Lefevere, Peter Paul

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Bishop, missionary; b. Roulers, Bruges, Belgium, April 29, 1804; d. Detroit, Mich., March 4, 1869. He was the son of Charles and Albertine (Muylle) Lefevere. After study at the Lazarist seminary in Paris, he was sent to Missouri, where he completed his theology at The Barrens in Perryville. He was ordained by Bishop Gabriel Rosati of St. Louis, Mo., on Nov. 20, 1831, and then was pastor for seven years in Salt River, a parish covering eight stations in Missouri, four in Illinois, and two in Wisconsin. His work earned him appointment as administrator and coadjutor of Detroit, and he was consecrated on Nov. 21, 1841. He began his episcopate in a diocese that was disorganized and financially distressed. Lefevere recruited priests from Belgium, and in 1844 he introduced the Daughters of Charity, the first of a number of teaching sisterhoods to come to Michigan. To bring discipline to clergy and laity, he issued the first set of diocesan statutes (1843) and held the first diocesan synod (1859). Against much opposition, he secured for himself and his successors the ownership of church property. He also promoted the cause of temperance, particularly among the Indians. Beyond the diocese, he founded, with Bishop John Lancaster Spalding, the American College at Louvain, Belgium, and sent priests from Detroit to be its first four rectors. Lefevere had come to a territory that contained only 25 churches and 18 priests; he left, at his death, 160 churches and 88 priests in the lower peninsula of Michigan alone.

Bibliography: r. h. clarke, Lives of the Deceased Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States, 4 v. (New York 188789).

[e. p. atzert]