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Deacons and Sub Deacons

This week, in 1836, ordinations to the Sub-Diaconate and Diaconate took place in the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier, in Vincennes. Those ordained to the Sub-Diaconate, which was the highest “minor order” were, Benjamin Petit, whom many consider a Martyr of Charity, Charles Dumerle1 and Anthony Parret.2 Michael Shawe was ordained a Deacon3

It was on December 18, 1836, just two years after the arrival of Simon Brute, the first Bishop of Vincennes, and just a few months after Brutés return from France with his “recruits”. It was the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Sister Mary Salesia Godecker wrote:

He desired to obtain the services of Bishop Purcell for the ordinations that were to take place on the fourth Sunday in Advent at St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral and hoped the Bishop of Cincinnati would accompany him on his return to Vincennes, His plans met with disappointment. Fathers Montgomery and Junker were away on a business trip to New Orleans, Father Badin had gone to Cleveland where Father Dillon had died and Bishop Purcell was left alone. Under those conditions it was impossible for him to comply with the wishes of Bishop Brute who left Cincinnati on November 25 and returned alone to Vincennes, Following this disappointment the Bishop of Vincennes sent to St. Mary’s, Kentucky, for Father Petit, S. J, However, his Superior found it impossible to spare him and this left the bishop alone to give the retreat and prepare the candidates for ordination. The retreat opened on the third Sunday of Advent and closed on the fourth Sunday with ordinations which elevated Benjamin Petit, Charles Dumerle, and Anthony Parret to the rank of subdeacon and Rev, Michael Shawe to deaconship.4

Click here to view a copy of the original “Liber Ordinationum.


  1. Charles Dumerle was apparently released after his ordination to the priesthood by Bishop Brute to the Jesuits in Kentucky in 1837. His whereabouts after that time is unknown. [Robert Gorman, in an unpublished history of the Diocese of Vincennes] ; Mention of his departure in Godecker [Godecker, Sister Mary Salesia OSB. Simon Brute De Remur, First Bishop of Vincennes”. St. Meinrad Indiana: St. Meinrad Historical Essays, 1931. p.384] []
  2. Anthony Parret was ordained priest on August 15, 1838. He served at the Cathedral in Vincennes and it is known that he was with Brute at his death on June 26, 1839. Apparently he joined the Jesuits sometime around 1844. He died on September 7, 1853 and is buried in the Jesuit cemetery at Spring Hill College in Mobile Alabama. [Death information according to Catholic Clergy in Indiana by William Stineman (1992)] []
  3. Michael Edgar Gordon Shawe (sometimes identified as Michael Edgar Evelyn Shawe) was recruited by Bishop Brute in France while a student at St. Sulpice. Shawe was sent to Madison by Bishop Brute in 1837, the same year as his ordination. His first baptismal entry was dated July 30, 1837. Shawe had been a member of the British Army. Shawe, like so many others, left the Diocese during the time of Bishop Hailandiere. [Shawe went to Detroit with Bishop Lefevre in 1848, and he died in that city on May 10, 1853. Catholic Almanac for 1854, p. 269.] Sources: Richard H. Elliot,”Soldier-Knight-Missionary, St. Michael Edgar Evelyn Shawe,” American Catholic Historical Researches [ACHR], XIV (1897), 50-61. and ACHR, No.15: pp.83, 87, 122, : No.19: pp.163, death of, 14, 61; Bartelme, Simon Brute and the Western Adventure; Brown, The History of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods; Shea, History of the Catholic Church (vol. 3), p.646; []
  4. Simon Brute de Remur, First Bishop of Vincennes, by Sister Mary Salesia Godecker OSB. St. Meinrad, 1931. pp.292ff []
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