ARCHBISHOP EDWIN VINCENT O'HARA

Patron of 0'Hara High School
    Archbishop Edwin Vincent 0'Hara, the man for whom our school was named, was not only an outstanding Bishop in the growth of the Diocese of Kansas City, but a man honored throughout the United States as an outstanding churchman and human being.
    A lifelong champion of minority rights and interfaith harmony, the Archbishop was the principal agent in drawing up and putting to work the first minimum wage law to stand the test of the United States Supreme Court. Later, out of moral conviction, he anticipated a Supreme Court decision by quietly abolishing segregation in his schools. He was honored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Japanese-American Association and other groups for his defense of human rights. Two Popes formally recognized his importance to the church in America as founder and prime mover in the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), a new translation of the Bible, and the Ritual in English.
    Edwin Vincent 0'Hara was born in Lansboro, Minnesota, on September 6, 188 1. In 1900 he entered the seminary and on June 10, 1905, he was ordained. His first assignment as a priest was at the Cathedral in Portland, Oregon, and in 1912 he was appointed Diocesan Superintendent of Schools. It was in 1912 that he began his work on America's first successful minimum wage law. The case was of such import that it has been included in Charles A. and Mary Beard's Basic History of the United States. For his work in championing the minimum wage he received an honorary LL.D degree from Notre Dame University.
    In 1930, Pope Pius XII appointed him as Bishop of Great Falls, Montana. He spent the next nine years working on nationalizing CCD programs and establishing its headquarters at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He was later to be named a Trustee of the University and founder of the CCD movement in the United States.
    On April 15, 1939, he was appointed to the See of Kansas City, Missouri. In his first ten years as Bishop of Kansas City he had no fewer than 150 buildings constructed or acquired for religious, educational and charitable uses. The new buildings included forty-two churches, fourteen convents, sixteen grade schools, six high schools and two colleges. He also formed four diocesan boards of importance: The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, the National Council of Women and the National Council of Youth. He was a leader in instituting coeducation of students in his schools. In 1954 Pope Pius XII raised him to the dignity of Archbishop, and hailed him a "great catechist in the Church in the United States."
    On September 11, 1956, while on a trip to Milan to speak to Archbishop Montini on the work of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Archbishop O'Hara died. His body was flown back to Kansas City and placed in a crypt under the chapel of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. The Archbishop's friend, Harry S. Truman, wrote, "He was one of the finest men I ever knew."
    In June of 1964 ground breaking ceremonies were held for the new Archbishop O'Hara Memorial High School. The new school was occupied in September of 1965 and dedicated by Cardinal Joseph Ritter of St. Louis and Bishop Charles Helmsing of Kansas City. In May of 1969 O'Hara presented its first graduating class of 154 students.

Archbishop O'Hara

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