Archbishop Moses Elias Kiley

Most Reverend Moses Elias Kiley, S.T.D.Most Reverend Moses Elias Kiley, S.T.D.
1940 - 1953

Moses Elias Kiley was born on November 13, 1876, in Margaree, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He was ordained a priest on June 10, 1911, in Rome. Kiley’s studies for priesthood in Rome left him with a strong sense of central authority, which he brought to Milwaukee.

Before coming to Milwaukee, Kiley served in Chicago as an associate pastor in a Chicago parish and director of a mission for homeless men. There he gained the attention of Archbishop Mundelein who taught him the skills needed to be a bishop.

In the 1920s, Kiley was appointed the spiritual director of the North American College in Rome. His experience on several curial commissions earned him an appointment as the bishop of Trenton, New Jersey. After six years in Trenton, Kiley was chosen to head the Archdiocese of Milwaukee after Archbishop Samuel Stritch was transferred to Chicago. He was consecrated to the episcopacy on March 28, 1940.

The diocese celebrated its centennial under Kiley in 1943. Due to the centennial celebration, he was charged with restoring the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, which had been gutted by a major fire in 1935.

Kiley also rebuilt the St. Aemillian orphanage, which had also suffered major fire damage in the 1930s. Additionally, he renovated Saint Francis Seminary, and converted Pio Nono High School into Saint Francis Minor Seminary. Despite these changes, however, the budget-minded Kiley was reluctant to spend money on other projects, which left a large task for his successor.

The Second World War marked Kiley’s episcopacy, as chaplains were needed for the millions entering the armed forces. About 25,000 Catholics from the archdiocese joined the Armed Forces, and 30 priests from the archdiocese volunteered as chaplains.

In a period also marked by a surge in Catholic devotionalism, the growing number of Catholic families led Kiley to establish a Catholic Family Life Bureau in 1948.

Archbishop Kiley was eventually immobilized by his deteriorating health, and Auxiliary Bishop Roman Atkielski took on more of his duties. Kiley died on April 15, 1953, in Milwaukee.

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