Hughes was born in in County Tyrone in 1797. Ordained a priest in 1826, he served as Archbishop from 1850 until his death. Hughes was a strong supporter of Irish immigrants who suffered dreadful discrimination during his life in America. At a time when many Catholics literally faced mortal danger from anti-catholic movements like the Nativists, Hughes was not afraid to invoke the use of firearms to defend the faith.
Hughes was outraged. He didn’t want Catholics to be second-class citizens in America as they had been in Ireland, and he thought he had a duty not to repeat the mistakes of the clergy in Ireland, who in his view had been remiss in not speaking out more forcefully against English oppression. Resistance was imperative.
When Hughes was 15, an event he was never to forget crystallized for him the injustice of English domination. His younger sister, Mary, died. English law barred the local Catholic priest from entering the cemetery gates to preside at her burial; the best he could do was to scoop up a handful of dirt, bless it, and hand it to Hughes to sprinkle on the grave.
In 1841, he founded St. John’s College which went on to be Fordham University. Hughes laid the foundation stone for St. Patricks’ Cathedral on August 5th 1858.
Read full Bio of Archbishop John Hughes: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/catholic_stories/cs0363.htm