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Interesting connections

I recently discovered a web site within the confines of the University of Notre Dame. It deals with one of my favorite people, Father Benjamin Petit, the young French priest who was ordained by Bishop Brute, and who accompanied the Potawatomi indians on their “Trail of Death”. The web site deals with (among other things) the removal of Petit’s body from the the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame, to the old Log Chapel in 1987. (The Spirit of Notre Dame).

I discovered two things. First, for some unknown reason, Fr. Petit and Fr. Louis DeSeille were buried in the same coffin. Secondly, and more importantly, there is a rather striking set of circumstances connecting a number of people and events.

First, let me begin with Bishop Brute. He was, of course, the spiritual director of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Bishop Brut├ęs own cause for sainthood was begun by Archbishop Daniel Beuchlein last year. Bishop Brute began the process of finding a religious order of women to come to Indiana. His successor, Bishop Hailandiere, secured the help of the Sisters of Providence. Of course the rest of the story concerning the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods has been in the press a great deal of late. Bishop Hailandiere’s inability to delegate just about anything, led to a great deal of tension with St. Mother Theodore. That, however, is another story.

It was this same Bishop Hailandiere who, at the direction of Bishop Brute, began a search for a religious order of men to come to the wilderness of Indiana. Once again, after Brute died in 1839, Hailandiere was able to convince the Congregation of the Holy Cross to come to the Diocese of Vincennes. Originally, Hailandiere wanted to establish their presence in the area that was known as “Black Oak Ridge”, at St. Peter’s which is near the present day town of Washington Indiana. Later on it was decided that Fr. Sorin would go to the area of what is now Notre Dame.

The next connection is with that of Fr. Benjamin Petit, already mentioned above. He had been given permission to accompany the Potawatomi Indian tribe, to whom he had been ministering, on their forced removal from Indiana to Kansas. Fr. Petit, who died on his return journey, was returned to Notre Dame in 1857. The Indians ended up in Osawatamie, Kansas. It was there that the Potawatomi were helped by St. Rose Phillipine Duchesne who referred to her as the “Woman-Who-Prays-Always”!! Talk about coming full circle!!

Here are a few links:


Categories: Postings.