The Right Reverend Richard Pius Miles, O.P., D.D.
(5/17/1791 – 2/17/1860)
First Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (9/-/1816)
Served as Bishop of Nashville: (9/16/1838 – 2/17/1860)
Most Reverend Richard Pius Miles was born in Prince George’s County, Maryland. He was ordained priest in September, 1816 and entered a long career of missionary labor in Ohio and Kentucky. He founded a community of Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic. The Fathers of the Third Council of Baltimore recommended the erection of Tennessee into a separate diocese, and proposed Father Miles for the first Bishop of Nashville. He was consecrated in the Cathedral of Bardstown, September 16, 1838. His accomplishments include the dedication of Our Lady of the Seven Dolors, a rectory, a hospital and the ordination of the first priest in Tennessee.
The Right Reverend James Whelan, O.P., D.D.
(6/8/1823 – 2/18/1878)
Second Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (8/2/1846)
Time as Bishop: (5/8/1860 – 1863)
Most Reverend James Whelan was born in Kilkenny, Ireland. In his youth, he was remarkable for his great love of solitude and extraordinary application to books. On May 8, 1859 he became Bishop of Nashville. As a border state, Tennessee was torn and distracted for four long years by the almost constant occupation of contending armies, some of the most severe battles of the Civil War were fought on its soil. Bishop Whelan obtained leave to resign the episcopate in 1864, and return to the quiet and seclusion of a convent of his order From that time till his death he lived among his religious brethren, devoting his time to theological, historical, and chemical studies, some of the fruits of which are manifested in contributions to the periodical literature of the time.
The Right Reverend Patrick Augustine Feehan, D.D.
(8/29/1829 – 7/12/1902)
Third Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: 1852
Time as Bishop: (11/1/1865 – 9/10/1880)
Most Reverend Patrick Augustine Feehan was born in County Tipperary, Ireland. He acquired a reputation as a devoted priest, able in the pulpit. He was elected to fill the vacancy from Bishop Whelan’s resignation on July 7, 1865. He was consecrated on November 1, 1865, and proceeded to the State of Tennessee to become the third bishop of Nashville. Tennessee had suffered from the war, but Bishop Feehan applied himself to the task and under his guidance the Diocese advanced as it never had before. During his incumbency the Diocese was visited by the terrible yellow fever and he lost nine priests and thirteen sisters to this dreaded disease, among them his vicar-general. On September 10, 1880, Bishop Feehan was promoted to the newly-erected Archepiscopal throne of Chicago. Under his guidance the Archdiocese continued its growth by rapid strides until the time of his death.
The Right Reverend Joseph Rademacher, D.D.
(12/3/1840 – 1/12/1900)
Fourth Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (8/2/1863)
Time as Bishop: (6/24/1883 – 7/13/1893)
Most Reverend Joseph Rademacher was born at Westphalia, Michigan. At an early age, he was placed in St. Vincent’s College, under the care of the Benedictine Fathers in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He entered the diocesan seminary of St. Michael’s in Pittsburg, and was ordained to the priesthood on August 2, 1863 for the diocese of Fort Wayne. In all of his positions, he acquitted himself as a priest of ability, devoted to his flock, earnest, pious, and devoted to the education of the young. He was appointed Bishop of Nashville on the April 21, 1883 and was consecrated on June 24. He labored in Tennessee until July 13, 1893, when he was transferred to the Diocese of Fort Wayne.
The Right Reverend Thomas Sebastian Byrne, D.D.
Fifth Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (5/22/1869)
Time as Bishop: (7/25/1894 – 9/4/1923)
Most Reverend Thomas Sebastian Byrne was born in Hamilton, Ohio. He was called, on May 10, 1894, to the vacant See of Nashville. He was consecrated the Fifth Bishop of Nashville on July 25, 1894. His faithful and tireless energy soon wrought marked improvements in the diocese. Debts were paid, new priests were attracted to the work and a building program inaugurated. The new Cathedral with its school and rectory were constructed. New parishes were opened and many charitable and educational institutions founded. One notable work was providing each parish, where there was a resident priest, with a school. He purchased property adjacent to the Cathedral and gathered a considerable fund to be used in constructing a school for boys. Bishop Byrne was a noted author and translator and had gained just fame throughout the country for his work, in addition, he was a gentleman, a scholar, a good and holy man.
