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1900 - 1949

 Noteworthy Events in the History of the Diocese
1900 - 1949
Adapted from Where the Star Came to Rest by Gaspar F. Ancona;
The Catholic Church in the Grand River Valley, 1833 – 1950 by the Rev. John W. McGee; and other sources.
April 16, 1903
Four Sisters of Mercy from Big Rapids arrive in Muskegon to establish what is today Mercy Health Muskegon.
September 8, 1909
Bishop Henry Joseph Richter opens St. Joseph Minor Seminary. It is located on Sheldon Blvd. south of the Cathedral of St. Andrew.
December 26, 1916
Bishop Henry Joseph Richter passes away as Saint Mary’s Hospital after becoming ill two days earlier. Co-Adjutor Bishop Michael James Gallagher, by right of succession, becomes Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
July 18, 1918
January 16, 1919
Bishop Edward Denis Kelly is appointed Bishop of Grand Rapids. He had been an Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Detroit.
June 11, 1919
Bishop Edward D. Kelly purchases the Winchell farm, southeast of the city of Grand Rapids, on the southeast corner of Burton S.E and Union Boulevard for the new location of St. Joseph Seminary.
September, 1923
Sacred Heart College is incorporated under state law. It is located on the Marywood campus, Motherhouse of the Dominicans Sisters, on East Fulton Street.
March 26, 1926
Bishop Edward Denis Kelly passes away at the Bishop's residence, 1225 Lake Dr., S.E., Grand Rapids, from a hemorrhage or embolism due to ulcers.
June 25, 1926
Most Reverend Joseph Gabriel Pinten, Bishop of Superior, Wisconsin, is appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
July 8, 1926 Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis-Matulevičius, Bishop Emeritus of Vilnius, Lithuania, during a visit to Grand Rapids, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a class of children at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Grand Rapids. Among the children who received the Sacrament was future Archbishop Charles Salatka. Archbishop Matulaitis was declared Blessed by Pope (now Saint) John Paul II, on June 28, 1987.
February 26, 1938
The Diocese of Saginaw is erected. It is made up of the eastern counties of the Diocese of Grand Rapids and some of the counties of the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Diocese of Grand Rapids is now comprised of 29 counties.
Catholic Junior College, which began as Novitiate Normal School of the Dominican Sisters, then Sacred Heart College, then Marywood College, becomes a four year college and is renamed Aquinas College.
November 1, 1940
Bishop Joseph Gabriel Pinten resigns as the Bishop of Grand Rapids.
December 14, 1940
Bishop Joseph Casimir Plagens, former Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit and previously Bishop of the Diocese of Sault Sainte Marie and Marquette, is appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
March 31, 1943
Bishop Joseph Casimir Plagens passes away from a heart condition in Saint Mary’s Hospital, Grand Rapids.
October 2, 1943
The Holy See announces that Msgr. Francis Joseph Haas, a priest of the Diocese of Milwaukee and dean of the School of Social Science at the Catholic University of America, is appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids. The day before, he resigned as chairman of President Roosevelt’s committee on Fair Employment Practice.
Spring, 1945
The Lowe Estate, consisting of 67 acres on Robinson Road, is purchased by the Dominican Sisters and becomes the present campus of Aquinas College. In the following years, other adjoining land is purchased to expand the campus.
November 6, 1945
Former Bishop of Grand Rapids Joseph Gabriel Pinten passes away in Marquette, Michigan.

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