Most Reverend William J. Dendinger

The youngest of six children, Bishop William J. Dendinger was born May 20, 1939, to Dave and Regina Dendinger and grew up on a farm in rural Coleridge, Nebraska, just north of Wayne. He graduated with the first graduating class of Mount Michael High School in Elkhorn in 1957.

Bishop Dendinger graduated from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo., with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy in 1961. He continued his education at Aquinas Institute in Dubuque, Iowa, and received his Master of Arts degree in theology in 1964.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 29, 1965, in the Omaha Archdiocese. In 1969, he received his Master of Science degree in counseling from Creighton University in Omaha.

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Most Reverend Lawrence J. McNamara

Biographical Notes

Birth through Pastoral Work

Bishop Lawrence J. McNamara of Grand Island, Nebraska was born in Chicago in 1928 and died on December 17, 2004. He was a graduate of Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota, and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he earned a degree in Theology. He was ordained in May, 1953 as a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri (now Kansas City-St. Joseph). Bishop McNamara held an honorary degree of Doctor of Law from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

Bishop McNamara held numerous Church and civic posts in the Kansas City area. He was a parish priest and high school teacher, Diocesan Refugee Resettlement Director, Chairman of the United Campaign Agency Executives Association, Chaplain of Jackson County Jail, President of the Kansas City Citizens' Alliance for the War on Poverty. He was also a board member of the Human Resources Commission of Kansas City, State Committee on Aging, and the Jackson County Civil Rights Commission and was Moderator of the Diocesan Family Life Bureau.

Known for His Work in Social Justice

Bishop McNamara was known for his work in reorganizing and enlarging the scope of the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. Under then Father McNamara's direction of the agency, between 1957 and 1969, its efforts expanded to include programs in job opportunity training, remedial and adult basic education, tutoring for children in both Catholic and public schools, medically related services, family enrichment and pre-Cana programs, services to the elderly and housing programs.

His agency sponsored the first Out of School Neighborhood Youth Corps Program in Kansas City. He also sponsored a community action program through the Office of Economic Opportunity to provide social work service to adolescent youth and teenage gangs, and a program for the training of unemployed adults.

Bishop McNamara was chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Charities Commission on Housing from 1969 to 1972. He was the Diocesan Director for Catholic Relief Services, the overseas aid agency of American Catholics. In the latter capacity, he was sent in 1970 on a visitation of CRS programs in west Africa. Bishop McNamara was appointed Executive Director of the Campaign for Human Development, United States Catholic Conference, in 1973 and served in that capacity for some five years.


Named by Pope Paul VI as Bishop of Grand Island, Nebraska, in January of 1978, he was ordained on March 28 of that year and has continued in that responsibility until his death.

Subsequent to his ordination as bishop, he has served as President of the National Council of Catholic Bishops' Committees for Liaison with Women Religious, The American Board of Catholic Missions, Campaign for Human Development and National Episcopal Advisor for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in the United States. In his later years, he served on the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services.

Most Reverend John J. Sullivan

John Joseph Sullivan was born in  Horton, Kansas on July 5, 1920. His family moved to Oklahoma City when he was 10.

He was ordained a priest on Sept. 23, 1944, for the Dioceses of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. He served parishes in Tulsa, Guthrie and Oklahoma City. While in Guthrie, he began recruiting college students to work as volunteers among the poor, starting a life-long history of involving lay people in church ministry and service to the poor.

In 1961, he went to work for the Catholic Church Extension Society, an organization dedicated to supporting mission work in poor areas within the Church.

In 1968, Bishop Victor Reed of Oklahoma City appointed him Episcopal Vicar for Eastern Oklahoma.

Pope Paul VI appointed him bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island on July 15, 1972. Bishop Sullivan's episcopal ordination took placein Tulsa, Okla., on Sept. 19, 1972. His installation as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island was held at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Grand Island on Sept. 21, 1972.

Priests of the Grand Island diocese who served under Bishop Sullivan called the leader a compassionate, pastoral man who had a vision for the diocese.

He was appointed bishop of Kansas City, Kan.,-St. Joseph, Mo., and took office there on Aug. 17, 1977 and served until his retirement on Sept. 9, 1993, due to the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease.

Bishop Sullivan died Feb. 11, 2001 at the Jeanne Jugan Center, a care facility run by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Kansas City, Mo.

Most Reverend John L. Paschang

[Reprinted from The West Nebraska Register April 2, 1999, Vol. 69. No. 13.]

Those who didn't know Bishop John L. Paschang were likely impressed with his longevity and distinction as the world's oldest bishop.

But those who knew him remember a kind, loving and generous man who had an unending devotion to his vocation, the people he served and, most importantly, his creator.

Bishop Paschang, 103, died Sunday, March 21, 1999, at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point, a town of 3,250 people in northeastern Nebraska.

The fourth bishop of the Grand Island diocese served from 1951 to 1972.

"What a wonderful man, priest and bishop he was," said Bishop Lawrence McNamara, who had headed the Grand Island diocese since 1978.

"I have vivid memories of his kindness, his compassion, his gentle concern for his priests and people," he said.

Bishop Paschang had held the honor of being the world's oldest bishop since June 1995-a fact verified in the Vatican yearbook, the Annuario.

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Most Reverend Edward J. Hunkeler

[Reprinted from The Nebraska Register Friday, October 9, 1970, Vol. 46, No. 41.]

Archbishop Edward J. Hunkeler, third Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island and retired Archbishop of Kansas City and Kansas died at Crookston, Minn., Thursday night, Oct. 1, two days after an accident about 10 miles west of Crookston in northwestern Minnesota.

