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Making it real

When studying Indiana Catholic history, it can all seem so very far away. Sometimes it becomes too academic and we forget that these people, places and things were, and in many cases still are, real. That’s why it is good to go, for example, to Vincennes and visit the”Old Cathedral”, or stand inside St. Joseph’s in Terre Haute and know that the”First” priest of the diocese, Simon Lalumiere is buried under the floor. Or visit the former site of St. Vincent’s Orphanage in Vincennes and pay homage to Anthony Deydier, a man who wasn’t ordained until he was 49 years old, and who used to walk to many of the missions in and around Evansville while sleeping on the ground, under trees.

In 1835, Simon Brute, the new Bishop of Vincennes went to his native France to ask for money, prayers and help for his Church in Indiana. In the summer of 1836, he returned to Indiana with 19 missionaries. Their names are known to those who know our collective history.FranicsDepau Names like de la Hailandiere, St. Palais, Corbe, Petit. Two of them would become bishops of the diocese. One would minister to Saint Mother Theodore and her band of brave sisters. Another would minister to the Pottawatomi Indians who were ruthlessly forced from their lands.

When they left France, they sailed aboard the”Francis Depau, captained by Cleaveland Alexander Forbes (1780-1857). Ironically, the ship almost did not make the trip. There was a collision a few months before and the Francis Depau was thought to be totaled. It was discovered that the ship was salvageable and it made this trip with Bishop Brute and the 19 missionaries.

I recently found a ship’s passenger list for the ship, the”Francis Depau” which sailed from LeHavre, France to New York. The passenger list shows the names of those onboard. brutelist-image2The image shows the last page (of seven pages). The first three names were others listed as”Half Passengers”

According to Sr. Mary Salesia Godecker, in her book, Simon Brute: First Bishop of Vincennes”

“This band of missionaries embarked on June 1, 1836″¦ The passage was remarkably stormy and lasted 52 days. On one occasion the tempest was so violent that the passengers believed the vessel would be engulfed. They fell on their knees and Bishop Brute gave them general absolution.”

This was”reality” and we give thanks to God for Simon Brute and his band of missionaries.


Categories: Postings.