Samuel Alphonsus Stritch was born in
Nashville, Tenn., the seventh of eight children, to a poor Irish couple. The
parish priest helped his parents send him to the Cincinnati Seminary for two
years. He later completed his studies for the priesthood in Rome and was
ordained in 1910.
He was to distinguish himself as a capable
administrator and educator who did not forget his humble beginnings. This was
evident in his constant zeal for both charitable organizations and those that
could change society's structures to include all races, nations and
Appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee in 1930, he
was to become known as "the Bishop of the poor" when, during the
Great Depression, he refused to use collected monies to repair fire damage to
the St. John's Cathedral roof, but instead invested it and used the interest
for the poor until the crisis was over. He often said: "As long as there
are two pennies in one's hand, one belongs to the poor."
In the 1930s, he advised the Sisters of St.
Francis of Assisi to found a college to educate their Sisters to become
competent teachers. Mother Bartholomew Frederick took up the challenge and
founded St. Clare College, in 1937. In 1946, the Sisters renamed the college in
his honor. He accepted on the condition that some persons in need would always
be sponsored and educated at the college.
From 1939 to 1958, he served the Archdiocese
of Chicago, first as Archbishop and later as Cardinal. He set about improving
urban living conditions for poor people, introducing specialized services for
deaf and blind persons and founding the Peter Maurin House for alcoholics.
He helped create war relief services,
assisting immigrants of Poland, Italy and Hungary. He censured anti-Semitism
and decried persecution of the Jews. He worked against racism, establishing the
Catholic Interracial Council. He was praised by organized labor for his
supportive stand for working people.
Cardinal Stritch, an eloquent orator, is best
remembered for his gracious concern for each person and his great kindness and
intelligence, so well used on behalf of others.
(Adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia.)