The Rev. William Francis Medley's ordination as bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro takes place this afternoon.
This blog does not ordinarily report news of the Roman Catholic Church, but Father...soon Bishop...Medley's last name caught my eye. In his new diocese, his family is best known for making whiskey.
I don't know Bishop Medley's family background, but he hails from Marion County, Kentucky. He served at several churches in Bardstown, including St. Joseph Proto Cathedral. Most recently he was pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Prospect, a suburb of Louisville.
The Medley family has been in the Bardstown area (Washington, Marion and Nelson Counties) since the early 19th century, when John Medley brought his family there from Maryland. That state had been founded by Lord Baltimore as a haven for English Catholics. Other early Catholic settlers in that part of Kentucky included the Beams, Wathens, Haydens and other prominent names in Kentucky whiskey history. In 1901, George Medley took his branch to Owensboro. Several different Medley-owned or Medley-led distilleries dominated the whiskey industry in Owensboro thereafter until the last one closed down in 1992. That distillery, now called Charles Medley Distillers Kentucky, is trying to make a comeback under new ownership.
The Owensboro Diocese has 79 parishes and approximately 52,000 believers.