Fonds - Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche fonds

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Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on ecclesiastical documentation in the fonds.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1915-1950 (Creation)
    Roche, Edward Patrick

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Physical description

12 m of textual records

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Biographical history

Edward Patrick Roche (1874-1950), Catholic bishop, was born in Placentia, Newfoundland, on 19 February 1874. He died in St. John's on 23 September 1950.

Roche was educated at St. Patrick's Hall and St. Bonaventure's, St. John's. He studied at All Hallows' Seminary, Dublin, and was ordained a priest (1897). After his return to Newfoundland, he was appointed parish priest of Topsail and Kelligrews (1897-1907). In 1907 he was named Chancellor and Vicar General of the Diocese, as well as Administrator of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. After Archbishop Michael Howley's death (Nov. 1914), Roche became Administrator of the archdiocese. He was appointed Archbishop of St. John's (Feb. 1915) and consecrated on 29 June 1915, the youngest archbishop in the British Empire.

As archbishop, Roche personally directed much of the Church's efforts in spiritual and secular spheres. As Metropolitan for the province of Newfoundland, he often spoke for the bishops of St. George's and Harbour Grace in educational matters. As Chairman of the Roman Catholic Board of Education for St. John's, he oversaw the construction of numerous school buildings in the archdiocese, especially during the years 1936-39. He was frequently outspoken on political issues, including opposition to confederation with Canada (1949).

Roche was intimately connected with ongoing renovations and repairs to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Following the destruction of the episcopal palace by fire, Roche personally supervised its reconstruction (1921-24). Archbishop Roche was also very supportive of the extension of health care services and facilities in Newfoundland. His desire to establish a Catholic hospital in St. John's was realized with the opening of St. Clare's Hospital, under the direction of the Sisters of Mercy (1922). He maintained close contact with the religious orders in the diocese, including the Christian Brothers, Sisters of Mercy and the Presentation Sisters. In 1915, he reorganized the convents, establishing central novitiates in the city. He was closely associated with Catholic lay organizations, especially the Knights of Columbus (est. 1909).

Roche's episcopate marked a professionalization of the Church in St. John's. While his predecessors had looked after almost every aspect of Church matters themselves, Roche established a machinery to aid him in ecclesiastical management. The two vicars general of his episcopate, Monsignors J.J. McDermott and W.F.H. Kitchin, were given extended responsibilities, as was the chancellor and personal secretary. In 1945 Monsignor T.J. Flynn, pastor of St. Patrick's, was appointed Coadjutor Bishop with right of succession and he administered certain aspects of the episcopacy, particularly education and confirmations. Following Flynn's death (1950), Patrick James Skinner, Rector of Holy Heart Seminary, Halifax, was appointed Auxiliary Bishop, succeeding Roche as Archbishop following his death.

While Roche's ill-health dogged him throughout his episcopacy (often requiring lengthy visits for treatment and rehabilitation in New York state), it appears that he remained firmly in control until his death at the age of 76. Following his death in 1950, Roche was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the last person to be interred there.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of the episcopal and personal records of Archbishop Roche, documenting all aspects of the involvement of the Roman Catholic Church in the political, economic, educational and cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador. The fonds has been arranged in 36 series, each with a detailed description, including biographical/administrative sketches when appropriate.

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Immediate source of acquisition


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  • English

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    A detailed finding aid available. Access to the file, and frequently, the item level.

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    Created - April 12, 2013

    Language of description

    • English

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