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Diocese of Lincoln
Suffragan of Dubuque, erected 2 August, 1887, to include that part of the State of Nebraska, U.S.A., south of the Platte River; area 23,844 square miles. There were about 17,000 Catholics in the section of Nebraska out of which the diocese was formed, organized in 27 parishes attended by 28 secular and 3 regular priests. Added to these were 38 missions with churches, 40 stations without churches, and 1 chapel. The Jesuits and Benedictines had representatives working among the clergy, and Benedictine Nuns and Sisters of the Holy Child took charge of the three schools established, in which about 290 children were enrolled. The Rev. Thomas Bonacum, rector of the Church of the Holy Name, St. Louis, Missouri, was appointed the first bishop, consecrated 30 November, 1887, and took formal possession of the see on 21 December following. He was born near Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland, 29 January, 1847, and emigrated in infancy with his parents to the United States settling at St. Louis. He studied at St. Vincent's College, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and at the University of W¸rzburg, Bavaria, after which he was ordained priest at St. Louis, 18 June, 1870. He attended the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore as theologian for Archbishop Kendrick, and was named by the fathers of that council as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Belleville which it was proposed to erect in Southern Illinois. The Sacred Congregation of Propaganda deferred action on the proposal of the Plenary Council, and in the meantime Father Bonacum was appointed to the Bishopric of Lincoln Nebraska, by Apostolic letters under date of 9 August, 1887.
Religious communities in the diocese - Men: Lazarists, Benedictines, Franciscans, Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Women: Sisters of Charity, Ursuline Sisters, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin, Sisters of St. Francis, Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Sisters of St. Benedict, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Sisters of Loretto, Sisters of St. Sisters of the Most Precious Blood, Bernardine Sisters, Felician Sisters. Priests, 77 (regulars, 11); churches, with resident priests, 64; missions with churches, 72 stations, 34; chapels, 5; academies for girls, 5; pupils 400; parish schools, 27; pupils, 2235; hospitals, 8; Orphanage, 1. Catholic population, 37,200.
Catholic Directory (Milwaukee, 1888-1910); Church Progress, and The Western Watchman (St. Louis), contemporary files; National Cycl. of Am. Biog. (New York, 1904).
THOMAS F. MEEHAN