Paul John Hallinan
April 8, 1911–March 27, 1968
April 8, 1911–March 27, 1968
As chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, Archbishop Hallinan dedicated himself to renewing the rites of the Church so they would express the peace and comfort that Christ spoke of. Archbishop Hallinan, best known in the American church for his unending work for liturgical reform and his outspoken support of civil rights causes, died at his residence Wednesday, March 27, at 5 a.m. The cause of death was complications from hepatitis and liver failure. He had been seriously ill for several weeks.
Paul J. Hallinan was born in Painesville, Ohio, April 8, 1911, the son of Clarence C. and Jane Hallinan. His mother died in 1952 and his father in 1955. His father lived the last three years of his life with Father Hallinan while he was Newman chaplain at Cleveland’s Western Reserve University.
The future archbishop entered Cathedral Latin School in Cleveland in 1924 and served as editor of his high school yearbook. After graduation, he went to the University of Notre Dame and graduated with a degree in philosophy in 1932. While at Notre Dame, he edited the yearbook and a humor magazine. During summer vacation he worked for the Painesville Telegraph.
Always interested in journalism, particularly the Catholic press, he once wrote: “We need lay spokesmen on diocesan papers, but even more we need Catholics raising their voices, in accents that a secular society can appreciate, in every worthy channel of communication: learned journals and popular magazines, books and lectures, classrooms and laboratories, government and community programs, all the arts and all the sciences. They must speak not specifically as Catholics but as highly skilled and accessible persons.”
He wrote articles, particularly on the liturgy, for many Catholic publications. He always said he could never remember ever wanting to be anything but a priest.
The archbishop attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Cleveland after conferring with his pastor, Msgr. William J. Gallena of St. Mary’s Parish, Painesville. He said, “Msgr. Gallena has been everything to me. He heard my first confession, gave me my First Communion and has been a friend and adviser all my life.”
Father Hallinan was ordained Feb. 20, 1937 at St. John’s Cathedral, Cleveland. His first assignment was at St. Aloysius, Cleveland (1937-1942). During World War II, he was a chaplain (captain) and served in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines with the 542nd Engineer Amphibian Regiment. In June, 1944, he received the Purple Heart at Biak, New Guinea.
After army service, Father Hallinan returned to Cleveland and served from 1945-47 at the cathedral. In 1947, he was named diocesan director of the Newman Clubs and worked in the apostolate until 1958. He served as national chaplain of the Newman Federation from 1952-57. He was named a monsignor during this time.
On Sept. 9, 1958, he was appointed bishop of Charleston, S.C., and was consecrated in Cleveland on Oct. 28, 1958, by then apostolic delegate to the United States, Archbishop Ameleto Cicognani. He was installed Nov. 25, 1958.
Msgr. Hallinan learned of his appointment as bishop while preparing a lecture for one of the religion courses he taught at Newman Hall in Cleveland. He was appointed by Pope Pius XII.
In 1961, while still bishop of Charleston, he issued a pastoral letter on racial justice. The letter dealt with the admission policy of parochial schools. It said that Catholic pupils, regardless of color, would be admitted to Catholic schools as soon as it could be done with safety, but not later than when public schools were opened to all pupils. A year later Bishop Hallinan issued a pastoral on Christian Unity which said in part, “Never has this longing for Christian unity been more evident...We are growing more conscious that the Holy Spirit of God, brooding over our distressed world and our divided Christendom, is stirring now the souls of men in many places, providing the light and strength without which reunion remains an empty dream.”
When the Diocese of Atlanta was elevated to the status of an archdiocese on Feb. 21, 1962, Bishop Hallinan was named its first archbishop, and bishop of the Province of Atlanta that includes five dioceses.
He was installed on March 29, 1962 by then apostolic delegate, Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta.
One of his first acts was to integrate the Catholic schools and hospitals within the archdiocese.
During his term as archbishop, several churches including Holy Cross, Holy Spirit, St. Thomas the Apostle, Smyrna, and missions at Cleveland, GA and Clarkesville, GA were opened. The new John Lancaster Spalding Catholic Center at the University of Georgia was finished and the old St. Joseph’s Boys Home at Washington, GA was transferred to Atlanta to new quarters and became the Village of St. Joseph for boys and girls. He also established The Georgia Bulletin, the weekly archdiocesan newspaper.
Archbishop Hallinan was also one of four Atlanta civic leaders who sponsored a banquet honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., after he received the Nobel Peace Prize. He said Dr. King was a “pioneer in a new dynamic of peace, expressed in the formula, ‘I will walk in liberty, O Lord, because I seek thy precepts.’”
But it was his work for the vernacular liturgy that brought Archbishop Hallinan the most praise and criticism.
In 1962, the archbishop was named to the Commission on the Sacred Liturgy by Pope John XXIII and worked untiringly for the Mass to be said in English or the native tongue of all countries.
In one of his last talks on the liturgy, the archbishop said, “Through the Sacred Constitution on the Liturgy, we are now emerging from a period of fixity and rigidity which was unnatural in the Church’s life.” In the talk, he again called for experimentation.
On the archbishop’s return from the second session of the Second Vatican Council he became ill in December 1963, with hepatitis and was hospitalized for almost seven months. He never fully regained his health.
However, he continued to serve on the postconciliar Commission on the Sacred Liturgy, as chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, and on the International Committee for an English Liturgy.
In July, 1964, he wrote a pamphlet, “How to Understand Changes in the Liturgy,” and about 50,000 copies were distributed across the United States and abroad.
His column, “Archbishop’s Notebook,” was widely quoted in the Catholic press especially when he discussed the liturgy. But the archbishop also spoke on many other issues, the war in Vietnam, on the need for open housing in America, on aiding the poor and the Negro, against capital punishment and abortion. He was also known for his support of increasing the role of the laity in the Church and called what it is thought to be the first Lay Congress in the archdiocese. He once said, “This is the day of the laity. They work for the sanctification of the world from within, as a leaven.”
The archbishop received honorary degrees from Notre Dame, Holy Cross, Western Reserve University where he received a Ph.D. in history. Duquesne University and Belmont College, N.C. He also was awarded the Father Edward Sorin Award by Notre Dame.
Tribute from the Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta.