Bishop of Pittsburgh Diocese June 29, 1921 to December 22, 1950

Hugh was born October 8, 1873 in Johnstown, PA. On May 31, 1889, as a 15-year-old seminarian at St. Vincent 35 miles away, he learned of the disastrous Johnstown flood and walked most of the way home, only to discover that his father, four brothers and their sisters had been killed. Only his mother and baby brother Michael was miraculously saved. In the water, his mother’s hair became entangled on a spike protruding from a log, which kept her head above water until she was rescued at Lockport, 28 miles down river. Eventually, he returned to St. Vincent and continued his studies.

Hugh was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh on July 2, 1898. in 1903, he was sent to St. Paul Cathedral and served as secretary to Bishop Canevin. He remained at the cathedral, in its three locations: Fifth Avenue at Grant Street downtown, at Epiphany church uptown, and at its present site at Fifth Avenue and Craig Street Oakland, until March 19, 1909 when he was appointed the first full-time superintendent of schools. In 1919, as pastor of St Mary Magdalene parish, Homestead, during a steelworker’s strike, he distinguished himself in his care for and support of the strikers.

At the resignation of Bishop Canevin, Father Boyle was installed as Bishop of Pittsburgh on June 29, 1921. Bishop Boyle had a special fondness for the children at St Paul Orphanage, which had an average population of more than 1,000 children. The Christmas collection, which he instituted in every parish was the largest source of income for the care of the orphans.

The years of Bishop Boyle’s ministry were turbulent times with unusual political and civil situations, notably the great Depression and World War II. At the 1941 dedication of the Catholic Worker School, Bishop Boyle declared that labor and the general public had been misled by those “whose economic philosophy is opposed to the fundamental right of human dignity. The labor movement in this country is on the march. It needs to grow soundly.”

He was bishop of the diocese when St. James’ present magnificent church building was dedicated on August 1931. Bishop Boyle had no auxiliary bishops. In 30 years, he was the confirming bishop of most of the young people confirmed between 1921 and 1950 here at St. James.

On March 13, 1948, Msgr. John E. Dearden of Cleveland, Ohio was appointed coadjutor bishop to Bishop Boyle with the right of succession. In August of 1949, Mr. & Mrs. David I. McCahill donated their Warwick Terrace home as a residence for the Bishop of Pittsburgh. Boyle visited the house but never lived in it. He died in Mercy Hospital on December 22, 1950, just six weeks after the death of Msgr. Walsh, St James pastor. He is buried in the priest’s plot in St. Mary Cemetery in Lawrenceville.

Forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations. I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him; that my hand may be always with him, and that my arm may make him strong. Psalm 89, vv. 5, 21-22.