Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fr. De Smet, S.J. Apostle of the Rocky Mountains . Sunday, 30th November, 2014 1st Sunday of Advent.

The Life Of Father De Smet, S.J. Apostle of the Rocky Mountains.


Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J.  1801-1873

"The white man whose tongue does not lie."


Introduction and Background


Father Pierre De Smet was a 19th century Jesuit missionary who worked with Native Americans in the United States and its territories for most of his life. 

Childhood and Youth 


He was born in Belgium in 1801, one of 22 children, and from his childhood, according to his brother, Francis, "he was endowed with a strong and vigorous constitution; he was hardy, adventurous, and indifferent to danger, and yet withal of a nature at once affectionate, gentle, and generous."  This all fitted him for the role he was destined by Providence to fill.


As a boy he had a pronounce taste for games and athletics.   The more violent and dangerous, the more they seemed to appeal to him.   Frequently he was seen climbing a tree and then and then rapidly  descending  by swinging from one limb to another, but more often than not, he could be found hazarding a long leap between boats that were brought almost to the door of his father's house by a small arm of the Schelde.  


On one of these occasions a false step precipitated him in the water and almost cost him his life, but the following day found him undismayed at this favourite pastime.    Every morning Peter would relate to his family the dreams he had during the night, and these were always about ships, sea voyages, ship-wrecks.   His father was often want to exclaim: "God preserve him!  He will be either a soldier or a great traveller; he will never remain at home."


During his school days, he was not so much conspicuous by his learning, but rather by his agility and physical strength of which he was without equal.   His deeds earned him the title of "Samson" by his companions.


His sister, Rosalie, who was four years his senior, retained a vivid memory of his heroic childhood. 


Sixty years afterward she wrote:  "he was a sort of Hercules, the terror of his class, high-spirited, a fighter, and always in trouble."    It must be said, in Peter's defence, that when he fought, it was usually either to uphold the honor of his side or else assist some fellow student too weak to defend himself.


 School Days and Preparatory Seminary - Departure and - Escape to America



At Beirvelde near Ghent, there was a large school which Peter's father, Joost De Smet decided to send his son with the purpose of completing his studies and experiencing the benefits of discipline, and thereafter about the year 1814, Peter left the paternal roof and returned only for a few weeks of vacation every year.   His unusual physical strength commanded for him the respect of his companions, although he was among the very youngest of the school, being around 13 years of age


After a year or two passed he entered the Preparatory Seminary of St. Nicholas where he began his Latin studies, but did not find him long there, for in 1818 he moved to the college of Alost.


Concerning his frequent changes, we find a partial answer in a letter by his brother, Francis:  "He could not remain very long anywhere."  


His entry into the student life at Alost was marked by an event that earned him the respect of the student body, when once he was accosted by a boy older and much bigger than himself, and in a flash Peter had the aggressor down, carrying him bodily to a pool of water nearby.  The bully shouted and kicked, but "Samson" held him with his muscles of steel, and did not let him go until he had immersed him two or three times in the water, to the great amusement of the spectators.


As a scholar, however, he was not so conspicuous, although his standing was creditable but not unusually so, although he appeared to distinguish himself in mathematics.


From the college at Alost he went to the Preparatory Seminary at Mechlin....more to be added blogger willing...haven't forgotten this post ...will get back to it shortly after I have sorted a couple out....maybe ...late March...this year!    sorry for the delay ....

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