Past Bishops



Most. Rev Bishop Robert J. Cunningham Bishop Cunnighham

Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, son of the late Cecil and Grace Cunningham, was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He received his early education at St. John the Baptist Parish Elementary School and the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary, Buffalo. His college and seminary education continued at St. John Vianney Seminary, East Aurora, where he earned both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity degrees. In 1978 he received a Licentiate Degree in Canon Law from Catholic University of America.

Bishop Cunningham was ordained to the priesthood by Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin on May 24, 1969 at St. Joseph New Cathedral in Buffalo. His first assignment was associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Kenmore. In 1972 he became the assistant pastor at his home parish of St. John the Baptist, Kenmore.

He was named secretary to Bishop Edward D. Head and assistant chancellor of the Diocese of Buffalo in 1974. Upon the completion of his Licentiate Degree in Canon Law, Bishop Cunningham was named a judge in the marriage tribunal and vice-chancellor of the diocese. He was named a Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1984. In 1985 he was appointed chancellor for the diocese and the following year, vicar general. In January 2002, Bishop Henry J. Mansell named Bishop Cunningham pastor of St. Louis Church in downtown Buffalo. In December 2003, the diocesan College of Consultors in Buffalo elected him diocesan administrator, a position he held until his installation as the Bishop of Ogdensburg. On March 9, 2004 His Holiness Pope John Paul II appointed Msgr. Robert J. Cunningham as the 13th Bishop of Ogdensburg. Bishop Cunningham was ordained and installed as the Bishop of Ogdensburg on May 18, 2004 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg.

On April 21, 2009 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Cunningham as the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse. He was installed as the Bishop of Syracuse on May 26, 2009 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse. The Diocese of Syracuse has over 285,000 Catholics in seven counties in Upstate New York. The Diocese of Syracuse was established November 26, 1886 and covers 5,749 square miles. On September 21, 2012 Bishop Cunningham was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Rochester, NY, until the appointment of a new bishop, a position held concurrent with the Diocese of Syracuse.

Bishop Cunningham has served on a number of boards including Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Buffalo and the Diocese of Ogdensburg, Baker Victory Services in Lackawanna, NY, the Cantalician Center in Buffalo, Board of Managers of St. Joseph’s Home in Ogdensburg and the Board of Trustees of the former Wadhams Hall Seminary College in Ogdensburg. The Bishop was also a charter member of the Kenmore Mercy Hospital Foundation Board. Bishop Cunningham has served on the board of trustees of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, NY. And currently serves on the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore.

In the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Cunningham has served as Chairman of Region II (Province of New York). He has served on the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as the Committee for Priorities and Plans, the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Sub-committee on Native American Catholics.

Bishop Cunningham was presented with an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Niagara University, Niagara Falls in 1991 and St. John’s University, Staten Island in 2007 and Canisius College in 2009. The Kenmore Mercy Hospital Foundation Board honored him for his years of service with the Sister Mechtilde Award in 2004. In 2008, Bishop Cunningham received the Cure of Ars Award from Christ the King Seminary.

Bishop Cunningham's sister-in-law, Sheila Cunningham (wife of his brother, the late Patrick J.) and his sister Eileen Korn (the wife of his brother-in-law, the late Dr. Ronald G. Korn) reside in Clarence, NY. He has thirteen nieces and nephews and 30 grandnieces and grandnephews.

Most Rev. James M. Moynihan 

Most Rev. James M. MoynihanBorn July 6, 1932, the son of Michael J. and Caroline Horigan Moynihan of Rochester, was ordained a priest on Dec. 15, 1957 in Rome, Italy. He holds a licentiate in theology from the North American College and Gregorian University, Rome, and a doctorate in canon law, summa cum laude, from Gregorian University. His assignments have included: associate pastor, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Rochester defender of the bond and promoter of justice in the diocesan tribunal; secretary to Bishop James E. Kearney; vice chancellor of the Diocese of Rochester; chancellor of the Diocese of Rochester; Catholic chaplain, Monroe County jail; Catholic chaplain, Rochester police department Catholic chaplain, Highland Hospital, Rochester; pastor, St. Joseph parish Penfield; director, bishop's annual Catholic Thanksgiving Appeal; associate secretary general, Catholic Near East Welfare Association. He was appointed bishop of Syracuse April 4, 1995; ordained and installed May 29, 1995. He retired on April 21, 2009. He died on March 6, 2017.

