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John Baptist Hogan
Better known, on account of his long sojourn in France, as Abbé Hogan, born near Ennis in County Clare, Ireland, 24 June, 1829; died at Saint-Sulpice, Paris, 29 September, 1901. His earlier years were spent ai Ireland, but an uncle, who was a priest in the Diocese of Périgueux in France, brought him to that country at the age of fifteen and placed him in the preparatory seminary of Bordeaux. To his early training in this institution where he soon evinced a more than ordinary talent and power of adaptation, was due the thorough mastery which he acquired of the French language, as also his perfect assimilation of the French spirit and ways, albeit without prejudice to his command of English, or to the qualities characteristic of a thoroughly Irish temperament.
Having completed his classical studies, he entered the theological seminary of Bordeaux, and, as at the end of his course he was too young to receive orders, he went, in 1849, to the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, where he followed a post-graduate course of theology for two years. Then, feeling called to the work of clerical education, he entered the "Solitude" or novitiate of the Sulpicians at Issy, and was ordained to the priesthood, 5 June, 1852. The following September, not having yet completed his twenty-third year, he was appointed to the chair of dogmatic theology in the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice, where from the outset he gave evidence of those rare qualities which constitute the teaching faculty, and made him so eminent as an instructor. During the ensuing years he was called, through force of circumstances, to teach successively various other branches of ecclesiastical science, but from 1863 to 1884 he occupied without interruption the chair of moral theology, adding thereto, during a period of thirteen years, the course of sacred liturgy.
After thirty-two years spent in teaching in Saint-Sulpice, he was sent in 1884 to the United States, having been appointed the first president of the newly erected theological seminary of Boston. After fulfilling the duties of this post for five years, he was transferred to the presidency of the graduate theological seminary connected with the Catholic University in Washington. This dignity he also held for five years, his teaching being confused almost exclusively to lectures on ascetic theology. He was then recalled (1894) to St. John's Seminary, Boston, and passed there the seven remaining years of his life as its president. At the end of the school year 1901 he was compelled, on account of rapidly declining health, to interrupt his labours for needed rest. Arrangements were made for him to spend the following winter at Hyères in the south of France but he died suddenly on his way thither, at the age of seventy-two.
Dr. Hogan, while hardly to be called a specialist in any branch, was a scholar of great erudition. He took a lively interest in all topics, whether pertaining to ecclesiastical or to secular science, and was conversant with the best literature bearing on subjects in these fields. He was endowed with that rare ability for imparting information to different mentalities which makes the ideal teacher, and as such his influence was widely felt and much appreciated, especially in France, where for so many years those who were to achieve the highest distinction among the secular clergy received the benefit of his intellectual guidance. His was a keen, versatile, analytic mind, characterized by breadth of view as well as penetration, and thoroughly alive to the difficulties connected with all theological and philosophical problems. His method was chiefly Socratic, free from dogmatism of tone, and he possessed in a rare degree the gift of being able to render interesting, at least to the more intelligent students, the discussion of even the driest and most abstruse questions. One who bad known him intimately for many years paid due tribute to his merits in an article in the "Homiletic Monthly", Dec., 1901, on Abbé Hogan's "Clerical Studies".
Though a scholar greatly gifted in the art of expounding, Dr. Hogan gave little attention to writing and publication. Except occasional articles contributed to periodicals, his only published works are "Clerical Studies", which first appeared in the "Ecclesiastical Review" (Philadelphia, 1891-95), and "Daily Thoughts". Both of these have been translated into French. In the former, which merits a place among the best clerical manuals, he covers the entire field of ecclesiastical science, treating each subject in his own original, suggestive manner, from the practical as well as the theoretical standpoint. The latter is a book of short meditations for the use of priests and seminarians.
The Am. Ecclesiastical Review (Philadelphia, Oct., 1901); The Messenger (New York, Oct., 1901); Catholic News (New York, Oct., 1901); Pilot (Boston, Oct., 1901); Tablet (London, Oct., 1901), files.
James F. Driscoll.