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Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph Kain (May 31, 1841-October 13, 1903) was born near Martinsburg. The son of Jeremiah and Ellen Murphy Kain, he received his education at St. Charles College, Ellicott City, Maryland, and St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, where he attained highest honors. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1866 for the Diocese of Richmond. His first pastoral assignment was to his home parish of St. Joseph’s in Martinsburg, with missions from Leesburg, Virginia, to Harpers Ferry. He dedicated the seven years he spent as pastor there to rebuilding the communities after the Civil War.

In May 1875, Kain succeeded the Right Reverend Richard V. Whelan (1809–74) as the second bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling. As bishop he worked to meet the needs of the newly arrived immigrants who came to labor in West Virginia’s mines and factories, continuing his predecessor’s efforts to build the churches and schools required to serve them. When he left the diocese in 1893, 15 new parishes had been established and six schools founded. Respected for his intellect, Kain was frequently consulted for his positions on the issues of the day, including labor unions and education.

Kain remained in Wheeling until his appointment as Archbishop of St. Louis in 1893. He died at the age of 62 and is buried in St. Louis.

This Article was written by Tricia Pyne

Last Revised on December 07, 2015

Cite This Article

Pyne, Tricia "John Joseph Kain." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 07 December 2015. Web. 17 April 2024.


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