Biography: John O'Grady

Born in Dublin, Ireland, O'Grady emigrated to the U.S. after receiving holy orders in Dublin. Originally assigned to the diocese of Omaha, he was sent to The Catholic University of America for further education, whether he received his PhD in Sociology and Economics in 1915. O'Grady assisted his mentor, Msgr. Kerby, in organizing the first National Council of Catholic Charities conferences in 1912 and 1914. In 1915, O'Grady completed second degree in labor economics at CUA, and began teaching in the sociology department. O'Grady was appointed secretary of the Committee on Reconstruction for the National Catholic War Council in 1918, at the close of World War I. In 1920, however, O'grady was named Executive Secretary of the National Council of Catholic Charities, a position he held until 1961. During his tenure, O'Grady was instrumental in the professionalization of Catholic social services, replacing volunteer leaders with trained social workers. He also championed various political measures for social justice, lobbying for widespread social reform based on Catholic principles: he supported New Deal legislation, the Social Security Act, child welfare, housing legislation, and a liberal immigration policy. From 1934 to 1938, he served as Dean of the newly founded National Catholic School of Social Work at CUA. Following World War II, O'Grady was active in the resettlement of displaced persons and refugees. He fought against the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, despite its support from the NCWC. Msgr. O'Grady was commended by Pope John XXIII for his leadership in the cause of social justice, especially his work in community housing projects for minorities. He retired from the NCCC in 1961, and died in 1966.