Saturday, May 3, 2014

20 April 1842 - Jesuits return to Canada


Today in 1842, Peter Chazelle was named Superior as the Jesuits returned to Canada.  Chazelle was an outstanding and enterprising pioneer, who stood out amongst that 'refounding' generation of  Jesuits after the Universal Restoration of the Society in 1814. Chazelle  served for a fruitful fourteen years in Louisiana, Kentucky, Montreal, Toronto and Wisconsin, laying the foundations for four provinces. A key moment in his apostolate (before arriving in Canada) was when he accepted St Marys seminary near Bardstown Kentucky from a secular priest and turned into a Jesuit School.

The success of this mission in Kentucky turned out to be a  stepping stone into New York.  Following an invitation from Bishop John Hughes, Chazelle was asked to take over th e running of ST Johns College which he sat up in the Fordham area above New York City.   This gave the Jesuits their most important centrer on the Atlantic seaboard from which to expand, thirty three years after Kohlmann closed his New York Literary Institution.   After these successes Chazelle was invited by the Bishop of Montreal (Bourget) to conduct a retreat for eighty three priests.  On the back of this retreat Bishop Bourget received requests from all sides for a return of the black robes to Canada.

The Bishop wrote his famous Appeal to the Jesuits in 1841 and sent it to Fr General Roothans.  Invoking memories of the heroism of Brebeuf and Jogues, he requested the return of the French Jesuits to the land of St Lawrence.  In response Chazelle led a party of six priests and three brothers.  They created new mission posts, and more and more Jesuits followed in Chazelles footsteps and extended the Church's presence into the great wilds of Canada.  By 1907, Fr General Wernz set up the Canadian Province which by 1914 numbered almost 400 men. 

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