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Rev. Anthony (Antoine) Deydier

March 25th marks the anniversary of the ordination of another Indiana Saint, Father Antoine (Anthony) Deydier. His story is somewhat unknown. I’ve never been able to find a picture or painting of him. I want very much to put some information about him out into the world, but I don’t have a lot of it or it is disjointed. Regardless of a lack of details about his life, we know for sure of his dedication to the people of Evansville and the Diocese of Vincennes as well as his dedication to his priesthood. So much so that, in his honor, the Diocese of Evansville established the Deydier House of Discernment

Here are some of the facts of his life. Deydier is one of the unsung heroes of the earliest days of Catholic Church History in Indiana. What is even more amazing is that he was almost 50 years old before he was ordained. We’ve become accustomed, somewhat, to so called late vocations, but in the 1830’s ordaining a man who was 50 years old was almost unheard of.

Deydier came to the United State in 1810 in the company of the newly elected Bishop of Bardstown, Benedict Flaget as well as Fr. Simon Brute, the future Bishop of Vincennes.

In the History of Vanderburgh County it was written:

It was a noticeable feature of the Catholic priesthood in the pioneer days that wherever they found a community, no matter how small or how widely scattered, wherein they could establish a mission, there the cross was erected and the protecting care of the church spread over the inhabitants. No hardship was accounted too severe and no sacrifice too great to stand in the way of the propagation of a religion which they believed to declare the voice and will of God. The first information of any Catholics residing in the vicinity of Evansville, was communicated in the fall of 1836, to the Right Rev. Gabriel Brute, first bishop of Vincennes, by Rev. Father Buteux, and the companions of his journey, who lodged on their arrival here, at the Mansion House, then kept by Francis Linck, a citizen well remembered to this day and esteemed by all the older inhabitants of the city. Mr. Linck, born in 1774, was a native of Stockheim, in Wurtemburg, and in 1836 was the only Catholic in Evansville, except perhaps the late John Walsh. In March, 1837, Very Rev. Father De la Hielandiere, vicar-general of the Rev. Bishop, accompanied by Rev. Father Shawe, visited Evansville with a view of establishing a mission, and on the 3rd day of May, following, Rev. Father Anthony Deydier was dispatched to take charge of the mission. Father Deydier was born in France, April 30, 1788, and was ordained a priest at the cathedral of Vincennes, March 25, 1837. Very few knew that he had reached the full strength of his manhood when he took upon himself holy orders, and was placed in charge of the mission in this city. While here he lived a blameless and well spent life, unobtrusive in his deportment, but with a kind word for all. After almost a year’s residence at the house of Mr. Linck, in January, 1838, he built a lodge room, 10×15 feet size, at the corner of Fifth and Chestnut streets. Here he made his abode, using his little room as a dwelling and for chapel purposes for about three years. For Sabbath day services larger rooms at the homes of Catholics were occasionally used. He labored heroically among his people, did much missionary work in the country adjacent to Evansville, and in 1838 made a successful trip to the east to raise funds for the erection of a church building. The history of Catholicism in Evansville since that time is the history of a wonderful growth. The worthy priest who stood by the church in its infancy, lived to see it become rich and powerful with a numerous priesthood within the territory where he once labored alone – lived to see a sturdy oak grown from the acorn planted by his hands. When old age and increasing infirmities had impaired his usefulness, he retired from the active ministry and, returning to Vincennes, passed the evening of his life in comparative rest, greatly beloved by all who knew him. His death occurred February 11, 1864. 1

There is another web site, called “Ameri Catholic” and they too pay homage to those early missionaries, especially the French. They wrote:

Born in France (perhaps Alsace and Lorraine where this surname is common), in 1788, he entered the Seminary of St. Sulpice, where he follows the likely course of Abbot Simon Brute de Rémur, later Bishop of Vincennes (Indiana) who taught theology since 1808. In all cases, it is with the abbots Brute Guy Chabrat Derigaud Jacques, Julian Bishop Benedict Flaget Romeuf and, while the new bishop of Bardstown (Kentucky) came to France to recruit priests and seminarians, he sailed from Bordeaux the United States June 10, 1810. Ordained deacon in 1812, he refused the priesthood and taught for four years at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg (Maryland) where the priest teaches Brute. These past four years, we find him at Albany (New York) as a tutor. But, without doubt, the discussions he had with Father Brute at Mount St. Mary’s, make him reconsider his denial of the priesthood since March 25, 1837, he was ordained priest by Bishop Brute, of Vincennes first ordinary (since 1834), in the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier in this city. Upon his ordination, this late vocation, is sent in November 1837, in Evansville (Indiana) where he stayed until 1859, except for a tour he performed in September 1838 to raise the money for the diocese, accompanied by a young Ann (Nancy) Brown the novitiate of the Sisters of Charity of Emmitsburg, and an itinerant ministry in Gibson County (Indiana) from 1838 to 1840. In 1838 he began construction of the Assumption Church, the first Catholic Church in Evansville, even to monitor the manufacture of bricks – and it was today, the Feast of the Assumption, the opportunity to report this church is that Father Deydier had built: it was razed in 1872. 2

Perhaps one of the oddest things that I have found about Fr. Deydier is a newspaper story, from the Evansville Press, dated June 11, 1933. The story says that Deydier Deydier walked from Mexico to Evansville There is no indication as to what Fr. Deydier was doing in Mexico. I have never seen this story previously.

Please pray for and ASK for the prayers of Fr. Deydier

  1. History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana: from the earliest times to the present[]
  2. Catholic Ameri History and news of Catholicism in the United States By Daniel Hamiche[]

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