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Missionary Bishop

Jean-Marie Odin in Galveston and New Orleans

Gilbert R. Cruz

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

Series: Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University

Front Cover

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pp. 1-9


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

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 kingdom. France came to be known as the “Eldest Daughter of the Church,” a prestigious title among the emerging nations of Christendom. ...

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pp. xv-xvi

In the narrative of the growth of the Roman Catholic religion in the United States many personages who played unique roles through their inspiration in building the faith among the people have emerged as heroes or heroines. Nowhere is this more true than in Texas and Louisiana. ...

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1. From France He Came

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pp. 1-12

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 centuries- old Roman Catholic heritage during those difficult years was the ancient Archdiocese of Lyon. ...

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2. At the Barrens

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pp. 13-24

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 following his arrival at that southern port city: ...

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3. Missouri and Arkansas: A Prelude to Texas

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pp. 25-32

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 ...

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4. Odin and the Emerging American Vincentian Presence

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pp. 33-42

The 1830s in the narrative of the Vincentians in America are seen as a memorable decade. Along with the growth of the Vincentian presence 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, ...

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5. The Call to Texas

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pp. 43-51

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. ...

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6. Send Us Some Priests

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pp. 52-58

In the spring of 1837, other events had begun to unfold that would eventually 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. ...

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7. On the Shoulders of Odin

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pp. 59-69

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. ...

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8. A Vice Prefect Apostolic Arrives

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pp. 70-82

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. ...

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9. The Mission beyond San Antonio

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pp. 83-94

It had been a challenging August for Father Odin and his Vincentians 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. ...

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10. He Is to Be Vicar Apostolic

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pp. 95-102

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 February 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 ...

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11. A Missionary Still

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pp. 103-111

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, ...

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12. The Search for Priests and Nuns

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pp. 112-125

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. ...

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13. Back from Europe

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pp. 126-131

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. ...

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14. Bishop of Galveston

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pp. 132-146

“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 ...

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15. Adieu, Texas

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pp. 147-154

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. ...

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16. New Orleans, the Civil War and Reconstruction, Then Home

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pp. 155-168

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, ...


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pp. 169-188


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pp. 189-194


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pp. 195-206

E-ISBN-13: 9781603449946
E-ISBN-10: 1603449949
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603448246

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