Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Howard Hodges (October 8, 1911-January 27, 1985) was born in Harpers Ferry. He received his education at St. Charles College, in Maryland, and at the North American College, Rome, Italy. Hodges was ordained to the priesthood in 1935 for the Diocese of Richmond. He was engaged in pastoral work for the diocese, then served as director of the Diocesan Mission Band, 1945–52.
Hodges was made an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Richmond in 1952. He held this position until he was appointed coadjutor bishop with the right of succession to Archbishop John J. Swint (1879– 1962) of the Diocese of Wheeling in 1961. He succeeded Swint as the fifth bishop of the diocese in 1962.
Hodges attended the Second Vatican Council and dedicated himself to implementing the liberalizing reforms to come out of the council. He was a leader in the state’s ecumenical movement and in 1975 was recognized for distinguished service in the ecumenical cause by the West Virginia Council of Churches. An outspoken advocate for social justice for all West Virginians, he was a driving force behind the 1975 pastoral letter issued jointly by the Roman Catholic Bishops of Appalachia, ‘‘This Land is Home To Me,’’ which addressed the issues of economic and political powerlessness.
Hodges sought and received approval from the Holy See for the redrawing of the diocese’s boundaries in 1974, so that they would correspond with the state’s boundaries. He also recommended the renaming of the diocese from Wheeling to Wheeling-Charleston that same year. Bishop Hodges died in Wheeling, at the age of 73.
Written by Tricia Pyne