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Anthony Foucher

Sins of Omission…
Over the years that this site has been in existence, I have only occasionally mentioned the earliest years of the Catholic Church in Indiana. Most of this content has dealt with the time after the establishment of the Diocese of Bardstown, Kentucky in 1808. However, I have, for the most part, failed to mention the fact that European settlers began to arrive in the 1670’s.

I write often about the “first” priest of the diocese (Simon Lalumieré, a native of Vincennes), or the first Bishop, Simon Brute, of course. But I have never written about the first native born (Indiana) person to be ordained to the priesthood. That man would be Anthony (Antoine) Foucher. Foucher was born near the city of LaFayette, at the time, Fort Ouiatenon on the 22nd of July, 1741. He was ordained on the 30th of October, 1774, for the diocese of Quebec, of which Indiana was a part. 1

The web site “New Advent” says:

Until 1734 Father St. Pe was in charge and his successor was Father Du Jaunay. In 1719 at Fort Ouiatenon on the Wabash below the present Lafayette, then at Fort Miami where Fort Wayne now stands, and finally in 1733 at Poste au Ouabache (later and still known as Vincennes),fouchersign Jesuit missionaries were established almost continuously down to 1763. On 22 July, 1741, at Fort Ouiatenon was born a child, Anthony Foucher, who was destined to be the first native of the State to receive Holy orders. Ouiatenon was the head of navigation for the largest pirogues. Here all peltries destined for Canada were transferred to canoes. This made it an important rendezvous. As many as 20,000 skins a year are said to have been shipped from Ouiatenon in 1720 and the decade following. Yet not a vestige of this post remains “” not even a stone upon a stone. From that point of time, until the battle of Tippecanoe (1811) marked the close of serious Indian warfare, there were only visiting priests at Vincennes and Fort Wayne. Confirmation was first administered at Vincennes about 1814 by the Bishop of Bardstown. Communicants were mostly of French origin, remnants of the early days of French sovereignty. 2

Father Foucher is listed in a directory called the “Record of Canadian clergy, in chronological order since the founding of the colony to the present day / by Bishop Cyprien Tanguay Montreal: Eusebe Senecal & son, printers, publishers, 1893. xiii, 526, XLVI p.3 Here is a “loose” english translation:

FOUCHER, Antoine, 11th at Wiats post, Illinois, the 22 July 1741, son of Jean-Baptiste Foucher, and Marie-Louise Lefebvre; ordained 30 October 1774; 1778, cure of Saint-Henri De Mascouche; 1795, de Sainte-Anne-La-Pocaticre; 1806, De Lachenaie; he died in Lachenaie, on June 12, 1812, aged 71. 4

And so, we keep Fr. Foucher in mind and in prayers, asking him to do the same for the Church in Indiana…

  1. See: Blanchard, Vol-1, p.141[]
  4. Page 140 (PDF Page-150) of the Clergy Listing []

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