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Father Thomas Peterman chronicles life of Bishop John Monaghan, third bishop of Diocese of Wilmington, in latest book

Bishop John James Monaghan

WILMINGTON — Father Thomas Peterman has completed his latest book, “John James Monaghan, D.D.: Third Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington.” The book chronicles the life and ministry of the Sumter, S.C., native who would lead the Catholic Church in Delaware, Maryland’s Eastern Shore and two counties in Virginia from 1897-1925.

Bishop Monaghan arrived from the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., and oversaw a growing diocese during his tenure. He established seven new parishes, seven missions and eight schools, according to the diocesan directory. The Little Sisters of the Poor opened a home for the aged in 1903, the same year Salesianum School was established. Two parishes for Ukrainian Catholics opened, as did St. Francis Hospital.

At the time of his appointment, Bishop Monaghan was, at 40, one of the youngest bishops in the country. When he died of a heart attack at St. Francis Hospital in 1935, he was 79 and the oldest prelate in the United States, Father Peterman writes. He is buried at Cathedral Cemetery in Wilmington.

The book checks in at 256 pages, many of those containing footnotes from Father Peterman’s research. Father Peterman told The Dialog last year that the book was a five-year project. It was published toward the end of the diocesan sesquicentennial. He wrote the book at the suggestion of the diocesan archivist because Father Monaghan’s life had not been subject to much research.

“Bishop Monaghan’s life has been interesting to research,” he said. “He was well known to my grandfather in Milford. … He was also well known to the late Monsignor John Donahue, who like many others described him as ‘a southern gentleman.”

The book is available at all local public libraries and Catholic high school libraries. It is also available for purchase at Angel Crossing Catholic Goods store in Elsmere. The store can be reached at (302) 654-3232.

This is the ninth book he has authored. According to Father Peterman, all are available at the Morris Library at the University of Delaware.