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Right Rev. Theophile Meerschaert
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Senior posting
See Oklahoma
Title Bishop of Oklahoma
Period in office June 2, 1891—February 21, 1924
Consecration September 8, 1891
Predecessor Ignatius Jean, O.S.B.
Successor Francis Kelley
Religious career
Priestly ordination December 23, 1871
Personal
Date of birth August 24, 1847(1847-08-24)
Place of birth Russignies, East Flanders, Belgium
Date of death February 21, 1924 (aged 76)
Place of death Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Theophile Meerschaert (August 24, 1847—February 21, 1924) was a Belgian-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Oklahoma in the United States from 1891 until his death in 1924.

Biography

The eighth of nine children,[1] Theophile Meerschaert was born in Russignies, near Renaix, in East Flanders.[2] After studying at the College of Renaix (1859-1864) and the College of Audenarde (1864-1868),[2] he entered the American College of Louvain in 1868, having been moved by word of the needs and opportunities in the American missions.[3] He was ordained to the priesthood on December 23, 1871.[4]

He left for the United States in September 1872, arriving at Natchez, Mississippi in the following October.[2] For the next 19 years he labored among the difficult circumstances of the Southern Reconstruction. He was appointed to Hancock and Harrison Counties in November 1872, and transferred to Ocean Springs in August 1874.[2] In October 1875, Meerschaert was felled by yellow fever and his case thought hopeless, but he eventually recovered.[3] He worked in Bay St. Louis for a year before returning to Natchez in August 1880. He became vicar general of the Diocese of Natchez on April 18, 1887, and later apostolic administrator (1888-1889) after Bishop Francis Janssens was promoted to Archbishop of New Orleans in 1888.[2] He also served as rector of St. Mary's Cathedral.[1]

On June 2, 1891, Meerschaert was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Indian Territory in Oklahoma and Titular Bishop of Sidyma by Pope Leo XIII.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 8 from Archbishop Janssens, with Bishops Edward Fitzgerald and Thomas Heslin serving as co-consecrators, at St. Mary's Cathedral.[4] En route to his new assignment, he celebrated the first Pontifical High Mass in Oklahoma Territory on September 20, 1891, at Guthrie.[2] At the time of his arrival, the vicariate had three diocesan priests, there were 23 Benedictine monks, 21 churches, seven day schools, five Indian boarding schools, one college, one monastery, six convents and about 5,000 Catholics.[3] By the time of his death, the Church in Oklahoma had an eleven fold increase in Catholics, and churches and schools multiplied by some seven and five times respectively.[3] Meerschaert also dedicated about 100 new churches and recruited around a dozen American-born clergy during his tenure.[3] He was named the first Bishop of Oklahoma on August 23, 1905, when Pope Pius X raised the vicariate to the rank of a diocese.[4]

Meerschaert later died at St. Anthony's Hospital in Oklahoma City, aged 76.[2] At first buried at Fairlawn Cemetery, his remains were later transferred to the Bishops' Vault at Resurrection Cemetery.[1]

References

Preceded by
Igantius Jean, O.S.B.
Bishop of Oklahoma
1891—1924
Succeeded by
Francis Kelley
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Theophile Meerschaert †
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Senior posting
See Oklahoma
Title Bishop of Oklahoma
Period in office June 2, 1891—February 21, 1924
Consecration September 8, 1891
Predecessor Ignatius Jean, O.S.B.
Successor Francis Kelley
Religious career
Priestly ordination December 23, 1871
Personal
Date of birth August 24, 1847(1847-08-24)
Place of birth Russignies, East Flanders, Belgium
Date of death February 21, 1924 (aged 76)
Place of death Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Theophile Meerschaert (August 24, 1847—February 21, 1924) was a Belgian-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Oklahoma in the United States from 1891 until his death in 1924.

Biography

Styles of
Template:Safesubst:PAGENAME
File:Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Monsignor
Posthumous style none

The eighth of nine children,[1] Theophile Meerschaert was born in Russignies, near Renaix, in East Flanders.[2] After studying at the College of Renaix (1859–1864) and the College of Audenarde (1864–1868),[2] he entered the American College of Louvain in 1868, having been moved by word of the needs and opportunities in the American missions.[3] He was ordained to the priesthood on December 23, 1871.[4]

He left for the United States in September 1872, arriving at Natchez, Mississippi in the following October.[2] For the next 19 years he labored among the difficult circumstances of the Southern Reconstruction. He was appointed to Hancock and Harrison Counties in November 1872, and transferred to Ocean Springs in August 1874.[2] In October 1875, Meerschaert was felled by yellow fever and his case thought hopeless, but he eventually recovered.[3] He worked in Bay St. Louis for a year before returning to Natchez in August 1880. He became vicar general of the Diocese of Natchez on April 18, 1887, and later apostolic administrator (1888–1889) after Bishop Francis Janssens was promoted to Archbishop of New Orleans in 1888.[2] He also served as rector of St. Mary's Cathedral.[1]

On June 2, 1891, Meerschaert was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Indian Territory in Oklahoma and Titular Bishop of Sidyma by Pope Leo XIII.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 8 from Archbishop Janssens, with Bishops Edward Fitzgerald and Thomas Heslin serving as co-consecrators, at St. Mary's Cathedral.[4] En route to his new assignment, he celebrated the first Pontifical High Mass in Oklahoma Territory on September 20, 1891, at Guthrie.[2] At the time of his arrival, the vicariate had three diocesan priests, there were 23 Benedictine monks, 21 churches, seven day schools, five Indian boarding schools, one college, one monastery, six convents and about 5,000 Catholics.[3] By the time of his death, the Church in Oklahoma had an eleven fold increase in Catholics, and churches and schools multiplied by some seven and five times respectively.[3] Meerschaert also dedicated about 100 new churches and recruited around a dozen American-born clergy during his tenure.[3] He was named the first Bishop of Oklahoma on August 23, 1905, when Pope Pius X raised the vicariate to the rank of a diocese.[4]

Meerschaert later died at St. Anthony's Hospital in Oklahoma City, aged 76.[2] At first buried at Fairlawn Cemetery, his remains were later transferred to the Bishops' Vault at Resurrection Cemetery.[1]

References

Preceded by
Igantius Jean, O.S.B.
Vicar Apostolic of Indian Territory
1891—1905
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none (diocese erected)
Bishop of Oklahoma
1905—1924
Succeeded by
Francis Kelley

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