Download Bishop Moynihan's Pastoral letter (pdf)»

Most Rev. Joseph T. O'Keefe 

Most Rev. Joseph T. O'KeefeBorn March 12, 1919, the son of Michael and Bridget O'Sullivan O'Keefe of New York City, was ordained a priest April 17, 1948 for the Archdiocese of New York. His assignments have included: Associate pastor of St. Luke's in the Bronx,Biology instructor and Dean of Studies at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, Editor of the Catholic Encyclopedia for School and Home, Biology instructor at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, Biology Instructor at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, Associate Superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of New York, Archdiocesan Secretary for Education, Chancellor of the Archdiocese and Vicar General, Pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Manhattan. Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York on July 3, 1982, and titular bishop of Tre Taverne, consecrated at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC on September 8, 1982. He was appointed Bishop of Syracuse on June 16, 1987, installed August 3, 1987 and retired May 29, 1995.  He died on September 2, 1997 and is buried in the crypt of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse New York.

Most Rev. Thomas J. Costello 

Most Rev. Thomas J. CostelloMost Rev. Thomas J. Costello, born Feb. 23, 1929, the son of James G. and Ethel Dupont Costello, of Camden and native of St. Peter's, Rome, was ordained a priest June 5, 1954 for the Diocese of Syracuse. His assignments have included: associate pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, Syracuse; secretary of the diocesan tribunal; superintendent of Catholic schools; pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes; episcopal vicar of the Southern Region; vicar general of the diocese under Bishops Frank Harrison, Joseph O'Keefe, and James Moynihan. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Syracuse Jan. 10, 1978; consecrated and installed March 13, 1978. He was appointed Vicar for Priests, effective May 5, 2000.  He officially retired on March 23, 2004, but remained Vicar General for the Diocese until May 26, 2009. He died on February 15, 2019.

Most Rev. Frank J. Harrison 

Most Rev. Frank J. HarrisonMost Rev. Frank J. Harrison, born Aug. 20, 1912, the son of Frank J. and Mary Flynn Harrison of Syracuse and native of St. Lucy's in Syracuse, was ordained a priest June 4, 1937 in Rochester for the Diocese of Syracuse. His assignments included: assistant director, Utica Catholic Charities; associate pastor, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Utica, St. Mary's in Binghamton, and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse; first pastor of St. Andrew, Syracuse; pastor of St. Patrick, Binghamton, and St. James, Syracuse. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Syracuse, March 1, 1971 and consecrated on April 22, 1971. He was appointed bishop of Syracuse Nov. 16, 1977. His motto was Unity in Christ. He retired June 16, 1987. Bishop Harrison died at the age of 91 on May 1, 2004. He is buried in his family plot at St. Agnes Cemetery, Syracuse.

Most Rev. David Frederick Cunningham 

Most Rev. David Frederick CunninghamMost Rev. David Frederick Cunningham, born December 3, 1900 in Walkerville, Montana, son of David and Mary Fitzgerald Cunningham, was ordained a priest on June 12, 1926 at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rochester, New York. His assignments included: assistant pastor of St. Ambrose Church, Endicott, assistant at Loretto Rest, assistant at St. John's Church, Camden, New York, secretary to Bishop Curley, Bishop Duffy, Bishop Foery and chancellor of the diocese, pastor of St. John the Baptist, Syracuse and was Vicar General of the diocese. He was named Titular Bishop of Lampsacus and Auxiliary Bishop of Syracuse on April 5, 1950, consecrated Bishop on June 8, 1950. His consecration marks the first occasion when a priest ordained for Syracuse was advanced to the ranks of the Episcopacy. He participated in Second Vatican Council Syracuse Diocese and on June 21, 1967, was appointed Co-adjutor Bishop of Syracuse with right of succession.  On August 4, 1970 he was named 6th Bishop of Syracuse. On December 3, 1975 he resigned at age 75 but continued to serve as apostolic administrator. He died on February 22, 1979 and was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Dewitt. His motto was "All Things in Charity."

Most Rev. Walter Andrew Foery 

Most Rev. Walter Andrew FoeryMost Rev. Walter Andrew Foery, born July 6, 1890 in Rochester, New York, son of William Foery and Agnes O'Brien Foery and was ordained a priest on June 10, 1916 in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rochester, NY. His assignments included: assistant pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Rochester, NY, director of Rochester New York Catholic Charities, pastor of Most Holy Rosary Church, Rochester, NY, Vice Chairman of Rochester, NY Council of Social Agencies. He was appointed 5th Bishop of Syracuse and youngest priest ever appointed to be bishop of Syracuse and held this post longer than any of his predecessors. He was consecrated Bishop on August 18, 1937 at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Rochester and installed as 5th Bishop of Syracuse on September 1, 1937. On December 11, 1961, he was appointed assistant at the Pontifical Throne and on August 4, 1970 he retired as Bishop of Syracuse. His motto was "Stand Firm in the Faith." He died at the age of 87 on May 10, 1978 and is buried in the priests' plot in St. Mary's Cemetery, Dewitt. While he was bishop he helped establish 2 colleges - Lemoyne and Maria Regina, ordained 257 priests, opened 10 high schools and 38 grammar schools. Erected 42 new parishes, dedicated 84 new church buildings, opened Pius X, a retreat house for diocesan priests and lay persons, 3 new hospitals in different parts of the diocese and a new chancery building. He launched CYO programs and provided 2 youth camps.

