By ZOE CANNON
GRATITUDE FOR THE GIFT OF FAITH
“…as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).
Our goal as baptized Christians is to achieve the glory of heaven through the salvation of our soul! We obtain grace and strength for the journey in many ways. Pilgrimages are planned all over the world seeking holy places for inspiration and reflection. But we do not need to travel far to find everything we need to live a life in Christ! God is with us in every moment and in every place!
Indiana is blessed with a rich history in the Catholic Church. Pope Paul VI elevated Vincennes’ St. Francis Xavier Parish church, the oldest church in Indiana, to Minor Basilica in 1970. The first four bishops of Vincennes are buried in the crypt of this historic church, and sharing their stories is important.
In St. Louis, Missouri, on Oct. 28, 1834, on the Feast of the apostles Simon and Jude, Bishop Joseph Rosati, the first bishop of the Diocese of St. Louis, consecrated the first bishop for the 13th diocese of the United States, the Diocese of Vincennes. Bishop Simon Bruté placed his cathedral under the patronage of St. Francis Xavier, patron of missionaries, and his diocese under the patronage of the Blessed Mother.
The late Most Rev. Daniel M. Buechlein, O.S.B., of Indianapolis, wrote an account of this history in a pamphlet titled, “Reflections on the Life and Times of Simon Guillaume Gabriel Bruté de Remur.” In an address Sept. 12, 2005, during the opening session of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization for the first bishop of Indiana, Archbishop Buechlein said, “I encourage all of us to promote public knowledge about our holy first bishop and to spread the word about his Cause of Beatification and Canonization. Bishop Bruté is a worthy intercessor for healing and our own holiness. Learning about his life also tells us and our children much about the Church in Indiana.”
The French Revolution certainly influenced the life of Simon Bruté. He studied at the College of Medicine in Paris. He found the professors of science and philosophy critical of religion, particularly with misconceptions about the Catholic faith. Bruté formed a religious solidarity with a priest moderator to affirm his faith with like-minded students. The first consul of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, noticed this controversy at the medical school, and instructed the professors to stick to their curriculum and avoid criticism of religion. Recognized for his outstanding leadership, Napoleon offered Bruté a position on the faculty of the college, which he refused. The antireligious environments at the college ultimately lead Dr. Bruté to pursue studies for the priesthood.
Bruté was a significant theologian in guiding the Church in the United States. In 1810, he journeyed from France, as a Sulpician priest, to Emmitsburg, Maryland, and Indiana, where his life intersected with other pioneer missionaries in areas where a priest had been unavailable for years. It was difficult for Father Bruté to learn English, but his accomplishments in growing the faith through seminary teaching and pastoral care in administering the sacraments left quite a legacy. The Bishop Bruté Minor College Seminary in Indianapolis continues to share his mission in the formation of young men discerning the priesthood.
History repeats itself, and the importance of sharing the stories of the past cannot be understated. I encourage the faithful to help promote the Cause for the Canonization of this saintly man. A pilgrimage to Vincennes is a wonderful way to experience the life of Simon Bruté.
Bruté passed away at the age of 60 on June 26, 1839. The Offices of Vocations from the Diocese of Evansville and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis each traveled to Vincennes on this anniversary with groups of young men to celebrate Mass and visit the Bruté Library. I was blessed to join them in the celebration of holy Mass, and the sound of hearing 100 young men praising God gives me great hope for the Church. Pray that we may reach our goal of strong faith by following the example of Bishop Bruté in the salvation of souls! Amen!