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SHANAHAN, JEREMIAH FRANCIS, D. D., first bishop of Harrisburg, Pa., was born at Silver Lake, Susquehanna county, Pa., July 13, 1834, son of John and Margaret (Donovan) Shanahan, both natives of Cork county Ireland. His early Catholic education and training were scrupulously attended to by his pious parents, who also provided for him a liberal course in the best schools. For three years he attended an ordinary school at Silver Lake, from which he went to St. Joseph's Academy, near Binghampton, N. Y., and was graduated therefrom with honor at eighteen years of age. His classical, philosophical and theological courses were completed at the Theological Seminary of St. Charles Borromeo, at Philadelphia. His ordination to the priesthood, by Bishop Neumann, took place July 3, 1859, after which he was appointed by the bishop, rector of the new Preparatory Seminary at Glen Riddle, Deleware [sic] county, Pa., and for nine years discharged the duties of the place with rare ability and gratifying success.

When the new diocese of Harrisburg was constituted in 1868, Father Shanahan was appointed its bishop. His consecration took place July 12, 1868, at the cathedral in Philadelphia. His installation took place on September 20, of the same year, at St. Patrick's, in Harrisburg, which then became the pro-cathedral. Here abundant and difficult labors awaited the young bishop. His flock was sparsely scattered through eighteen counties, and were only partly supplied with under shepherds, each priest having a triple charge. All church activities were to be organized and set in motion. The good bishop was equal to the demands of the situation, and the wonderful enlargement and prosperity of the diocese demonstrated his ability, faithfulness and consecration.

But the physical strength of Bishop Shanahan proved inadequate to the strain of labor so constant and consuming, and his health gave way. He lived and labored long enough to organize the diocese, to plant schools and build churches, to win the admiration and affection of his people, and to gain the confidence and esteem of the entire community. He was called to his rest and reward September 24, 1886; and a handsome and enduring monument, erected by his grateful and loving parishioners, marks his resting place in the beautiful grounds of St. Patrick's pro-cathedral.

This eminent servant of God has a worthy successor in the bishoprick [sic] in the person of Archbishop Thomas McGovern, who found a happy and prosperous charge, and who is successfully continuing and extending the work so auspiciously begun by the first bishop.

Historical Review of Dauphin County

Transcribed by Becky Tuszynski for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project -

Date of Transcription: 18 June 2001

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