Archbishop Francis J. L. Beckman

Archbishop Francis J. L. Beckman was the sixth Bishop of the Dubuque diocese, (1930-1946). He was ordained June 20, 1902, appointed Bishop of Lincoln in December 1923, and was apostolic administrator of Omaha from June 1, 1926 to July 4, 1928. Bishop Beckman was elevated to Archiepiscopal Dignity and transferred to Dubuque on January 17, 1930.

The diocesan publication, The Witness, stated that "Archbishop Beckman has faith in organizations... and has organized every sort of activity in the diocese". Having begun his leadership shortly after the Stock Market crash in October 1929, he organized the archdiocesan bureau of charities and encouraged growth of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The first archdiocesan meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Women was held under his direction in October of 1932.

Aware that Dubuque was to a large extent a rural diocese, Archbishop Beckman sought to have farmers solve their problems in the light of Christian teachings by organizing a local division of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. In October 1932, he invited the national convention to meet in Dubuque.

Archbishop Beckman founded the Catholic Students' Mission Crusade while he was rector of St. Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati. The organization had grown to over 1 million members by the time he arrived in Dubuque. In August of 1935 he sponsored the national convention of the Catholic Students' Mission Crusade in Dubuque.

His zeal to advocate devotion to the Eucharist prompted him to promote Archdiocesan pilgrimages to national Eucharistic Congresses, in New Orleans in 1938 and Minneapolis in 1941. He eventually became the national chaplain of the Confraternity of Pilgrims. In March 1940, he announced the establishment of the Men's Nocturnal Adoration Society.

Archbishop Beckman had a strong commitment to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. "Viewing with alarm the disintegration of family life, he sought a remedy through the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who had promised St. Margaret Mary that He would protect any home where He was honored. In his effort to counteract the secularistic spirit of our age, he urged the consecration of priests and people in a special manner to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Enthroning Him solemnly in the homes and renewing through daily prayers by the family this allegiance to Christ, the King of Kings and the sole hope of salvation for mankind. His intense devotion to the Sacred Heart seems to have been singularly recognized by God who called him to Himself on the feast day of St. Margaret Mary." The Witness, Nov. 1948

Due to failing health, he resigned from his duties as Archbishop on November 11, 1946. During his episcopate, he dedicated four churches, raised six to the status of a parish, opened three elementary schools, and personally ordained 133 of the 156 archdiocesan young men to the priesthood. During World War II he sent 41 chaplains for service into the United States with the armed forces. Archbishop Beckman died at Alexian Brothers' Hospital, Chicago, on October 17, 1948. (Information compiled from "Seed/Harvest" and the Archdiocese of Dubuque archives office.)


"I, Francis Joseph L. Beckman, being of sound mind, do hereby make this my last will and testament. ... I commend my soul to God, leaving my body to be buried next to my reverend predecessors in the See of Dubuque, as simply and as inexpensively as possible. I go to my Father in heaven, to the embrace of his son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my King of love to receive the kiss of God, the Holy Spirit by whom I was signed and sealed as Priest and Bishop of His Church. ... I accept my death in whatever time, place, and manner it may come as an act of homage, love and devotion to my God. .... I ask the priests whom I loved so much to take the occasion of my death to renew their priestly life, ever to live and 'grow in the grace that is in them by the imposition of hands,' ever more to be transformed into Him in their Mass, to be assimilated unto Him in their Communions, to become 'living chalices' overflowing with Him, to show Jesus to the people in their lives, words and works."

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