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Peter Paul Lefevre

LEFEVRE, Peter Paul, R. C. bishop, born in Roulers, West Flanders, 30 April, 1804; died in Detroit, Michigan, 4 March, 1869. He finished his studies in Paris, left that city for the United States in 1828, and, going to St. Louis, Missouri, was ordained subdeacon by Bishop Rosati in 1831. In the same year he was ordained priest and stationed at New Madrid, Missouri. but after a few months was transferred to the pastorate of Salt river, consisting of the northern part of Missouri, the western part of Illinois, and southern Iowa. This was the largest and most laborious mission ever attended by a single priest. In one of his expeditions to a distant part of his charge he sustained an injury to his ankle from which he never recovered. At length his health was broken by his labors, and in 1841 he went to France to rest. While there he was nominated bishop of Zela in partibus and coadjutor bishop of Detroit, and on his return to the United States he was consecrated at Philadelphia by Archbishop Kenrick. On his arrival in Detroit he had a dispute with some of the laity as to the tenure of church property in the city, in which he was finally successful. At this time there were only two Roman Catholic churches in Detroit, and twenty-five in the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, which were included in his diocese. During his episcopate the number of churches in Detroit increased to eleven, and in that part of Michigan called the lower peninsula to 160, the upper peninsula and Wisconsin having been formed into new dioceses, he built the cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul and purchased sites for churches and other church property in places where cities where likely to be built. His foresight in this respect has resulted in a permanent revenue for the diocese of Detroit for religious and charitable purposes. The Indian missions were the object of his special care, and he established stations at obscure and distant points where the indians and half-breeds could attend religious services. To provide a supply of priests he founded the Redemptorist convent of Detroit. He was also instrumental in founding the American college of Louvain, Belgium, with the same object. While the number of priests in his diocese when he entered on his office was but eighteen, at his death it had increased to eighty-eight in the lower peninsula alone. He was a strong supporter of Roman Catholic education, and introduced into his diocese several brotherhoods and sisterhoods that they might open schools. Numerous charitable institutions are due to the energy of Bishop Lefevre, among them four orphan asylums, St. Mary's hospital and insane asylum, and the Michigan state retreat, he attended several of the provincial councils of Baltimore and Cincinnati, and the national council of 1852, and took an active part in these assemblies.

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