Home > Parish Roots (Pre 1914) > The Heritage of a Missionary Priest

The Heritage of a Missionary Priest

1019

1666-1689


Among these early explorers, Father Claude Jean Allouez, S.J. (1622-1689), a 17th-century Jesuit missionary after which the area we know as Allouez, and its tiny bay, are named.

Fr. Allouez camped on the shore of Wisconsin Point in 1666 while ministering to the Ojibwe.1 The following year, he would establish a mission along Bluff Creek near the shore of the bay. Frustrated though with few Ojibwe willing to join the Catholic faith, he abandoned his evangelization efforts in about 1669.

While his intrepid courage won him admiration among the Ojibwe, his apostolic zeal earned him the title of “Francis Xavier of the American Missions,” having worked diligently among the Indians for thirty-two years.

Sixty-nine years old when he died, he was worn out by his heroic labors. He preached the Gospel to twenty different tribes, and is said to have baptized 10,000 neophytes with his own hand.2

Wisconsin Point (three miles in length) and Minnesota Point (seven miles) just northwest of the parish boundaries make up the largest freshwater sandbar in the world. They were formed by two rivers. The French traders who approached the west end of Lake Superior would eventually start calling the larger river on the right the St. Louis River (after the King of France) although the Ojibwe’s name for it was “Gichigami-ziibi” meaning “Great Lake River.” The stream on the left was called the Nemadji River (after the Ojibwe word “ne-madji-tic-guay-och” for “Left Hand River”). It is the Nemadji River that forms the western boundary of the parish.

 



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