James Augustine Healy was the first African-American Roman Catholic priest and first African-American Roman Catholic bishop in the United States. Father Healy was the eldest of 10 siblings born near Macon, Georgia in 1839 to an Irish immigrant plantation owner and his wife, an African American former slave.
In 1866 Healy became the pastor of St. James Church, the largest Catholic congregation in Boston. Pope Pius IX named him as the second bishop of Portland, Maine. For 25 years, he governed his large diocese, supervising also the founding of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, when it was cut off from Portland in 1885. During his time in Maine Healy oversaw the establishment 60 new churches, 68 missions, 18 convents and 18 schools.