Bonds forged in Youngstown made cardinal call it home
Cardinal Mooney was reluctant to have the new high school named after him.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Edward A. Mooney, the only member of the clergy in the Youngstown Catholic diocese to rise to the position of cardinal, was born in 1882 in Mount Savage, Md.
It was after his move to Youngstown on Poland Avenue, in the heavily populated Irish district known as Kilkenny, that Cardinal Mooney would lay claim to his "hometown."
He attended St. Columba School and at age 15 entered St. Charles College in Maryland. Considered a brilliant student, he graduated from St. Mary Seminary in Cleveland and was tapped to attend the American College in Rome.
The Youngstowner was ordained in Rome in 1909. He celebrated his first Mass at St. Columba Church, his home parish.
From there, Cardinal Mooney went to Cleveland, where he taught theology at St. Mary and was the first president of Cathedral Latin School.
His only pastorate was at St. Patrick Church in Youngstown, which lasted only for a few months in 1922. It was reported that he also recognized a need for another Youngstown parish and made plans for St. Dominic Church on the city's South Side.
His grandniece, Sara (Mehler) Stephenson, 77, of Hermitage, Pa., grew close to her great-uncle. That's because, as an only child, she and her parents had lived with grandparents Bernard and Mary Mooney Byrne on Madison Avenue, until they died in the early 1940s. Mary was the cardinal's sister and Stephenson's own mother was his niece.
Stephenson said Uncle Ed would always come to the house for lunch right after Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. "You could set your clock by it," she said.
Later, the cardinal would officiate at the marriage of Sara and her husband, Francis, in St. Columba in June 1949.
Meanwhile, church officials had bigger plans for him, returning Cardinal Mooney to Rome for a number of important assignments, which typically were given to Italian clergy.
Star on the rise
One of the cardinal's most important appointments was in 1926, when he was named apostolic delegate and an archbishop to India, where he had jurisdiction over 4 million Catholics.
Five years later, just as he was preparing to become the apostolic delegate to Japan, he was named archbishop of Rochester, N.Y.
In 1937, he was appointed archbishop of Detroit. He arrived there by train to be greeted by more than 90,000 residents. In 1946, he rose to the rank of cardinal.
When a new Youngstown Catholic high school was planned in the 1950s, Cardinal Mooney reluctantly consented to have the school named in his honor, and only at the urging of Youngstown Bishop Emmet J. Walsh.
Cardinal Mooney did get to see the new school completed. There was some thought that, had he lived, he might have given out diplomas to the first graduates of Cardinal Mooney High School in 1959.
Because of ties to family and friends in Youngstown, he returned to visit whenever he could. During one such visit in 1926, before going to India, he said, "I will always hold this city near and dear. I look upon Youngstown as my hometown."