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John Joseph Keane



John Joseph Keane, (September 22, 1839 – June 22, 1918)  later  bishop of Richmond, was the first rector of Catholic University. Keane was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, to Hugh and Fannnie (Connolly) Keane.


He was one of five children, and the family immigrated to the United States when he was seven years old. He was educated at Saint Charles College, Ellicott City, Maryland, and at Saint Mary's Seminary, Baltimore.  he was ordained on  July 2, 1866. He served as a curate, for 12 years,  of St. Patrick's Church in D.C. While in DC, he  helped form the once powerful Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America and the Catholic Young Men's National Union in 1872, and the Carroll Society in 1873.


On March 28, 1878 Pope Leo XIII appointed Keane as the fifth Bishop of Richmond when Keane was 38 years old.  Irish-American  Bishops John Joseph Kain of Wheeling and Thomas Patrick Roger Foley of Chicago, were the principal co-consecrators.

Keane was known as "Sugar" due to his kind and generous nature.


Keane was appointed as the first rector of  The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., in 1886 while he continued as Bishop of Richmond. (He was relieved of his responsibilities in Richmond a year later so he could focus his attention on establishing the new school.)


However, Keane’s popularity faded in Rome due to his due to his outspoken support of the controversial Knights of Labor and the speedy Americanization of immigrants.  In 1896, the Pope requested Keane to step down as the schools director and moved to Canda and Rome.  He was sent back to DC in 1899 to raise funds for the Catholic University, which was facing bankruptcy. Afterward, in  1900 Pope Leo XIII moved him to Dubuque, Iowa.