Father Mas Loras
A letter written 5/19/1836 by Rev. Mathias Loras to his sister Emilie Richard in France. Father Loras traveled to the home of Jean Ladnier at Bayou La Batre. In 1837 he was named the first Bishop of Dubuque, Iowa. He was also the founder of Springhill College in Mobile.
“As an answer to the praiseworthy eagerness which you manifest in your letter of the seventh of last February, to learn something of that which the Grace of the Almighty achieves here by our ministry, I am going to describe for you my last journey, which might be called a mission if one compares a small thing to a greater. Thirty miles from Mobile, on the shores of the great Gulf of Mexico, there is a small French colony, numbering only one hundred individuals. The inhabitants dwell on the bank of a very narrow estuary which cuts through the land for five or six miles. Their livelihood is gained principally by hunting and fishing, for they cultivate only a small portion of their lands, which are very moist, and sometimes during storms are inundated by the tides. These people are unfortunately in the grasp of deep ignorance, only one person among them being able to sign his name. Nevertheless, they possess a few ideas about religion given to them in a vague way by the three Patriarchs of the settlement. The children of these men make up almost the whole of the settlement. The French they speak is purer than that of the ordinary people in Mobile. Living here in a retired corner of the world, and consequently sheltered from the corruption of the large cities, they are as a class of good morals, and their families large and their children are for the most part spiritual. and respectful. It is then to this place …[after Easter] I had the con¬solation of turning my steps. I went along, bearing with me in the cabricle a trunk in which was all that I needed for my min¬istry. I journeyed seven hours through an immense forest of pines without meeting any living things save two vultures and a large family of sangliers or wild pigs, that fled at my approach. … In the course of the long, melancholy trip, I am welcomed by a downpour of rain, accompanied by lightening and frightful thunder, all very terrible for anyone but him who is engaged in so lofty a cause. Arriving at an old abandoned farmhouse, I halt a while, preparing there a frugal lunch for myself, not however forgetting the needs of my only companion. At last towards nightfall, I reach the bridge at Bayou la Batre. In this country the Bayou is given to the sort of river of which I spoke above. This one is wide and deep and the crossing of it is attended with great danger. The bridge is made of pine branches and very simply arranged, the logs being laid side by side over larger ones that extend out. from the banks, the whole being very insecurely fastened. I crossed it, however without accident and arrived at the home of Jean Baptiste Ladnier, who has no idea that his name is going across the ocean. He is the father of eleven children, the seven older of which have a family more or less numerous. He calls me by the sweet name of Father, and extends to me his hospitality with the greatest heartiness. His first care is to inform me that eight marriages among the inhabitants were contracted be¬ fore the judges of the peace or protestant ministers. I make known to him my earnest desire that they all be blessed by the church. In spite of the great repugnance felt by the parties to those marriages, we finally succeeded in rehabilitating seven of them. What a blessing! Our next labor is to baptise children which we accomplish without great difficulty. After this, I fix a day for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries. All are invited and large numbers attend. I sing several canticles and I preach on the necessity of the confession.. Until now they had never heard of this doctrine. Notwithstanding this, twelve of them, docile to the voice of God, presented themselves before the Holy Tri¬bunal, immediately after Mass, and later others following this example, to the number of twenty-two. The remainder of the time I employ catechizing the children, many of who have prodigious memories. I teach them with the music of which should make the forests resound. The parents are enchanted to see their children so studious. The good old wife of the patriarch, while preparing her granddaughters to go to the place of instruction, says to her one day in my hearing, “Go now, child, and be attentive to what the Father is going to say, so that later you may teach it to me.” That incident moved me to tears. The eve of my departure I was forced to catechize and sing hymns in the open air until sunset. The children in particular could not bring themselves to leave me. Finally they resign themselves to but only on my making a solemn promise to again come in September, not for a passing visit, but for a stay of five or six weeks in order to prepare them fittingly for their First Communion. The following day to avoid touching farewells, I depart before daybreak, my heart filled with joy and consolation because of that which the grace of the most high had done in the short space of four days, and my mind made up to return very soon to this beloved people. [… salutation].” /s/ Mathias Loras. (S) Foundations, The Letters of Mathias Loras, D.D., Bishop of Dubuque by Robert F Klein, Loras College Press, 2004.
Cox family related Ceremonial Rights of Father Mas Loras:
11/28/1833 in Mobile:
Baptized: Jean Denis Bozage, s/o Joseph Bozage44ii and Marie Ursuline Ladner20ii.
Baptized: Louise Martha Bosarge60viii.
Diego McVoy, husband of Marie Euphrosine Bosage88i a sponsor.
Louise McVoy, d/o Marie Euphrosine Bosage88i a sponsor.
2/26/1835 in Mobile:
Baptized: Arsene Marie Lamey28iv.
Baptized: Jean, s/o Jean Bozage Jr44i and Marie Clementine Ladner20iii.
Angelique Anathalie Ladner20viii a sponsor.
Victor Francis Bosage44iv a sponsor.
Baptized: Matt Victor Bosarge60ix.
Jean Baptiste Bosage Jr44i a sponsor.
Eliza Lamy56iv a sponsor.
2/8/1836 in Mobile:
Married: Eugene Bosage60 & Rose Galixta Ladner61.
Genevieve Bosage88iii witnessed the wedding.
5/4-6/1836 in Bayou La Batre:
Baptized: Pauline, d/o Joseph Bozage44ii and Marie Ursuline Ladner20ii.
Isabel Catherine Fournier46vii a sponsor.
John Baptise Grelot24 a sponsor.
Baptized: Louise, d/o Jean Valery Ladner20vii.
Married: Jean Baptiste Ladner Jr20iv & Mary Deloris Lamey56vii.
Married: Jean Valery Ladner20vii & Mary Rooney.
Married: Alexander Antonio Lamey28 & Marguerite Constance Ladner29.
Married: Jean Baptiste Bosage Jr44i & Marie Clementine Ladner20iii.
Juan Bautista Ladner Sr20 & Maria Josefa Morin21 witnesses.
Married: Joseph Gollott48i & Coralie Ladner122iv.
Married: Joseph Cefroy Gorlott48viii & Angelique Anathalie Ladner20viii.
11/29/1836 in Bayou La Batre:
Baptized: Theodore Bosage, s/o Jean Bozage Jr44i and Marie Clementine Ladner20iii.
Theodore Noel, husband of Isabel Grelot48vi, a sponsor.
Married: John Baptise Grelot24 & Virginia Ladner25.
Married: Juan Pierre Lamie56iii & Marie Melissa Ladner20v.