Kersuzan, Francois Marie

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KERSUZAN, FRANCOIS MARIE

Bishop, Haitian patriot; b. Grandchamp, Brittany, March 25, 1848; d. Morne Lory, Haiti, July 1935. He was ordained in 1871 and served in the cathedral of Port-au-Prince until 1884. He was auxiliary bishop of Port-au-Prince and titular bishop of Hippa from 1884 to 1886. In 1886 he became bishop of Cap-Haitien. After 1925, illness made it impossible for Kersuzan to administer his diocese. In 1929 he retired, and as titular archbishop of Sergiopolis he spent the rest of his life in prayer, especially devoted to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

After the death in 1890 of Archbishop Hillion of Port-au-Prince, Kersuzan was the only bishop in Haiti. He undertook a strong campaign against superstition and voodoo. He organized a Catholic league against it and founded an official journal of the league, La Croix. He was a firm believer in education as essential to true Christian life. In 1904 he founded the secondary school, or the Collège Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours, where he spent his last years.

In 1903 Bishop Kersuzan's name was proposed to Rome by the provisional government for the archbishopric of Port-au-Prince when Archbishop Tonti was sent as apostolic nuncio to Brazil. However, he was not acceptable to Generaland PresidentNord Alexis and his wife, so the appointment was not made.

When the city of Cap-Haitien was threatened with disaster in the political upheavals of 1888, the bishop began his role as its defender. He remained the protector of citizens and officials, of prisoners and of suspects, through the wild revolutionary days after 1902 and the American occupation which began in 1915. During the occupation he was the only bishop in contact with the United States authorities. He made a trip to the U.S. in 1918, and he gave a deposition before the McCormick Commission in 1921, both times to explain the situation of the Church in Haiti. Thus he became the representative of the Haitian people. Kersuzan was a zealous apostle of the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which became widespread in Haiti. He was buried in the cathedral of Cap-Haitien.

Bibliography: j. m. jan, Collecta pour l'histoire du diocese du Cap-Haïtien 2 v. (Port-au-Prince 1958).

[j. m. jan]