Shaw, John William (1863–1934)

By: Steven P. Ryan, S.J.

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: July 1, 1995

John William Shaw, fourth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of San Antonio, was born on December 12, 1863, in Mobile, Alabama, to Patrick and Elizabeth (Smith) Shaw. Upon completion of his early education in his native city, he attended the diocesan seminary of Navan in County Meath, Ireland. He studied at the North American College in Rome from 1882 to 1888 and was ordained at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome on May 26, 1888, by Lucindo Cardinal Parochi. Upon returning to the Diocese of Mobile, Shaw served as a parish priest and as rector of Immaculate Conception Cathedral. In 1898 he was made chancellor of the Diocese of Mobile, an office he held until his move to Texas. The illness of Bishop John A. Forest of San Antonio necessitated the selection of an interim administrator and eventual successor. Archbishop James Blenk of New Orleans consecrated Shaw auxiliary bishop of San Antonio on April 14, 1910, in Mobile. Shaw was subsequently appointed administrator of the Texas diocese on May 18, 1910. Upon Forest's death, Shaw became the fourth bishop of San Antonio, on March 11, 1911. His first project was a visitation of the extensive diocese, during which he crossed much of the rugged Trans-Pecos and Big Bend areas in a covered wagon. Notable accomplishments of his tenure include the founding of St. John's Seminary in 1915, and the reopening of long-neglected Spanish missions. The latter marked the first steps toward restoration of the spiritual and historical landmarks since the Civil War. On January 25, 1918, Bishop Shaw was appointed archbishop of New Orleans, a position he held until his death, on November 2, 1934.

Sister M. Bonaventure Palmer, C.C.V.I., Bishop John William Shaw and the Diocese of San Antonio (M.A. thesis, Catholic University of America, 1960). San Antonio Express, November 3, 1934. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Religion
  • Catholic

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Steven P. Ryan, S.J. , “Shaw, John William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995