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Deshon, George


Missionary, author; b. New London, Conn., Jan. 30, 1823; d. New York, N.Y., Dec. 30, 1903. A descendant of French Huguenots on his father's side and of a Mayflower settler on his mother's, Deshon was raised as an Episcopalian. After his sixteenth birthday, he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he was a roommate of Ulysses S. Grant. Graduating second in his class, Deshon remained at the academy to teach mathematics and ethics. Under the influence of Gen. William S. Rosecrans, he became a Catholic in 1850. He resigned his captaincy to enter the Redemptorist community and was ordained on Oct. 28, 1855. With three other Redemptorist converts, Isaac hecker, Augustine hewit, and Clarence walworth, he gave missions throughout the Eastern seaboard. In 1858, Pius IX released him and his missionary companions from their Redemptorist vows and he joined Hecker, Hewit, and Francis baker in forming the Paulist Fathers (see paulists). To the new community he brought a practical business sense and considerable organizing ability, serving as assistant superior, novice master, and superintendent of the construction of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, New York

City. In 1873, at the request of the bishops of the U.S., Deshon interceded with President Grant on behalf of the Catholic natives of the United States. On Sept. 9, 1897, he was elected third superior general of the Paulist Fathers and continued in that office until his death. In addition to writing for the Catholic World, he published Parochial Sermons (New York 1901), and the Guide for Catholic Young Women (New York 1860), which ran to 25 editions and had a larger sale than any other Catholic book of its day.

Bibliography: j. mcsorley, Father Hecker and His Friends (2d ed. St. Louis 1953). p. j. rahill, The Catholic Indian Missions and Grant's Peace Policy 18701884 (Washington 1953).

[v. f. holden]

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