May 8, 1870
After the death of Bishop John Thomas Mullock, O.S.F in March 1869, the Episcopal see of St John’s, Newfoundland, had remained vacant for more than a year.
The Irish Franciscans lobbied hard in Rome to continue their unbroken line as vicars apostolic and bishops of Newfoundland. Since the Roman Catholic Church was officially established in Newfoundland in 1784 only priests ordained for the order of St. Francis (Franciscans, O.S.F.) had lead the church in Newfoundland.
The attempts of the Franciscans were futile. Paul (Cardinal) Cullen, Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin was determined to see that Father Thomas J. Power a secular priest friend and protégé of his be elected Bishop of St. John’s. Power was named Bishop on this day 8 May 1870.
Cardinal Cullen’s influence was felt around the world in a carefully planned campaign to install Irish bishops. Cullen was able to influence the choice of appointments to Episcopal sees in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Newfoundland. The twelve Irish priests appointed to Australian sees in 1846-78 were all in some way Cullen’s men. InCanadahe was influential in having his friend (Bishop) George Conroy named as the first apostolic delegate toCanada. Cullen’s Irish men were a close network around the world.
Bishop Power of Newfoundlandwas consecrated bishop of St John’son 12 June, 1870 in Romeby the Irish cardinal. The next day the new bishop took his seat in the first Vatican Council, and on 18 July, 1870 voted for the dogma of the infallibility of the pope. After a brief visit to Dublin, Power arrived in Newfoundland on 9 September, 1870.
Shortly after the vote Cardinal Cullen urged the newly ordained Bishop Power to leave forNewfoundland because of the absence of Episcopal leadership in Newfoundland. In 1869, Newfoundland was referred to as the “orphan church” Bishop John Dalton of Harbour Grace had died in March and Bishop John Thomas Mullock of St. John’s had died in March leaving Newfoundland without a Roman Catholic bishop.
Recommended Reading: ‘Imperium in Imperio’: Irish Episcopal Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century* by Colin Barr , Ave Maria University, Naples, Florida