Publication Year: 2013
In 1822 a young French missionary priest arrived in America, where he would devote the rest of his life to the mission field on behalf of the Catholic Church. Jean-Marie Odin served first in Missouri and Arkansas, then in 1840 moved to Texas, becoming the first Bishop of Galveston in 1847. He held that office until 1861, when he became Archbishop of New Orleans.
The twenty years he served in Texas were important years in the life of the young republic-turned-state. His life and career during this period allow readers to view, in the words of this book’s foreword, “French missionaries and their collaborators treading the almost limitless Texas landscape to serve encampments of settlers and to preach the Gospel in English, French, Spanish, and German.”
His decade in New Orleans during the Civil War and Reconstruction spans a period of immense importance to America, the region, and the Roman Catholic Church. Finally, in 1870, Odin returned to Hauteville, France, and died in the same home in which he had been raised.
The role of the church in those turbulent times is revealed through the life and ministry of Jean-Marie Odin.
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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...on Christmas Day 499, King Clovis of the Franks professed his belief in Christianity, and Saint Remigius, bishop of Rheims, baptized him. The Catholic monarch’s fervent act of faith permeated the subjects of his king-dom. France came to be known as the “Eldest Daughter of the Church,” a prestigious title among the emerging nations of Christendom. This title was not entirely without merit. Over the centuries, the Eldest Daughter served in the Crusades, a notable feat for those times. France hosted the Successor of ...
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...in the narrative of the growth of the Roman Catholic religion in the United States many personages who played unique roles through their inspi-ration in building the faith among the people have emerged as heroes or heroines. Nowhere is this more true than in Texas and Louisiana. In these two lands that matured from the colonial era to become states of the United States, no name stands out more honored and respected than that of the French-born Vincentian missionary priest, bishop, and archbishop, Jean-Marie Odin. ...
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...the nineteenth century dawned over France recoiling from the recent upheavals associated with the French Revolution that had devastated the country and the 1799 coup d’état of Napoleon Bonaparte. Among the regions of the land known for having remained faithful to the realm’s centu-ries-old Roman Catholic heritage during those difficult years was the ancient Archdiocese of Lyon. The historical narrative of this metropolitan see had its origins dating back to the early days of Christianity, to even before the inspir-...
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...the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to New Orleans on the ship Highlander was long and arduous for Jean-Marie Odin and his fellow passengers and took more than two months to complete. Jean-Marie described the passage in a letter written to his mere and pere shortly follow-ing his arrival at that southern port city: “On July 11, after a voyage of two months and three days, we entered the port of New Orleans. The first thirty days of our sailing were rather pleasant; then for an entire week we were buf-...
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...odin’s yearning for missionary adventures was soon to be fulfilled after his ordination. With Timon accompanying him whenever possible, Odin plunged into a regular schedule of visiting the Catholics living in and around the vicinity of the Barrens Seminary. His earliest rounds were made to the small settlements of Apple Creek—situated south of the Bar-rens Colony—Silverlake, and Crosstown.1 Foremost on Odin’s agenda was to bring to those Catholics, many of whom had not seen a priest for years, the ...
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...the 1830s in the narrative of the Vincentians in America are seen as a memorable decade. Along with the growth of the Vincentian pres-ence in the United States and the maturation of the Congregation of the Mission to the status of becoming a notable Catholic religious community in the nation during that ten-year period, Jean-Marie Odin was becoming more prominent among Catholic churchmen of the country. He was also being immersed in frontier evangelistic life in a manner that was to prove invaluable ...
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...the spring of 1837 found Father Jean-Marie Odin still stationed at Cape Girardeau as pastor of the new St. Vincent de Paul Church. A synopsis of the story of the Catholic presence at “the Cape” during that period would reveal that five years earlier Father Timon had celebrated the first Mass on the site. He had done so in secret due to a strong anti-Catholic sentiment that dominated the settlers of the locale. By 1836, however, enough Catholics had migrated into the vicinity to warrant a resident pastor being assigned there. ...
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...in the spring of 1837, other events had begun to unfold that would eventu-ally draw Father Jean-Marie Odin to Texas. At New Orleans a small band of Irish Catholics from the Lone Star Republic had gathered to purchase building materials for use back home in repairing their residences, which were damaged during the Texas war for independence from Mexico during 1835–36. Those settlers authorized John Joseph Linn of Victoria, Texas, to write a letter over their signatures to “Archbishop Samuel Eccleston and the Bishops ...
