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John Joseph Cantwell Edit Profile

archbishop , bishop , priest

John Joseph Cantwell, Irish archbishop. Awarded Golden Rose of Tepeyac, 1930; Knight Commander Holy Sepulchre, 1931; Distinguished Medal, Republic of Lebanon, 1937.


Cantwell, John Joseph was born on December 1, 1874 in Limerick, Ireland. Son of Patrick and Ellen (O’Donnell) Cantwell.


Sacred Heart College, Crescent, Limerick, St. Patrick’s College, Thurles, Ireland.


He was ordained priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco on June 18, 1899 and was initially assigned as curate of Berkeley's St Joseph The Worker parish. Father Cantwell established the Newman Club at the University of California, Berkeley, served as first chaplain. In 1906, San Francisco Archbishop Patrick W. Riordan appointed Cantwell his secretary, and he moved from Berkeley to the Archbishop Residence at 1000 Fulton Street.

In August 1908 Riordan sent Cantwell (by now his Archdiocesan vicar general) to Rome, to inquire of Pope Pius X as to Riordan's successor. In 1912, Fathers Cantwell and Michael D. Connolly accompanied Bishop Edward J. Hanna from Rochester, New York to San Francisco where after Riordan's death December 27,1914, Cantwell served as Vicar General to Archbishop Hanna (1915–1917). Pope Benedict XV appointed John J. Cantwell Bishop of Monterey-Los Angeles in September 1917, two years after the death of Bishop Thomas Conaty, and Cantwell was formally ordained that December.

Two divisions of the Monterey-Los Angeles diocese occurred during Archbishop Cantwell's 30 year term. In June 1922 it was split by Pope Pius XI to form the Diocese of Monterey-Fresno and the Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego. The latter diocese was split in July 1936 to create the Diocese of San Diego and the present-day Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with Pope Pius XI elevating Cantwell to Archbishop of Los Angeles.

Archbishop Cantwell was noted for being particularly sensitive to the needs of non-English speaking Catholics in the archdiocese, and he created 50 Hispanic parishes and missions. He was a major supporter of the Cristero movement, particularly in the early 1930s after their defeat in armed conflict with the secularist Mexican government. Many exiled Mexican clerics were given refuge in the Los Angeles diocese during that era.

Archbishop Cantwell's remains are located in the mausoleum of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.


The funeral of Archbishop Cantwell at the Cathedral of Saint Vibiana was attended by members of the motion picture and aircraft industries.


Patrick Cantwell

Ellen (O’Donnell) Cantwell