Most Rev. John Aloysius Duffy 

Most Rev. John Aloysius DuffyMost Rev. John Aloysius Duffy, 4th Bishop of Syracuse, was born on October 29, 1884 in Jersey City, NJ, son of Patrick Joseph and Anna Marie Smith Duffy and was ordained a priest on June 13, 1908. His assignments included: assistant at Our Lady of Grace, Hoboken, NJ, professor of Literature and Languages, Seton Hall College, instructor in church history at Newark Seminary, Chancellor for Diocese of Newark, NJ, Domestic Prelate to His Holiness, Pope Pius XI with the title of Rt. Rev. Msgr., made Vicar General, Diocese of Newark, NJ, administrator of Diocese of Newark, Pastor of St. Joseph's Church, Jersey City, NJ. Consecrated Bishop of Syracuse Diocese on April 21, 1933 in Sacred Heart Cathedral, Newark, NJ. Installed as Bishop of Syracuse in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on July 11, 1933. His motto was "Wisdom from Above." January 9, 1937 he was appointed Bishop of Buffalo, NY and installed as Bishop on April 14, 1937. He died September 27, 1944 and on October 4, 1944 was buried in Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City, NJ.

Most Rev. Daniel Joseph Curley 

Most Rev. Daniel Joseph CurleyMost Rev. Daniel Joseph Curley, born June 16, 1869, son of Michael and Margaret Swan Curley, of New York City. He was ordained a priest in Rome, Italy on May 19, 1894. His assignments included: assistant at Church of the Holy Name in Manhattan, archdiocese secretary, Pastor of  Our Lady of Solace in the Bronx. Elected as Bishop of Syracuse on February 19, 1923 and consecrated Bishop on May 1, 1923 in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. On May 15, 1923 he was formally installed as Bishop of the Syracuse Diocese in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. His motto was "Hail, Our Hope!" He died August 3, 1932. Bishop Curley established the Society for the Propagation of Faith, established 28 parishes, 10 schools built and 8 new high schools. He saw the erection of Loretto Rest and erected Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton. At his invitation, the Dominican Sisters of Perpetual Rosary opened in Syracuse the first home for Cloistered Nuns. He also made music a part of the daily curriculum in diocesan schools. His body lies in the crypt in the Cathedral.

Most Rev. John Grimes 

Most Rev. John GrimesMost Rev. John Grimes, born December 18, 1852, the son of John and Bridget Hammon Grimes, of Doughanmore, County Limerick, Ireland, was ordained a priest February 19, 1882 in Albany. His assignments have included: assistant to Rev. Dr. James A. O'Hara, pastor of St. Mary's, served his first pastorate at Whitesboro, appointed third pastor of St. Mary's on death of Rev. Dr. James A. O'Hara in 1890. On May 16, 1909, he was consecrated Bishop of Imeria and Co-adjutor Bishop of Syracuse to Bishop Ludden in Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. August 6, 1912, he succeeded Bishop Ludden. He served as the second bishop of Syracuse until July 22, 1922 and died on July 26, 1922 and is buried in the crypt at the Cathedral. His motto was "Be A Mother to us."

Most Rev. Patrick Anthony Ludden 

Most Rev. Patrick Anthony LuddenMost Rev. Patrick Anthony Ludden, first bishop of Syracuse, was born on February 4, 1836 in County Mayo, Ireland, son of Anthony and Ellen Fitzgerald and was ordained a priest May 21, 1864 for the Albany Diocese. His assignments included: St. Joseph's Church, Malone, NY, Chancellor of the Albany Diocese, theologian and companion to Bishop Conroy at the 20th Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Vicar General of Diocese of Albany and rector of Albany Cathedral, pastor of St. Peter's Church, Troy. Appointed Bishop of Diocese of Syracuse on December 14, 1886, consecrated Bishop on May 1, 1887 at Assumption Church. He chose St. John the Evangelist as his Cathedral. In 1903 left St. John the Evangelist and took St. Mary's as the Cathedral of the Diocese. His motto was "Justice and Peace." Bishop Ludden died August 6, 1912 and is buried in the crypt under the Cathedral.

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