On April 23, 1867, a funeral procession 3 miles long made its way to St. Joseph Cathedral. It bore the body of John Timon, first Catholic Bishop of Buffalo. Flags throughout the city were at half-staff and the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser commented that there had not been such a turnout since the remains of President Abraham Lincoln passed through Buffalo, estimating the crowd at 100,000.
The 70-year-old Timon died on April 16. The Buffalo Courier called Timon “a great and good man” and noted that his death “will be received with regret by people of all religious creeds in Buffalo.” The obituary in the Buffalo Morning Express noted: “Few will leave behind them so many grand monuments of charity.”
The funeral featured eight bishops and two archbishops. Archbishop Peter Kenrick of St. Louis told the congregation that, although Timon was dead, he still spoke to his flock in the cathedral that he built and where he would be laid to rest, as well as the hospital and numerous social service institutions he established.
Easter Sunday marks the 150th anniversary of Bishop Timon’s death. It is an opportunity to reflect on how his legacy of service continues to benefit the people of Western New York.
Timeline of Bishop Timon’s Life
- Born at the old Catholic settlement of Conewago in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, on 12 February 1797
- Grew up in Baltimore, working for the family dry goods business. The family moved several times, to Louisville, KY and finally to Saint Louis in 1819
- He determined to join the priesthood after a crisis which wiped out the family’s finances
- He came under the influence of Felix De Andreis, C.M. and decided to study for the priesthood at Saint Mary’s of the Barrens Seminary beginning in 1823
- Bishop Joseph Rosati ordained him to the priesthood on 23 September 1825
- Spent the early years of his priesthood in teaching at the seminary
- Served in missionary activity up and down the Mississippi River and in Texas, with Jean-Marie Odin, C.M.
- Appointed as the first provincial superior of the American province of the Congregation in 1835 (ten years after his ordination). Spent 12 years as provincial.
- Due to his abilities he was asked to manage the funds of the General Curia in Paris
- Ordained as the first bishop of Buffalo on 23 April 1847
- Instrumental in the foundation of St. Bonaventure University
- Died in Buffalo 16 April 1867
Sources: 1. Vincentian Heritage Journal Volume 22 | Issue 1 Article 4 by John E. Rybolt C.M. 2. Dennis Frank/Archivist, St. Bonaventure University
See also: information on plans for the 150th Anniversary of Bishop Timon’s death in 2017.
Originally posted on cmeast.org