|Birth: ||Jul. 28, 1856|
|Death: ||Apr. 20, 1917|
Monsignor James Hubert Blenk SM., was born in Edenkoben, Rhenish Palatinate, to James Blenk and Catherine Wigman. Raised in a Protestant family, he was the youngest of seventeen children and also a twin but his twin brother died at six months. In 1866, he and his family emigrated from Germany and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States. His parents died only some weeks later and the orphan James Blenk was brought up in a Catholic family. Converting to Catholicism at age 12, Blenk was baptized at St. Alphonsus Church in 1869, and later confirmed by Archbishop Napoléon Joseph Perché. After completing his primary education in New Orleans, he entered Jefferson College in Convent and eventually joined the Society of Mary in 1878. He was then sent to the Marist House of Studies in Belley, France, and completed his probationary studies at the novitiate in Lyons before being sent to further his studies at the Catholic University of Ireland in Dublin. While in Ireland, he also taught Mathematics at St. Mary's College in Dundalk between 1881 and 1882.
Blenk was ordained to the Priesthood by Archbishop Francis Redwood SM., on August 16, 1885. Upon his return to Louisiana in October 1885, he served as Professor of Humanities, Rhetoric, Philosophy, Mathematics, and Natural Science at his Alma Mater of Jefferson College, where he later served as President from 1891 to 1897. In 1896, at the invitation of the Superior General of the Marist Fathers, he visited all the houses of the Congregation in Europe. He returned to New Orleans in February 1897, and named Rector of the Church of the Holy Name of Mary in Algiers. When Archbishop Placide Louis Chapelle was chosen as Apostolic Delegate to Cuba and the Apostolic Nunciature to the Philippines in 1899, Blenk became Auditor and Secretary of the Apostolic Delegation.
On June 12, 1899, Blenk was appointed Bishop of the then Diocese of Puerto Rico by Pope Leo XIII, receiving his Episcopal Consecration on the following July 2, from Archbishop Chapelle, assisted by Bishops Gustave Rouxel and Theophile Meerschaert. Before his departure for Puerto Rico, the island was struck by Hurricane San Ciriaco. Through his personal efforts he raised $30,000 to take with him to alleviate the sufferings of his new congregation. During his tenure, Blenk established a college and founded several schools and convents. He was, however, forced to suppress the Seminary due to a lack of resources and seminarians. He also renovated the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista for over $12,000.
Blenk was appointed as the Seventh Archbishop of New Orleans on April 20, 1906, succeeding the named Msgr. Placide Louis Chapelle, who died of yellow fever. He received the Pallium on April 24, 1907. During his tenure, Blenk systematized the Catholic school system in New Orleans, unifying and standardizing the Catholic educational board and insisting upon the establishment of parochial schools in each Parish. He also continued the practice of segregated Parishes for African Americans and established several himself, including St. Dominic Church in 1909. He believed it was through segregated Churches that "racial feelings and natural differences can be best adjusted."
He also organized the Louisiana State Federation of Catholic Societies (1908), Catholic Societies of Women of Louisiana (1911), Knights of Peter Claver at Opelousas (1912), and Catholic Women's Club (1916). His final years were marked by the 1915 New Orleans hurricane and the outbreak of World War I. Furthermore, he successfully campaigned against the taxation of church rectories and for the abolition of race track gambling.
Blenk died eleven years after his appointment to New Orleans, aged 60.
Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis King of France
Plot: Sanctuary Vaults.
Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Dec 08, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62689860
Added: Oct. 14, 2013
Added: Feb. 19, 2011
It Was You, O God, Who Made Your Servant Archbishop Blenk, A Successor Of The Apostles By Raising Him To The Episcopal Order. May He Also Be Associated With Them Forever. We Ask This Through Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.|
Added: Dec. 8, 2010