Rogers, James

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James Rogers was born in Ireland, at Mount Charles, County Donegal, on July 11th 1826, the son of John Rogers and Mary Britten.

Before he was five years old his parents migrated with him to Nova Scotia. After living at Wallace in Cumberland County for a few months they moved to Halifax.

He was ordained a priest in Halifax in 1851. On September 30, 1842, the province of New Brunswick was formed into a separate diocese and named the "Diocese of Saint John in America". On 8 May, 1860, the Diocese of Saint John in America was divided, and the Diocese of Chatham created. The Diocese of Chatham comprised the northern half of the Province of New Brunswick.

The Rev. James Rogers was appointed the first bishop of the Diocese of Chatham on 8 May 1860 and was consecrated 15 August in the same year. When appointed bishop of the new diocese of Chatham, he began to play a major role in improving education in the province of New Brunswick.

In 1860 Saint Michael’s college at Chatham was opened under diocesan direction. In 1863, the parish of Bathurst being vacant by reason of illness, he attended to the spiritual wants of the parish and during this period built the convent conducted by the Sisters of Charity (Halifax). Likewise in 1864, he built the school for the Sisters at Newcastle and in 1865 erected the church and the convent at Madawaska, which was later conducted by the Sisters of Charity.

In 1868, at the request of the Bishop, the Sisters of Charity opened an academy and hospital at the episcopal seat of Chatham. Also in 1868 he was instrumental in bringing the Montreal order of the Religieuses Hospitalières de St-Joseph to set up a convent in Tracadie, New Brunswick. The nuns settled into their new surroundings, taking charge of the lazaretto or quarantine hospital where they cared for the sick.

In 1869 he invited the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame to come and establish convents in Newcastle, Bathurst, Caraquet and Saint-Louis.

When the diocese was erected in 1860 there were seven Priests and three Sisters. On his retirement in 1902, he left, in the diocese about sixty secular and religious priests and sixty churches; nine academies for young women, two religious orders of men, three of women; four hospitals and two orphanages.

CCHA, Report, 15 (1947-48), 53-58
The Rt. Rev. James Rogers, D.D., First Bishop of Chatham, N.B., by THE REV. A. L. McFADDEN, M.A.

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