The Most Reverend Alphonse John Smith, D.D., S.T.D.
(11/14/1924 – 12/16/1935)
Sixth Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (4/18/1908)
Time as Bishop: (3/25/1924 – 12/16/1935)
Most Reverend Alphonse John Smith was born in Madison, Indiana. He was ordained a priest April 18, 1908. He was appointed Bishop of Nashville in December, 1923, and was consecrated at the Cathedral of Indianapolis, March 25, 1924. He was, above all, a deeply religious and an untiring worker. One of the first and greatest things Bishop Smith did for the Diocese was to build up of the native clergy. When he came to the Diocese he found only a few native priests and ten seminarians. Within two years, he had 60 seminarians from Tennessee. Twenty-six priests were ordained for the diocese during his administration. The following churches and institutions were built or started under his administration: In Nashville: Father Ryan High School, St. Vincent’s Church and School, Chancery Office and St. Mary’s Rectory, additions to St. Thomas Hospital and Holy Name School; in Memphis: St. Agnes College, Sacred Heart High School, Monastery of the Poor Clares, Catholic Club; in Knoxville: St. Mary’s Hospital and Villa Marie, Knoxville Catholic High School, Holy Ghost Church; in Chattanooga: new Notre Dame School; in Johnson City: new St. Mary’s Church; new chapels at Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Elizabethton, South Pittsburg and Paris.
The Most Reverend William Lawrence Adrian, D.D., S.T.L.
(4/16/1883 – 2/13/1972)
Seventh Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (4/15/1911)
Time as Bishop: (5/6/1936 – 1969)
Most Reverend William Lawrence Adrian was born in Sigourney, Iowa. He was sent to the American College, Rome and was ordained there April 15, 1911. He returned to his native Diocese and served on the faculty of St. Ambrose College for twenty-four years in various positions. In 1935, he became Pastor of St. Bridget’s Church, Victor, Iowa, and it was there he received his appointment as Bishop of Nashville, February 2, 1936. He was consecrated on April 16, 1936. He was known as a “man who gets things done.” His accomplishments include: the opening of new parishes in Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis; the building of the new churches St. Anne’s and Immaculate Conception, Memphis, and St. Lawrence, Paradise Ridge; the acquisition of a new Episcopal Residence in East Nashville; the remodeling of the Cathedral, and the redecorating of many other churches; the holding of a Synod and the reorganization of the Curia; the establishment of a diocesan newspaper and the National Council of Catholic Women.
The Most Reverend Joseph Aloysius Durick, D.D.
(10/13/1914 – 6/26/1994)
Eighth Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (3/23/1940)
Time as Bishop: (9/10/1969 – 1975)
The Most Reverend Joseph Aloysius Durick, the eighth bishop of Nashville, was the first native-born Tennessean to lead the diocese. A native of Dayton, Tenn., Bishop Durick served as a priest in Alabama before he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Toolen of Mobile in 1954. He was installed as Coadjutor Bishop of Nashville in 1964, and as Bishop of Nashville in 1969. Bishop Durick was a leader in the civil rights movement, serving as Chairman of the Board of Project Equality of Tennessee, Inc., and as a member of the Tennessee State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and in prison ministry. Bishop Durick inaugurated the first Priests’ Convention at which all of the Tennessee priests gathered and, through their own committees, formed clerical guidelines. He promoted a Priests’ Senate and a Priests’ Personnel Board for the diocese and Priests’ Associations for each deanery. He set up a two-year long Renewal Program which sought to give all Tennessee Catholics, both clergy and laity, a better understanding of the modern, post-Vatican II thinking in the Catholic Church. In 1975, Bishop Durick resigned and retired from the Diocese of Nashville and entered the Prison Ministry.
The Most Reverend James D. Niedergeses, D.D.
