Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Apostle of the Acadians, b. at St. Philippe, P. Q., 1831; d. at St. Joseph, N. B., 1895. The son of sturdy French-Canadian peasants, he attended the village school and academy until he was seventeen, became a primary teacher for several half-yearly terms, prosecuted his study of Latin at St. Cyprien, and in 1852 entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross, at St. Laurent, near Montreal. Ordained priest in 1855, he served successively as curate at St. Eustache and St. Rose, professor at St. Laurent College, and missionary in the Diocese of St. Hyacinth, this last office coming to him as the natural result of his quite exceptional ability as a pulpit orator. His real life-work, however, began only in 1864, when, in accordance with an agreement between his religious superiors and Bishop Sweeney of St. John, he took charge of the principal Acadian parish, Memramcook, N. B., and forthwith began the foundation of St. Joseph's College. Half a century ago, the French Acadians of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island were admittedly an unimportant factor in the social life and polity of those provinces. From the time of the great expulsion in 1755, they had been constructively deprived of all means of instruction, in public, professional, or even commercial life; in consequence, an Acadian name rarely if ever became prominent. Unquestionably looked down upon by their English and non-Catholic neighbours as a race naturally inferior to Anglo-Saxons and Celts, they apparently acquiesced in the fate that doomed them to be mere hewers of wood and drawers of water. With the advent among them of Father Lefebvre and the establishment of St. Joseph's College, there dawned a new era, and in the brief space of three decades there was wrought a veritable transformation.

Thanks mainly to his initiative, his personal service, and the enthusiasm with which he imbued his fellow-workers in the college and the leaders of the people themselves, Father Lefebvre lived to see the practical servitude and inferiority in which he found the Acadians replaced by genuine equality and freedom. In ever-increasing numbers his students took prominent places in the business, educational, or professional world, gave themselves to the altar or pleaded at the bar, entered the provincial legislative assemblies and the federal parliament, and graced the bench of the Supreme Court. From 1864 to 1875 the Apostle of the Acadians encountered trials, reverses, and difficulties which nothing but indomitable energy, coupled with unwavering confidence in God, could have enabled him to survive. During these years, in addition to his duties as college president and pastor of Memramcook, he preached missions throughout Acadia, served several terms as Provincial of his Congregation, founded the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, and was honoured with the degree of Doctor of Divinity by Laval University and the title of Apostolic Missionary by Pius IX. His death occurred in January, 1895; and within two years St. Joseph's Alumni erected at Memramcook in his honour a handsome stone edifice, the Lefebvre Memorial Hall. After God, says his Acadian biographer, "he loved especially the Congregation of the Holy Cross and the Acadian people. He is perhaps the purest glory of the former; he is certainly the greatest benefactor of the latter."


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Philippians 1:1-11
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! I give thanks to Yahweh with all my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 14:1-6
1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 31st, 2014 Image

St. Wolfgang
October 31: Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter