Rt. Rev. Dominic Laurence Graessel

Bishop-elect of Samosata – Coadjutor Bishop of Baltimore

Rt. Rev. Dominic Laurence Graessel* was born on August 18, 1753 in the Diocese of Ratisbon, Bavaria, in what is now Germany. After attending elementary school in his hometown, he entered the Society of Jesus at the Munich novitiate. The Society was suppressed by Pope Clement IV in 1773, so Graessel completed his studies at the Seminary of Ingolstadt. He was ordained a priest and worked in the Archdiocese of Munich, Germany. He sailed for America on August 27, 1781 from London and arrived in the United States in October of the same year. He initially worked in Pennsylvania and New Jersey which was part of the Diocese of Baltimore at that time. His primary ministry was to the German Catholic community. In 1788 he was appointed pastor of St. Mary Church in Philadelphia.

In May 1793, Graessel was selected by his brother priests as coadjutor of Baltimore. However, five months later, in October 1793, he died of the yellow fever epidemic that swept through Philadelphia. Without knowledge of Graessel’s death, Pope Pius VI granted the request of the American clergy and he was appointed Coadjutor of Baltimore. Since news of his death did not reach the sacred congregation of Propaganda until July 1794, Graessel’s appointment went through all the formalities of the Pontifical Chancery. After learning of his death, the Rev. Leonard Neale was chosen to succeed Bishop John Carroll.

*Before December 31, 1930, the title “Most Reverend” was reserved for archbishops; the other bishops were given the title of “Right Reverend.” After that date, “Most Reverend” became general for all archbishops and bishops. (Canon Law Digest. Bouscaren, Vol. 1, P. 20).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Catholic Bishops in America 1789-1989, Volume II.