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Esler and Huntley
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- McNally, John T., 1871-1952
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Born at Hope River, Prince Edward Island, on June 24, 1871, McNally moved with his parents to Summerside as a young child. Here he completed his high school education in 1886, receiving a scholarship and the Governor-General’s silver medal. He graduated from the Prince of Wales College, Charlottetown in 1889, with an honour’s diploma, a teacher’s certificate and another silver medal. He taught for a year before gaining a Bachelor of the Arts and a Licentiate in Philosophy from the University of Ottawa in 1892. He became one of the first students at the Canadian College in Rome. In 1893 he gained a Doctorate in Philosophy and in 1897, a Doctorate in Theology. He was ordained by Cardinal Cassetta in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran on April 4, 1896 for the Diocese of Ottawa.
On his return to Canada McNally was curate at St. Patrick’s Church, Ottawa until in February, 1900 he went to Portland, Oregon as secretary to Archbishop Christie. In 1904 McNally returned to Rome for a further two years of study.
In December 1905 he was appointed pastor St. Stephen, Old Chelsea in Quebec and in 1909 he acted as notary to the first Plenary Council held by the Catholic Church in Canada. In May 1911 he was appointed pastor at St. Mary’s, Almonte, Ontario.
McNally was notified on April 4, 1913 of his appointment as Bishop of Calgary. He was consecrated at the Canadian College in Rome by Cardinal Falconio and was installed on Sunday, July 28, 1913 in the Cathedral in Calgary by Archbishop Emil Legal of Edmonton, after which there was a large reception. Bishop McNally was the first Irish bishop appointed in the Prairie Provinces.
On January 18, 1916 McNally sailed from New York to Rome in secret to submit the question of his dismissal of the Oblate Order from Sacred Heart Parish, Calgary to the jurisdiction of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation, which judged his case favourably. He returned on July 18 and proceeded in releasing four French Orders from his Diocese. Although the Oblates remained he had asserted his own authority.
On August 29, 1924 Bishop McNally was transferred to the Diocese of Hamilton as Coadjutor to Bishop Dowling, who died that day. McNally was Bishop of Hamilton for 13 years until 1937 when he was appointed to the Archdiocese of Halifax. McNally died on November 18,1952.
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File consists of materials related to Bishop McNally, Catholic barrister P. Harcourt-O’Reilly (see 25th Anniversary of Ordination (15.631)), and two Protestant ministers: Alexander Esler and J. Austin Huntley.
On July 11, 1915, Rev. Alexander Esler of Presbyterian Grace Church gave a sermon to a group of Orangemen in which he declared that the Roman Catholic Church was “behind the [First World] war” and that the “kaiser is the best friend of the Vatican.” P. Harcourt-O’Reilly, Catholic barrister, charged Esler with sedition. According to The Calgary News-Telegram, O’Reilly claimed to be making the charge “on behalf of the Roman Catholics of this city and country.” On July 23, Bishop McNally issued a statement in which he called Esler’s statements “untrue and unjust” but also said that the Catholic Church “as such, has nothing whatsoever to do” with O’Reilly’s “charge and threatened prosecution.” He said that it “is not the teaching of the church or her Divine Master to seek revenge” and that O’Reilly had “in no way consulted the spiritual head of this diocese in the matter in question.” On July 28, O’Reilly wrote to McNally: “My action was in accord with and in support of my rights as a citizen and a British subject without any intention to arrogate to myself the defence of the Catholic Church.” He also said: “As the result of a long and more or less friendly chat with Rev. Mr. Esler yesterday and also with some of the leaders of his church I might say that nothing of the kind will occur again for a very long time.”
On December 16, 1916, Rev. J. Austin Huntley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Calgary, had a letter published in The Calgary Daily Herald in which he was accused the Catholic Church of idolatry. A week later, The Herald published a rebuttal to Huntley’s letter which was simply signed “Catholic.” The author of the rebuttal was P. Harcourt O’Reilly.
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Create Jul 24, 2015
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