Monsignor Doane


In our latest "who are these guys?" Newark statues feature, we are going to be visiting Monsignor Doane, rector of St. Patrick's Pro-Cathedral, friend of the arts, champion for Newark, and servant of the poor. George Hobart Doane is located in a little 0.1 acre triangle of land north of Military Park officially called "Doane Park." Appropriately he faces the St. Patrick's Pro-Cathedral he faithfully served for so many years.

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Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1830, George Hobart Doane was the son of the Right Rev. George Washington Doane, then the minister of Trinity Church, Boston(see Note1), and, from 1832, the Episcopalian Bishop of New Jersey. His mother came from an established New England family. Young George Hobart Doane and his brother William Croswell Doane grew up in Burlington County.

George Washington Doane was a "High Church" Episcopalian, that is, a supporter of the English Oxford Movement. The High Church movement is often associated with Catholic-style rituals and vestments, but it was truly about more than rite and costume. The High Church movement saw the Anglican Church as not the creation of ordinary man, but as the creation of the Apostles themselves. "Evangelical Truth: Apostolic Order."

George Washington Doane himself perfectly expounded on the beliefs of the High Churchers in his newspaper, the Churchman

The Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ---the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, lifted up from the earth that he might draw all men unto him. Man lost---God incarnate for his recovery---'Christ crucified' the price of his restoration---justification by faith,---faith working by love,---love purifying the heart,---salvation wholly by grace . . . the body of the Lord Jesus which he hath purchased with his own blood. Its ministers, its sacraments, its worship---the appointment of the Lord, the means of Grace.

Episcopalianism had three major divisions at in the early 1800s. There was the High Church Oxford movement, of whom we have read, the Low Church Evangevical movement, and the Broad Church movement. The Evangelicals emphasized the Bible and the conversion experience and rejected the High Churchers as "ritualists". The Broad Churchers tried to accomodate everyone.

George Hobart Doane graduated from the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1850, but found medicine unsatisfying and soon became an Episcopalian deacon at Grace Church (official website), Newark. Young George Hobart Doane was always an intense adherent of the Oxford Movement. During his short deaconship at Grace Church he preached of the "One Holy and Catholic and Apostolic Church," and had more positive things to say about Pope Pius IX than he did Dr. Tyng, the leader of the Episcopalians at the time.

Influenced by the Oxford Movement, perhaps partly due to his father's trials at the hands of "evangelical" Episcopalians, the young George Hobart Doane became a Catholic in 1855 (see Note2). One night in July 1855 George Hobart Doane appeared at St. Patrick's Pro-Cathedral (SHU site on St. Patrick's and demanded time with Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, himself a convert from Episcopalianism. Bayley asked that the young man come back the next day, but Doane would not wait. Bayley yielded to Doane's request for an immediate conversation and stayed up half the night with the discontented Episcopalian. At that time Doane already wanted to convert to Catholicism, but the cautions of his friends kept him a Protestant until September.

Grace Church, where Doane was briefly a Episcopalian deacon.

Unsurprisingly, George Hobart Doane was deposed as deacon of Grace Church. His father personally removed him from office.

The conversion of the son of the Episcopalian Bishop of New Jersey caused a national stir. A newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky, the Christian Observer, believed that Doane's conversion might signal yet more conversions to Catholicism. "All the disciples of the Oxford School must eventually go to Rome" and "It is presumed that all of the young clergy of the Pusey school soon carol themselves under the Pope's banner." (October 29, 1855, the Pusey School referred to the Anglo-Catholic followers of an English churchmen)

After studying in Paris and Rome, George Hobart Doane was ordained a Catholic priest by Bayley in 1857 at St. Patrick's Pro-Cathedral. He then became Bayley's private secretary.

Bishop George Washington Doane was displeased at his son's conversion to Catholicism. The two, however, did reconcile before George Washington Doane's death.

During the Civil War Doane was a chaplain in the Union Army. He even came under fire at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Those who appreciate Newark's finest statues and architecture have this humble churchman to thank. Monsignor Doane "was a good man who worked early and late for fifty years to make Newark a pleasanter and cleaner city to live in. Monsignor Doane spread the gospel of civic uplift wherever he went, and at a time when the city was singularly in need of such ministrations."

St. Patrick's Pro-Cathedral, where Doane spent over fifty years of his life.

If you have ever admired the statue group above the door of the Newark Public Library, you have Monsignor Doane to thank, since Doane procured the funds for Newark Catholic school graduate John Flanagan's work. Doane was also instrumental in the Essex County Park Commission, a leader in the movement for a new, more attractive City Hall, a new Post Office, and even a well-lighted and equipped police station in the Second Police Precinct.

While art may have been Doane's passion, Doane also served the poor. Doane had much to do with the establishment of St. Michael's Hospital. He was also active in temperence work, at one point being known as "Father Mathew of America." In an opinion that perhaps has not aged well, Doane also called for rugby, as he called football, to be banned.

In a 1900 letter to his parishioners Doane wrote:

I have never seen a prizefight, a bullfight, or a Rugby game, but from the accounts I have read of them, I should think they are equally brutal. Why call the Rugby game a game? Why not call it a battle? Why call it playing when it is fighting? . . . . We have laws against dogfights, bullfights, and prizefights. Why is there not a law against such contests as these, in which violence and roughness carry the day? (New York Times, Nov 21, 1900)

In 1880 Father Doane became Monsignor Doane. From October 1880 to October 1881 he was acting Bishop of Newark. In 1890 Pope Leo named him a prothonotory apostolic.

Monsignor Doane died on January 20th, 1905, at age 75. He was in conversation with several young priests when he suddenly collapsed. At the funeral a friend recalled that Doane had had a vision of Heaven two weeks before he died.

When Monsignor Doane died in 1905 a Jewish citizen of Newark wrote:

Kind, noble, and possessed of the highest public spirit and patriotism, he enters to his reward. He will live on in our memories and hearts. His charities and efforts were spent alike on every denomination. Jew and Gentile join in revering his memory and paying just tribute to his worth.
A fundraising effort for a Doane Memorial commenced almost immediately after Doane's death. In 1908 the statue was unveiled. The sculptor was William Clark Noble.

Noble's intention was to depict Doane as he was about to begin a sermon.




Note1 One encounters a great deal of contradiction in Newark history. I have also seen that George Washington Doane was the minister at Trinity Church, Manhattan.


Note2 More contradiction. I have seen that Doane converted in 1853, however, I am reasonably sure that 1855 is the correct year.




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