Authorities said an autopsy showed that he died from a cardiovascular respiratory condition rather than from his injuries. The attending physician said the autopsy disclosed the injuries sustained in the accident were not serious.

He was riding with Msgr. A. I. Merth, 77, of East Grand Forks, Minn., after attending the installation of Bishop Kenneth Povich at Crookston.

The Minnesota Highway Patrol said Msgr. Merth apparently lost control of his car as he passed another vehicle and went into a ditch. Msgr. Merth was reported in good condition.

Funeral services for Archbishop Hunkeler were conducted in St. Peter's cathedral in Kansas City Monday, Oct. 5. bishop John L. Paschang, who succeeded Archbishop Hunkeler as Bishop of Grand Island, was one of the concelebrants of the funeral Mass.

A more complete story of the funeral will appear in next week's issue of the Nebraska Register.

Archbishop Hunkeler was Vicar General of the Omaha diocese when he was named to the Grand Island see on March 19, 1945.

He was consecrated May 1 of that year in St. Cecilia's Cathedral, Omaha, by the Most Rev. Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the United States.

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Most Reverend Stanislaus V. Bona

[Reprinted from The Nebraska Register Friday, Dec. 8, 1967, Vol. 43 No. 50.] 

The Diocese of Grand Island mourns the loss of its second Bishop, the Most Reverend Stanislaus V. Bona, Bishop of Green Bay, WI at the time of his death. Bishop Bona died Friday, Dec. 1, following a lengthy illness. Funeral services for Bishop Bona took placed in Green Bay, Wednesday, Dec. 6. Bishop John L. Paschang of Grand Island was one of the Bishops participating in the funeral ceremonies.

Bishop Bona was born in Chicago Oct. 1, 1888. He received primary education at St. Casmir's school, in the parish in which he was later pastor when named Bishop of Grand Island.

He graduated from St. Ignatius' college, Chicago in 1905, and attended the North American College in Rome, being ordained Nov. 1, 1912. On his return to the United States he was made assistant at St. Barbara's church in 1913, where he served three years.

He was then made resident chaplain of the Home of Correction, Chicago. From 1918 to 1922, he was a professor in the Quigley preparatory seminary of the Chicago Archdiocese and in 1921 made pastor of St. Casmir's parish.

Bishop Bona was consecrated in Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago Feb. 25, 1932, with His Eminence Cardinal George Mundelein of Chicago, the consecrator, and Bishop Paul Rhode of Green Bay and Bishop Francis Kelly of Winona the co-consecrators.

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Most Reverend James A. Duffy

[Reprinted from The Nebraska Register Friday, Feb. 16, 1968, Vol. 44, No. 8.]

Bishop James Albert Duffy, first Ordinary of the Diocese of Grand Island (originally Kearney), died in St. Joseph's infirmary in Hot Springs, Ark., Monday evening, Feb. 12.

At the time of his death, Bishop Duffy was the senior Bishop in the United States in both age and years of consecration.

Bishop Duffy, 94, is the second of the former Bishops of Grand Island to have died recently. Bishop Stanislaus V. Bona of Green Bay, Wis., the second Bishop of Grand Island, died Dec. 2, 1967. Bishop Duffy was one of a very few remaining Bishops in the entire world who had been appointed by the late Pope St. Pius X.

Funeral services for Bishop Duffy will be conducted in St. Mary's Cathedral in Grand Island Tuesday morning, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m.

Archbishop Gerald Bergan of Omaha, Archbishop Edward Hunkeler of Kansas City in Kansas, Bishop John L. Paschang of Grand Island, Bishop Glennon Flavin of Lincoln, and Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Sheehan of Omaha will concelebrate the Funeral Mass.

Burial will be in Calvary cemetery in Grand Island.

Bishop Duffy was born in St. Paul, Min., April 13, 1873, to James and Joanna (Shiely) Duffy. He received his education at St. Thomas college and St. Paul seminary, both in St. Paul.

He was ordained to the priesthood may 27, 1899. Following his ordination he served as assistant at Immaculate Conception parish in Minneapolis from 1899 to 1902, when he was made pastor of St. Anne's church, LeSueur, Minn.

He resigned as pastor of St. Anne's in 1904 for reasons of health and came to Wyoming, where he was named pastor of St. Mary's Cathedral in Cheyenne and Chancellor of the Cheyenne diocese.

In 1913 he was named the first Bishop of the Diocese of Kearney, Neb. (which had been established in 1912). He was consecrated in St. Mary's Cathedral in Cheyenne, April 16, 1913.

Archbishop J. J. Keane of Dubuque, Iowa, was the consecrator, assisted by Bishop Patrick McGovern of Cheyenne and Bishop Richard Scannell of Omaha as co-consecrators. Bishop Austin Dowling of Des Moines preached the sermon at the consecration.

In 1917 the seat of the diocese was transferred to Grand Island. During the years that Bishop Duffy served as head of the diocese, the beautiful St. Mary's Cathedral was built (1926-28) and consecrated by Cardinal Patrick Hayes of New York.

It was under Bishop Duffy that the Nebraska Register (now The West Nebraska Register) was established as the second of the diocesan editions of the Register system.

In May of 1931, ill health brought about the resignation of Bishop Duffy. The Holy Father named him Titular Bishop of Silando.

He continued to serve as Administrator of the diocese until the installation of the second Bishop of Grand Island, Bishop Stanislaus Bona, in March, 1932. Bishop Duffy then retired to St. Joseph's infirmary in Hot Springs, Ark., where he served as chaplain until 1964.