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GLEANINGS FROM EARLY CATHOLIC JOURNALS.
COMMUNICATED BY REV. JAMES H. O'DONNELL.
IV. REV. DR. RÉZÉS MISSIONARY VISIT TO MICHIGAN. (Copied by the Catholic Press, Hartford, Conn., December 18, 1830, from
the U. S. Catholic Miscellany.)
“ CINCINNATI, OHIO, Nov. 14, 1830. “The Very Rev. Dr. Rézé returned a few weeks since to Cincinnati from his missionary excursion to the North, quite consoled with his success; having received into the Church about 200 persons, belonging to the different Indian stations through which he passed. In the beginning of July he arrived in the Pottawatamies, who reside at St. Joseph's River. No sooner was it known that a Black Gown (for so they denominated a priest) had arrived among them, than they flocked together in crowds, and encamped around the cabin in which the missionary had taken up his abode. There they remained, as long as his time would allow him to continue at the station. Great numbers expressed a desire to receive baptism without any delay; manifesting, at least, their readiness to profess the religion which former Catholic missionaries had delivered to their fathers. But he could baptize only such as he had time to instruct, and of whose sincerity he had satisfactory evidence from their former regular mode of living. At the close of this religious rite, the principal chiefs convened in council to deliberate on the propriety of selecting an eligible site for the erection of a Catholic chapel. After some discussion on the subject, an elderly chief arose; and addressing his red brethren in authority observed: 'Why do we lose time in needless debate? is not the missionary station ours, and is not that the most suitable place for the Black Gown to take up his residence among us? Buildings are already erected, which will supersede the necessity and
expense of putting up others. Why should we withhold the present establishment from the man to whom we are all agreed to give our confidence, and whom we consider the minister of the Great Spirit, sent to instruct ourselves and our children in the principles of religion?' All immediately acceded to the propriety of this proposal, when they communicated their determination to the reverend gentleman, who, in his turn, requested to be informed of the time in which they would be prepared to receive a priest, who should take charge of the station. One month, was the reply; as it was thought necessary to afford that space of time for the Protestant missionaries to prepare for their departure.
“The day following, the chiefs escorted Mr. Rézé to the missionary station, and intimated their will to the possessors that they should hold themselves in readiness to deliver up the establishment, in one month's time, to the Black Gown, who had accompanied them. They did this in respectful and becoming terms; and the missionaries immediately expressed their readiness to comply. At the expiration of the term agreed upon, the Rev. Stephen Theodore Badin, accompanied by a religious lady of Detroit who is well acquainted with the Indian language, was received in the most friendly manner by the Indians, and welcomed to St. Joseph's. The last accounts from the station were highly gratifying. The reverend missionary is now preparing seventy for the Sacrament of Baptism. Miss Campo, the lady who acts as his interpretress, is justly entitled to the praise of piety, zeal, and heroic courage in the cause to which she has devoted herself for the honor of religion.
“From Detroit Mr. Rézé proceeded to Sault Ste. Marie, where, owing to the short delay of the steamboat, he was prevented from satisfying the pious desire of many of the inhabitants, who importuned him to procure a priest to reside permanently among them. During the short interval, however, he was wholly engaged in giving instructions and administering the Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony to the whites and to the Indians. The Protestants of the place appeared desirous to procure the residence of a priest at the Sault, and made a tender of twenty dollars to assist in defraying his expenses thither. We have reason to believe that their pious wishes will soon be gratified. The Indians residing at the Sault are of the Chippewa nation. Dr. Rézé next proceeded to Mackinaw; here he found a handsome church erected by the Catholics of the island, in which he offered up the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and preached to a numerous and respectable congregation. He continued his route to Green Bay, and commenced the exercises of the mission amongst a grateful people, who received him with the liveliest emotions of joy and satisfaction. One year had elapsed since the Bishop of the diocese had visited them, and encouraged them to persevere in the practice of piety and fervent devotion. The reverend visitor baptized a number of the Menominee Indians, residing at the Bay, who had been previously instructed in the principles of the Catholic religion. Among other Catholics, he found there about one hundred families, the descendants of those who had settled at the Bay during the reign of Louis XIV. They had been visited only three or four times since the discontinuance of the Jesuit missions in those parts. We may truly apply to them the declaration of Our Lord, when He said, “The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. But the Rt. Rev. Bishop, whose spiritual children they are, is making every exertion, within the compass of his power, to supply them with a pastor around whom they and their children may kneel and receive the spiritual comforts of which they have been so long deprived. The time, we trust, is not far distant when a suitable church at the Bay will throw open its doors to receive her Catholic children, and to afford them an opportunity of hearing the sound of the shepherd's voice from the altar of their fathers. He has already stationed the Rev. Mr. Mazzuchelli at Mackinaw, as a central position for the Catholics of that district.
