Frontier Priest and Congressman: Father Gabriel Richard, S.S.
A heroic priest meets frontier Detroit: readers are assured of a colorful encounter. The priest is Father Gabriel Richard, who was born in France in the latter half of the 18th century and had experienced the many horrors of the French revolution. After his ordination as a Sulpician priest in 1791, he himself becomes a fugitive and is forced to flee to America. Instead of his intended role of training seminarians, Fr. Richard is sent to the key city of Detroit, becoming responsible for Catholics throughout the Michigan wilderness. Here he pours out his energies for the next three and a half decades. The needs that he finds among Detroit’s French, English and native peoples draw forth from his teeming mind a host of plans and hard-won achievements: schools, churches, a newspaper and many social initiatives, even federal help from Congress. Amidst fire, disease, war, and stubborn frontier settlers, Fr Richard endures humiliations while becoming in fact a friend to all. Fr Gabriel Richard’s story shows the life of a man who through his devotion to the Church did outstanding work in helping to establish the American nation.