October 26: +John Dominique LaMothe (1928)

John Dominique LaMothe was a missionary bishop of Honolulu (Hawaii). The Episcopal Church in Hawaii had its origins in 1862 when King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma, devout members of the Church of England, established the Church of Hawaii. The King and Queen supported the Church’s establishment throughout the islands with gifts of land, and by the founding of churches, schools, and hospitals. With the overthrow in 1893 of Queen Liliuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, jurisdiction of the Church of Hawaii was given to American Episcopalians. Because it was a missionary district and not yet a diocese, bishops were chosen by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. John D. LaMothe became the second American missionary bishop of Honolulu in 1921 and served until his death in 1928.

Bishop LaMothe was born on the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. At age 17, his father sent him to the United States to work on a farm in Virginia for the purpose of making him “more robust.” After a year, LaMothe went to Wyoming to work on a ranch. He later returned to Virginia and under the direction of Bishop John Poyntz Tyler, entered Virginia Seminary in 1869. After his ordination, LaMothe served in several parishes until 1901 when he came to Epiphany as an assistant minister under rector Randolph McKim. Leaving after an initial three years, he was so well regarded, he was recalled for a second round of service, and at an annual salary of $1800 became Epiphany’s first associate rector. Positions at St. Paul’s, New Orleans and Ascension, Baltimore followed until his election to the episcopate. While attending the 1928 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., Bishop LaMothe fell ill and died. He was buried in Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia.

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