Magazine article Pastoral Music

Come to the "Holy Land"

Magazine article Pastoral Music

Come to the "Holy Land"

Article excerpt

By 1807, the earliest Catholic settlers in Kentucky, gathered mostly around Bardstown, had been loosely organized by the first priest to remain in the area-Stephen Badin, who was also the first priest to be ordained in the United States-assisted by Father Charles Nerinckx and a community of Dominican friars, who came to Kentucky's Washington County in 1805.

But things changed suddenly for Kentucky Catholics in 1808, when Pope Pius VII created four new dioceses from the territory of America's primatial see, the Diocese of Baltimore. With the creation of the dioceses of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown-the first inland diocese in the nation-Baltimore became an archdiocese, and Catholic Kentucky had its first bishop. Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget arrived at Bardstown in 1811 to minister to Catholics in an area that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Allegheny Mountains to the Mississippi River. (More than forty dioceses and archdioceses would eventually arise in this region.)

Flaget set to work establishing new institutions and communities to serve as centers for Catholic life and ministry. St. Joseph Cathedral at Bardstown was the diocesan heart-the first cathedral in the United States built west of the Alleghenies, built with the help of the Protestant community, who felt that such a large church would add prestige to their town. Flaget also founded St. Thomas Seminary and approved the beginnings of a new religious community of women, the Sisters of Loretto (originally founded by Father Nerinckx as the "Friends of Mary," a teaching order). …

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