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In his plans to improve services to all people, he became intensely set on helping the incoming French Canadians, Italians, Poles, and Portuguese to establish separate parishes for the benefit of these groups. His overall program was to erect many churches, schools, hospitals and charitable institutions and even a seminary. In order to staff these many institutions and carry out a good program, he invited many religious communities into his diocese. The invitations were accepted by the Sisters of Joseph when they established themselves in the Boston Diocese in 1873, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart on 1880, the Carmelite Sisters in 1890 and the Marist Fathers in 1883.

In the late 1800's the Catholics in New England were being severely harrased. Working in partnership with John Boyle O'Reilly, they established the diocesan newspaper--THE PILOT. Through this media, he counselled prudence in the part of the Catholics and also to mitigate these attacks. His task was difficult because of the many rising political leaders and vociferous journalists.

He founded the first conference of St. Vincent De Paul in 1868, a founder of American College in Rome, a participant in the Vatican Councils, very active in the Councils in Baltimore, and took a strong position with the Knights of Labor. He also established a Catholic layman's organization to provide participation in the affairs of the diocese. Archbishop Williams died on August 30, 1907, after 40 years of supervising this rapidly expanding diocese and archdiocese.

Who we are


John J. Williams was born to Irish immigrant parents, Michael and Ann (Egan) William on April 27, 1822, in the Dorchester section of Boston, Mass. He attended the area schools and while attending Boston's Cathedral High School, one of his teachers, Rev. James Fitton brought to the Bishop's attention this exceptional student. The bishop sent him to the Sulpician College in Montreal and

he continued his studies at the St. Sulpice Seminary in Paris. He was ordained by Archbishop Denis Auguste Offre on May 17, 1845.

Upon returning to Boston, his first assignment was as a curate in the Holy Cross Catherdral. After another short time as curate in another parish he returned to the Cathedral as rector in 1856. In 1857 he was appointed pastor of St. James Church and later in the year was appointed vicar-general of the diocese under Bishop J. B. Fitzpatrick.


After Bishop Fitzpatrick's death, he was consecrated as the fourth bishop of the Boston diocese on March 11, 1866, by Cardinal John McClosky of New York. In February, 1875, Boston was raised to a metropolitan see and Bishop Williams was appointed as its first Archbishop on May 2, 1875.



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