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...in the fall-winter of 1838–39 two events occurred that affected Jean-Marie Odin. First, there was the unexpected death of a young confrere at the Barrens Seminary, Father Francis Simonin, on September 15, 1838.1 Then three months later came Timon and Llebaria’s excursion into Texas. The pass-ing away of Father Simonin touched Odin deeply, but the Timon-Llebaria tour had a more lasting impact by changing his future as a missionary priest dramatically. The culmination of what Timon saw firsthand as the needs of ...
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July weather on the Texas Gulf Coast is regularly hot and humid, with relief from the heat coming mainly with breezes from the sea or rains that intermittently appear and temper the heat somewhat. It was early in the morning on just such a warm and humid Monday, July 13, 1840, that Odin and his Spanish Vincentian confreres first stepped ashore on Texas soil, at Linnville. After arriving the night before aboard Captain Auld’s ship Henry, the Vincentians and other passengers had made preparations for disembarking ...
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...it had been a challenging August for Father Odin and his Vincen-tians in San Antonio. As the weeks passed and summer gave way to fall, Odin, Calvo, and Sala began to sense a flame of religious fervor igniting once again among the Bexar city’s Catholic population. September was marked by the appearance of rains and hope for milder temperatures. With October and November would come the Indian summer so well known to that area of the Lone Star Republic. Perhaps the expected pleasant weather might be seen ...
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...“Father Timon started for Natchitoches and I went to Mr. McDonald’s, four miles from San Augustine on the Irish Bayou. . . I baptized and catechized,” Odin wrote in his daily journal on Febru-ary 8, 1841.1 That stopover at the home of Donald McDonald was just the first of several such evangelizing initiatives that the missionary from France made during his thirty-two-day itinerary from San Augustine back to San Antonio de Bexar. His journal entries covering the period of the trek consistently high-...
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From Rome, on July 31, 1841, Cardinal Fransoni dispatched a letter to Jean-Marie Odin informing him of Pope Gregory XVI’s naming him vicar apostolic of Texas and bishop of Claudiopolis in partibus infidelium. Fransoni enclosed in his mailing, by way of Bishop Blanc at New Orleans, for transmittal on to Odin, the papal bull erecting Texas a vicariate apostolic and the materials formalizing Odin’s appointment. In his comments to Odin the cardinal indicated that the Frenchman was expected to accept the nomination ...
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By the mid-1840s it had become apparent to any number of persons within the Catholic Church’s inner circles that the region making up the Lone Star Republic, soon to be annexed by the United States as that nation’s twenty-eighth state, was destined in the near future to be raised to the ecclesiastical status of a diocese. It appeared likely also that Jean-Marie Odin would be named the bishop to head up the anticipated new diocese. While the site of the episcopal see city (diocesan seat) for the expected bishopric was left ...
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...after an uneventful ocean voyage of slightly more than two weeks, the Great Western docked in New York on April 27. Jean-Marie Odin had arrived back in the United States fatigued from his many months of travel and recruiting but content with the promising results of his trip. Soon he would be back in his beloved Texas. Since 1840 Odin had been laboring to revitalize Catholic life in the vicariate apostolic. But now, he realized, it was time to start building for the future, to lay a foundation for the deepening of ...
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...“i am positively going to begin the new church which we so greatly need.” This promise Odin penned to Bishop Blanc from Galveston on April 18, 1847, affirming his determination to start construction on the new St. Mary’s Church in the Texas bay city. A French émigré architect, Theodore E. Giraud, developed the design of St. Mary’s and would oversee its being built.1 But, as the story was to unfold, the new edifice would be dedicated a year and a half later as more than a parish church. It would be the cathedral ...
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...in the summer of 1858, Jean-Marie Odin had no way of knowing that within just a little more than two years he would have departed his adopted Texas to head up the Archdiocese of New Orleans, an assignment that was to consume the remaining nine years of his earthly life. But the Frenchman’s final thirty months as bishop of Galveston marked the apex of that diocese’s early ecclesiastical development. The cornerstone of this was Odin’s convening of the see’s first diocesan synod in 1858. With the calling of the synod the future ...
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...on Pentecost Sunday of 1861 (May 19) Jean-Marie Odin arrived in New Orleans to take up the hierarchical reigns of the archdiocese as chief pastor. He, however, already longed for his beloved Texas. As he lamented in a letter mailed back to Father Anstaett in the Lone Star State just a few days after his disembarkation at the bayou city, on May 23, “I wanted to write you a short letter, but since my arrival in New Orleans I have not had a moment to myself. From Mass until sunset visits follow each other without interruption. ...
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Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 6 b&w photos. Bib. Index.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University