Bishop Vincent Joseph McCauley was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on March 8, 1906, the oldest of six children. He attended St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Council Bluffs and Creighton Prep in Omaha, graduating in 1924. He attended Creighton University for a year.
In 1924, a Holy Cross mission team came to Council Bluffs, changing McCauley’s direction in life. He entered the University of Notre Dame in 1926 after one year of candidacy and the Novitiate. He graduated in 1930 and moved to Washington, D.C., where he attended the Holy Cross Foreign Missionary Seminary. He was ordained on June 24, 1934. McCauley was initially assigned to teach at Our Lady of Holy Cross College in North Dartmouth (later North Easton), Mass., while simultaneously studying English at Boston College.
In October 1936, McCauley joined the Holy Cross apostolate in Bengal (now Bangladesh), working with the Garos at Bandhura, serving for several years as the Rector of Little Flower Minor Seminary. In 1944, after becoming sick, McCauley was evacuated by U.S. military transport. After his recovery, he was assigned as Superior of the Foreign Mission Seminary and guided its operations for six years. He then traveled and preached about and raising money for the Holy Cross mission in Bengal.
In early 1958, McCauley was asked by Provincial Superior Rev. Theodore Mehling, C.S.C., to investigate expansion of Holy Cross’ missionary effort. In November 1958, Fr. McCauley journeyed to western Uganda to initiate the Congregation’s mission in East Africa. He spearheaded a mission that undertook the establishment, renovation and strengthening of parish churches and schools throughout western Uganda. In 1961, the Holy See established the Diocese of Fort Portal and named McCauley as Bishop of the northern part. As Bishop, he built the Fort Portal diocese from the ground-up, founding numerous parishes and diocesan structures, along with St. Mary’s Minor Seminary for local priestly formation.
Bishop McCauley served the diocese for 10 years. He was active in the Uganda Episcopal Conference, serving as Chairman and Vice Chairman and was Chairman of other various commissions. He was a founding member of the Uganda Joint Christian Council. Remembered for his compassion and leadership, Bishop McCauley guided the Church in aiding countless refugees, widows, orphans and migrants in East African during the 1960s and ‘70s. He resigned as Bishop in 1972.
In early 1973, Bishop McCauley moved to Nairobi and assumed the position of Secretary General of the Association Members of Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, a group he chaired from 1964 to 1973. He oversaw its expansion from five countries to seven and undertook significant projects for religious education, outreach to nomads and refugees and other initiatives to promote ecumenism, laity and women religious. Bishop McCauley served as Secretary General until 1979.
Until his death on Nov. 1, 1982, Bishop McCauley continued to serve AMECEA. His support for the foundation of the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa, today known as Catholic University of Eastern Africa, was significant.
Bishop McCauley suffered severe health problems for much of his adult life, but continued to work actively as a priest. Beginning in 1956 until his death, he underwent more than 55 surgeries for a variety of illnesses, including cancer, which left his face badly disfigured.
In August 2006, the cause for canonization of Bishop McCauley, C.S.C. was introduced in the Congregation of Saints. As “Servant of God” Bishop McCauley’s is continuing to be reviewed by the Diocese of Fort Portal.
Learn more about Servant of God Bishop McCauley on the Congregation of Holy Cross’ website.