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Hailandiere named Coadjutor – May 17, 1839

In the Fall of 1838, Father Celestine de la Hailanaideré, Vicar General of the Diocese of Vincennes, left for France, seeking more priests and religious for the infant diocese. He was sent by Bishop Brute who was fully aware that his days were numbered. Bishop Brute had been seeking a coadjutor to help him with the heavy burdens of being a frontier bishop. The procedure was to submit three names to the Archbishop of Baltimore as well as to all the American bishops. The bishops and the archbishop would then submit their opinions to Rome and one would usually be chosen from those three names.

At this time, the United States was still considered mission territory and the Sacred Congregation Propaganda directed Rome’s interest in the nascent American Church. These days, we have the Apostolic Nuncio, Christophe Pierre, who ironically was born in Rennes, France, the hometown of Servant of God Simon Brute.

Anyway, back to 1838-39. A number of American bishops were seeking coadjutors. Bishop Rosati of St. Louis had been seeking help for some time, but he had been continually rebuffed by the Propaganda. Yet, Rosati was willing to back the choices of Bishop Brute Fr. Robert Trisco, in his 1962 thesis, “The Holy See and the Nascent Church in the Middle Western United States 1826-1850” wrote:

The Propaganda’s unwillingness to appoint any coadjutor for St. Louis at that time did not deter Rosati from seconding Brute’s own request in 1837; he agreed in proposing Louis Nicholas Petit (S.J.) in first place because of his fluency in English and French among his other qualities. The lack of this ability, on the other hand, led him to question the wisdom of the second nomination, namely, that of Celestine de la Hailanaideré. Four months later at the request of the Archbishop of Baltimore Rosati repeated his views on the three candidates for the coadjutorship of Vincennes; about the second he asserted: “˜Mr. de la Hailanaideré is an excellent priest, of unsullied habits, learned, zealous, etc., but he does not speak English well, and he will never be in a position to know it well enough to preach and defend the faith “” an important matter among us, surrounded as we are by so many sects. This opinion about the French priest was shared by Bishop England; though he was not personally acquainted with him, he remarked that Brute in commending his exceptional virtues did not mention his knowledge of English. Consequently, England concluded that De la Hailanaideré was entirely unsuited for that office. Although Cardinal Fransoni reported these objections of Rosati and England to the general congregation, he attempted to diminish their force by arguing that since De la Hailanaideré was at that time holding the position of vicar-general in the Diocese of Vincennes, he could not be entirely unsuited for that of bishop. In fact, Archbishop Eccleston had declared him perfectly qualified (“˜ omnimode idoneum ‘) in those circumstances. Since the first candidate was already excluded for other reasons, therefore, the Sacred Congregation did not hesitate to appoint De la Hailanaideré coadjutor to Brute. At the same time the Propaganda acceded to Rosati’s persistent petition by naming as his coadjutor John Timon. About both these new bishops more must be said in the following sections ((Trisco, Robert Frederick. 1962. The Holy See and the nascent church in the Middle Western United States, 1826-1850. pp. 86-87))

As we mentioned earlier, Hailanaideré had been sent to Europe to bring back priests and sisters. Whether he was aware of his nomination is not known. Bishop Brute had submitted his list on August 24, 1837. The list included his choices, in order, Nicholas Petit S.J. who had served in both the Vincennes diocese as well as St. Mary’s College in the Bardstown diocese. His name was dropped from the list because of the refusal of the Society of Jesus to release Petit. Brutés second choice was Hailanaideré and the third, Ignatius Reynolds, a Bardstown priest who was opposed by many because of his “Americanism”. In early 1839, Brute was informed that Hailanaideré would probably be the choice, but, of course, Hailanaideré was in Europe. On May 17, 1839, the Papal Bulls were issued naming Hailanaideré as Coadjutor of Vincennes. The plan was for Hailanaideré to leave Europe on August 2, 1839. This had been planned long before. When the ship, named the “Republic” arrived in Havre, it carried word of the death of Brute. Hailanaideré then sent this group on to Vincennes and he went to Paris where he was consecrated as Bishop of Vincennes on August 18, 1839.

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