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Francis Jannsens

Francis Janssens - A Stan Klos Biography

JANSSENS, Francis, R. C. bishop, born in Tilbury, North Brabant, Holland, 17 October, 1847; died in New Orleans, Louisana, 9 June 1897. He studied theology in the episcopal seminary of Bois-le-Duc, and afterward entered the American College of the University of Louvain, with a view to becoming a missionary in the United States.

 

He was ordained priest, 21 December, 1867, sailed for this country in September, 1868, and was assigned to missionary duty in Richmond, Virginia He was first assistant at the cathedral, and in 1870 was appointed rector, secretary, and chancellor of the diocese, at the same time taking charge of several missions. In 1877 he became vicar-general.

 

On the translation of Bishop Gibbons to Baltimore as coadjutor-archbishop, Father Jannsens was appointed administrator of the diocese of Richmond. He filled the same office under Bishop Keane that he had occupied under his predecessor. After the translation of Bishop Elder from the diocese of Natchez to the co-adjutorship of Cincinnati, Father Jannsens was nominated for the vacant see, and he was con-secrated by Archbishop Gibbons in the cathedral of Richmond, 1 May, 1881.

 

Before assuming the duties of his office he visited Rome. Bishop Jannsens was supreme spiritual director of the Catholic knights of the United States, a benevolent organization of large membership. In 1884 there were 14,000 Roman Catholics under his jurisdiction, with fifty-three churches and thirty priests.

On 7 August 1888 he was nominated the fifth Archbishop of New Orleans, Louisana. Not the least of the difficulties that awaited him there was the heavy indebtedness resting upon the see and the constant drain thus made which had exhausted the treasury. There was no seminary and the rapid growth of the population augmented the demand for priests.

He at once called a meeting of the clergy and prominent citizens, and plans were formulated for the gradual liquidation of the debt of the diocese, which was found to be $324,759. Before his death he had reduced it to about $130,000. Notwithstanding this burden, the diocese, through the zeal of Archbishop Janssens, entered upon a period of unusual activity.

One of his first acts, March, 1890, was a to fund a little seminary, which was opened at Pounchatoula, La., 3 September, 1891, and placed under the direction of the Benedictine Fathers. He went to Europe in 1889 to secure priests for the diocese and to arrange for the sale of bonds for the liquidation of the debt.

In August, 1892, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, founded in Italy by Mother Cabrini for work among Italians immigrants, arrived in New Orleans and opened a large mission, a free school, and an asylum for Italian orphans, and began also mission work among the Italian gardeners on the outskirts of the city and in Kenner, La.

The same year a terrific cyclone and storm swept the Louisiana Gulf Coast, and laid low the lands among the Caminada Cheniere where there was a settlement of Italian and Spanish and Malay fishermen. Out of a population of 1500 over 800 were swept away. Archbishop Janssens in a small boat went among the lonely and desolate island settlements comforting the people and helping them to rebuild their broken homes.

In 1893, the centenary of the diocese was celebrated with splendor at the St. Louis Cathedral; Cardinal Gibbons and many of the hierarchy were present. Archbishop Janssens was instrumental, at this time, in establishing the Louisiana Leper's Home at Indian Camp, and it was through his offices that the Sisters of Charity at Emmitsburg took charge of the home. He was deeply interested in the work of the Coloured Sisters of the Holy Family, now domiciled in the ancient Quadroon Ball Room and Theatre of antebellum days, which had been turned into a convent and boarding-school.

Through the generosity of an African-American philanthropist, Thomy Lafon, Archbishop Janssens was enabled to provide a large and more comfortable home for the aged African-American poor, a new asylum for the boys, and through the legacy of $20,000 left for this purpose by Mr. Lafon, who died in 1883, a special home, under the care of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, for girls. The St. John Berchman's Chapel, a memorial to Thomy Lafon, was erected in the Convent of the Holy Family which he had so befriended.

At this time Archbishop Janssens estimated the number of Catholics in the diocese at 341,613; the value of church property at $3,861,075; the number of baptisms a year 15,000 and the number of deaths, 5000.

Archbishop Janssens created the first parish for African-Americans, St. Katharine’s, in 1895. He preached the English sermon for the funeral of Bishop Claud Neraz (1828-1894) at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio Texas, and consecrated John Anthony Forest (1838-1911) as coadjutor bishop of San Antonio in 1895. Archbishop Janssens made a gift of historical documents to the archives of Notre Dame University in 1890.

 

 

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 StanKlos.comTM

JANNSENS, Francis, R. C. bishop, born in Tilbury, North Brabant, Holland, 17 October, 1847. He studied theology in the Episcopal seminary of Bois-le-Duc, and afterward entered the American college of the University of Louwfin, with a view to becoming a missionary in the United States. He was ordained priest, 21 December, 1867, sailed for this country in September, 1868, and was assigned to missionary duty in Richmond, Virginia He was first assistant at the cathedral, and in 1870 was appointed rector, secretary, and chancellor of the diocese, at the same time taking charge of several missions. In 1877 he became vicar-general. On the translation of Bishop Gibbons to Baltimore as coadjutor-arch-bishop, Father Jannsens was appointed administrator of the diocese of Richmond. He filled the same office under Bishop Keane that he had occupied under his predecessor. After the translation of Bishop Elder from the diocese of Natchez to the co-adjutorship of Cincinnati, Father Jannsens was nominated for the vacant see, and he was con-serrated by Archbishop Gibbons in the cathedral of Richmond, 1 May, 1881. Before assuming the duties of his office he visited Rome. Bishop Jannsens is supreme spiritual director of the Catholic knights of the United States, a benevolent organization of large membership. In 1884 there were 14,000 Roman Catholics under his jurisdiction, with fifty-three churches and thirty priests.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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