh had already failed; Father Strub was reluctant, but he accepted the order hoping the establishment could serve as a scholasticate for the Holy Ghost Fathers (despite the Congregation's desire that all Holy Ghost fathers be educated in France).[2] However, the establishment of the college was delayed for two years by complications surrounding the Holy See's creation of a Diocese of Allegheny, as Bishop John Tuigg became the new bishop of Pittsburgh.[3]

A statue of Fr. Strub outside the Old Main administration building at Duquesne University.

Opening a college

Finally, in 1878, Bishop Tuigg gave Father Strub permission to open a college in Pittsburgh, though he allocated no resources towards its foundation: no building, land, nor money was available.[4] All Tuigg promised was a recommendation to the parishes of the diocese. Father Strub also wrote the Superior General in Paris for personnel, writing, "Be careful to send no one without English. You have no idea how useful the English language is here. I might even say necessary!"[4] Despite a dispute concerning the choice of Irish Spiritan Father William Power as the new college's rector (Strub believed an Irishman would not be viewed as hard-working as a German in Pittsburgh),[4] the second and third floors of a bakery were leased on the corner of Wylie Avenue and Federal Street in downtown Pittsburgh as a temporary location for the college.[4]

Strub and his fellow Spiritans established the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost on 1 October 1878, a month behind schedule.[5] Bishop Tuigg did not provide the support he had promised, having learned that the interim rector while Power arrived was a German priest: only 40 students constituted the first class.[5] In order to avoid provoking the bishop further, Father Strub left for Arkansas, only two weeks after establishing the Pittsburgh Catholic College, hoping to bring the Spiritan influence to that state.[5]

Mission in Arkansas

Having heard Little Rock Bishop Edward Fitzgerald's call for more Roman Catholic clergy in Arkansas, Strub visited the state and wrote Bishop Fitzgerald obtaining permission to found St. Joseph Colony in Conway.[6] The Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad granted the mission several hundred thousand acres of land from Marche and Atkins.[6] In January 1879, Strub moved the mission to Morrilton, since the location was more central. In 1880, Strub wrote The Leitstern, or The Guiding Star for the St. Joseph Colony, a German-language pamphlet that encouraged immigrants to settle in the colony. By 1889, ninety-five Catholic families had settled near Morrilton.[6] A drought in the mid-1880s stymied immigration, but the mission persisted. However, the Holy Ghost Fathers's novitiate moved to Pittsburgh in 1884, and the school and church in Morrilton were destroyed by a tornado in 1892.[6] Strub died in Pittsburgh on 27 January 1890.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Very Rev. Joseph Strub". Obituary (The New York Times). 28 January 1890. Retrieved 2008-01-30.  
  2. ^ a b c Rishel 1997, 1.
  3. ^ Rishel 1997, 1-2.
  4. ^ a b c d Rishel 1997, 2.
  5. ^ a b c Rishel 1997, 3.
  6. ^ a b c d Metrailer, Jamie (2007-09-27). "St. Joseph Colony". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. The Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved 2008-01-30.  
  7. ^ "Reverend Father Strub, (sculpture).". Art Inventory Catalog. Smithsonian Institution.!321085!0. Retrieved 2008-01-30.  




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