de Neve, John
DE NEVE, JOHN
Seminary rector; b. Evergem, Belgium, July 5, 1821;d. Lierre, Belgium, April 11, 1898. He was educated at St. Nicholas College and at the major seminary in Ghent, Belgium. After his ordination on March 20, 1847, he was assistant pastor at Renaix and Waerschoot, Belgium, until he left for Detroit, Mich., in October 1856. In 1857 he was appointed the first resident pastor at Niles, Mich., where he remained until Bp. Peter Paul Lefevere chose him in 1859 to succeed Rev. Peter Kindekens as rector of the American College of Louvain, Belgium. During the first period of his rectorship, he gained benefactors and patrons for the college, especially among the American bishops; purchased or rehabilitated most of its property; increased the number of students; and sent 132 missionaries to America. Incapacitated by mental illness in 1871, he was relieved of his duties and cared for by the Alexian Brothers at Diest, Belgium, until his recovery in 1878. Then, convinced that the college had declined during his absence, and eager to be reinstated, De Neve traveled to the U.S. in 1880 to obtain the consent of the bishop patrons of the seminary. The decision was finally left to the Belgian bishops, and De Neve was rector again from 1881 to 1891. During these years he not only saved the seminary from closing, but stabilized it economically and administratively for the future. After resigning his office in 1891, he lived in retirement at the priests' home in Lierre.
Bibliography: j. d. sauter, The American College of Louvain, 1857–1898 (Louvain 1959), bibliog. 282–284. g. w. parÉ, The Catholic Church in Detroit, 1701–1888 (Detroit 1951).
[j. d. sauter]