(2/2/1917 – 11/16/2007)
Ninth Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (5/20/1944)
Time as Bishop: (5/20/1975 – 10/13/1992)
The Most Reverend James D. Niedergeses was born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee where he received his early education. He studied at Saint Bernard Junior College in Alabama; St. Ambrose College, Iowa; and Mount St. Mary Seminary of the West, in Ohio where he was ordained to the priesthood on May 20, 1944. He served in various assignments as: Associate Pastor; Professor at Father Ryan High School; Chaplain at Saint Thomas Hospital, Nashville; Diocesan Consultor; Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish and Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Chattanooga. He was appointed the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville by Pope Paul VI on April 8, 1975. He was ordained and installed as Bishop on May 20, 1975. Bishop Niedergeses served on the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs as the Bishops’ liaison with the Southern Baptists. He was given an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities from St. Ambrose College on May 20, 1979. Bishop Niedergeses was one of Nashville’s three recipients of the National Conference of Christians and Jews Awards in 1984. He received the Tennessee Association of Churches Ecumenist of the Year Award in 1990. Bishop Niedergeses retired as Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville on October 13, 1992. He served as Administrator of the diocese until December 1992.
The Most Reverend Edward U. Kmiec, D.D., S.T.L.
(6/4/1936 – 7/11/20)
Tenth Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (12/20/1961)
Time as Bishop: (12/3/1992 – 10/2004)
Bishop Edward U. Kmiec was born in Trenton, New Jersey to Polish immigrant parents. He studied at St. Charles’ College in Maryland and received his B.A. from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore in 1958. He was ordained to the priesthood at Saint Peter’s Basilica on December 20th, 1961 and received his S.T.L. from the Gregorian University, Rome, in 1962.
After a brief period as Associate Pastor at St. Rose Church in Belmar, Bishop Kmiec served in the administration of the Diocese of Trenton until 1992, including at various time the positions of Vice Chancellor, Moderator of the Curia, and Vicar General. While serving as Pastor of St. Francis Church in Trenton, he was named a Monsignor in 1977. He was ordained a Bishop on November 3, 1982 and subsequently served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton.
In December of 1992, he was installed as the tenth Bishop of Nashville. Among diocesan accomplishments during Bishop Kmiec’s tenure are the development and implementation of a long-range strategic plan, a program to nurture vocations to the priesthood, reinstitution of the permanent diaconate program. During his episcopacy, the diocese opened five new schools, including Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville. In 2004, Bishop Kmiec was installed as the Bishop of Buffalo.
Bishop Kmiec was a member of the Bishops’ Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations and the Secretariat for Catholic-Orthodox Relations. He also served on the Bishops’ Committee on the Laity. Bishop Kmiec served as chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on the Permanent Diaconate and of Region V of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He was Bishop of Buffalo for eight years and retired in 2012.
The Most Reverend Bishop David R. Choby, D.D., J.C.L.
(1/17/1947 – 6/3/2017)
Eleventh Bishop of Nashville
Ordination to Priesthood: (9/6/1974)
Time as Bishop: (2/27/2006 – 6/2017)
Bishop Choby was born in Nashville and baptized in the Cathedral of Incarnation where he was ordained a bishop. He was the son of Raymond and Rita Choby. He had one sister, Diane C. Dyche of Fort Worth, Texas. He attended Catholic schools growing up, graduating from Father Ryan High School in 1965.
After spending one year at Aquinas College in Nashville, he entered the seminary at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa. He also studied at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., before being ordained as a priest on Sept. 6, 1974 by Bishop Joseph A. Durick at St. Henry Church in Nashville.
He served a number of assignments in the Diocese of Nashville. He was associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish, Madison, administrator of St. Ann Parish, and spent three years in residence at Christ the King Parish while working at the diocesan tribunal. From 1989 until his ordination as bishop, he served as pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Gallatin, where he was active in the community and in the local ministerial association.
Bishop Choby held a Canon Law degree from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and worked at the diocesan tribunal throughout most of his priesthood. He was on the faculty of The Pontifical College Josephinum, a seminary in Columbus, Ohio between 1984 and 1989. He served on the seminary’s board. He served two five-year terms on the diocese’s Presbyteral Council and College of Consultors.
Bishop Choby was elected as diocesan administrator for the Diocese of Nashville by the diocesan College of Consultors in 2004 after Bishop Kmiec, was installed as the Bishop of Buffalo. Bishop Choby was installed fourteen months later as the 11th bishop of Nashville on Feb. 27, 2006. He was only the second priest of the diocese’s 169-year history to be tapped as its bishop; the others have all come from outside the diocese.