Bazin, John Stephen

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Third bishop of Vincennes, Ind.; b. Duerne, France Oct. 15, 1796; d. Vincennes, April 23, 1848. He was educated in Lyons, France, and ordained there on July 22, 1822. Eight years later Bazin, then a seminary professor, volunteered for the American missions in the diocese of Bp. Michael Portier of Mobile, Ala. He left France on Oct. 8, 1830, and arrived two months later in Mobile, where he was assigned to the staff of Spring Hill College, a diocesan college-seminary founded by Portier in May of 1830. During the 17 years Bazin was associated with the college, he served first as professor of philosophy and theology, as well as procurator and superior of the seminary, and then as president (183236, 1839, 184244, 1846). He is credited with establishing the college on a permanent basis in 1847, when he negotiated the transfer of the properties and administration of the institution to the Jesuits.

As vicar-general of the diocese and pastor of the cathedral (183647), Bazin promoted pioneer building programs and furthered the organizational work involved in parochial and institutional expansion. In his pastoral apostolate, he gained recognition as a preacher and was known for his charity toward the sick and the orphans. He built a new cathedral, using his own personal wealth in an effort to meet some of the construction costs. On April 3, 1847, he was appointed third bishop of Vincennes and was consecrated there on Oct. 24, 1847, in the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier, the first bishop to be consecrated in the see city. During his six-month episcopacy, Bazin restored peace and order in the diocese, where relations between his predecessor, Celestine de la Hailandière, and many of the clergy and religious communities had deteriorated. The new bishop initiated settlement of jurisdictional and property ownership issues where such lay at the root of the difficulties with religious communities. He tried to provide a stronger educational institution for the training of diocesan seminarians by merging the financially unsound St. Gabriel College with St. Charles diocesan seminary, assuming the financial debts of the college himself. Bazin also laid plans for the establishment of a diocesan orphanage. His Lenten pastoral letter (1848) exhorted the laity to be sensitive to the vocational needs of the diocese and outlined for them and for the clergy practical plans for the encouragement of vocations to the priesthood. He contracted pneumonia and died on Easter Sunday.

Bibliography: m. b. brown, History of the Sisters of Providence of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods, v. 1 (New York 1949). m. kenny, Catholic Culture in Alabama: Centenary Story of Spring Hill College (New York 1931). m. c. schroeder, The Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes, 18471877 (Catholic University of America, Studies in American Church History 35; Washington 1946).

[m. c. schroeder]