“The Sauks and Fox Indians, inhabiting the country between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi, were at the time among the Pottawatamies, on their way to Canada, to receive their annual presents from the British Government. As soon as they had been informed of the arrival of the Black Gown, they testified their respect by inviting him to witness the war-dance. On the following day, a deputation consisting of eight chiefs waited upon him on behalf of their tribes to inquire into the nature and motives of his visit to those remote parts. When they were informed that his object was entirely of a spiritual nature, they cordially invited him to urge his way into the midst of these nations, for the purpose of projecting means to secure to them and their families the advantages of religious instruction. He learned from them that the principal chief of the body who then waited upon him was a lineal descendant of the sixth generation from the chief who governed the Sauks in Canada at the time the first French vessels arrived upon their shores. They informed him that their fathers spoke in the most exalted terms of the Black Gowns who accompanied the French army; that they were men of astonishing wisdom and goodness. The advancement of the season, and the arrangements previously made for the direction of his missionary labors, would not admit of the Very Reverend gentleman's accepting the invitation to visit the shores of the Mississippi. He was therefore obliged to direct his course to the south.
“From thence he repaired to L'Arbre Croche, the missionary establishment of the Ottawas. He could not withhold the tribute of his surprise on witnessing the religious improvement effected there in a comparatively short time and with such limited means. The Rev. Mr. De Jean had been stationed there little more than twelve months, and six hundred have already been received into the Catholic Church. "Never,' says the Rev. visitor, ‘did I witness more perfect examples of Christian piety and unaffected devotion.' Whilst he remained among them, he baptized one hundred and four. Their church is about fifty feet long by forty feet wide, built by their own hands. During his stay, a party of fifty went out to carry a large tree, which they had cut down, to the church. They ranged themselves on both sides as closely as they could stand, and raising the massive timber, simultaneously with their native yell, they bore it off in triumph to be hewed and placed in the building. Around the church, and at convenient distances, they have already erected twenty comfortable log dwellings. There
are two schools among them, one for boys under the direction of the Rev. Mr. De Jean; and the other for girls, superintended by a religious lady who speaks their language. The number of Catholic children at present in the schools amounts to sixty-four. Mr. De Jean has printed a prayer-book in the Ottawa language for their use. From the pious example and great zeal of those who have already entered the church, we may entertain the pleasing hope that the remainder of the nation will soon bow their necks to the sweet yoke of Christ, by possessing and practising that one true religion which Jesus Christ established on earth and against which He pledged His eternal truth the gates of hell should not prevail. Some of their children accompanied Mr. Rézé to Cincinnati to enjoy the advantages of education on a more extended scale. Not a drop of ardent spirits is ever to be seen among them; and consequently the money which they were accustomed to squander for that bane of social happiness and for foolish silver ornaments, is now appropriated to the far better purpose of procuring decent and comfortable clothing. They refuse to listen to any missionary except the Black Gowns, who, they inform us, effected so much good among their forefathers. One of their reasons for this is somewhat original; but it is marked with native good sense. The ministers, say they, having their children are men like ourselves; but the Black Gowns, disengaged from these material encumbrances, are left perfectly free to devote their whole time and attention to spiritual matters; and in this regard are much better qualified to discharge the duties of the ministry before their Almighty Master, who is a Spirit Himself.
“From L'Arbre Croche Dr. Rézé returned to Detroit. Here he had the pleasure of witnessing the very indefatigable exertions of the Very Rev. Mr. Richard, Vicar-General for the Territory of Michigan, and the Rev. Mr. Kelly. They are obliged to answer all the calls of a large congregation, composed chiefly of French and Irish. A few religious ladies, under the direction of Mr. Richard, are conducting a very laudable institution for the education of young ladies. It was a source of gratification to the Very Rev. visitor to witness the great progress of pure religion in those quarters. A few years ago there were only two