About Bishop Edward Dominic Fenwick


Born: August 19, 1786 in Maryland

Died: September 26, 1832 in Wooster, Ohio

Edward Fenwick entered the Dominican Order following his education in Belgium. As a professor at the Dominican College in Belgium, Fenwick was imprisoned to be sentenced to death during the French Revolution, but was later released based on his American citizenship.

In 1804, Fenwick returned to establish the Dominican Order in America. He and his Dominicans were sent to evangelize west of the Appalachian Mountains. After traveling the Mississippi River to find a headquarters for this missionary work, Fenwick settled in Kentucky where he established the first Catholic educational institution west of the Alleghenies (St. Rose Priory). Fenwick continued his mission throughout the regions of Kentucky and Ohio as he opened 8 churches in the developing area. He blessed the first church in Ohio in 1818 and built the first church in Cincinnati in 1819.

Edward Dominic Fenwick became the first bishop of Cincinnati in 1822. At this point in time, the diocese of Cincinnati consisted of the entire state of Ohio, reaching north into Michigan and parts of Wisconsin and travel was made by horseback. Following the appointment to Bishop, Fenwick went to Europe to raise funds for his new diocese. Upon his return to Cincinnati in 1826, Fenwick began the construction of the cathedral, the parochial school system, and founded the convents for the Sisters of Charity and Dominican nuns. In 1831 he opened what is now the Athenaeum of Ohio-Mount St. Mary Seminary, the third oldest seminary in the United States. It was also in 1831 that Bishop Fenwick established what is now the oldest diocesan newspaper in America, The Catholic Telegraph.

Bishop Fenwick, as the first Bishop of Cincinnati, established what is one of the most successful parochial school systems in America. It is fitting that many schools are named in his honor.