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Machebeuf, Joseph Projectus


Bishop and missionary; b. Riom, France, Aug. 11, 1812; d. Denver, Colorado, July 10, 1889. He was educated by the Brothers of the Christian Schools. After pursuing classical studies at the College of Riom, he entered the Grand Seminary of Montferrand; he was ordained on Dec. 21, 1836. He arrived in the United States on Aug. 21, 1839, with John Baptiste Lamy. After serving in the Ohio missions, where he was known as a church builder and temperance advocate, he became pastor of Lower Sandusky in 1841. In 1851 he went to Santa Fe, North Mexico to serve under Lamy, the first vicar-general of the territory and later its bishop and archbishop. Between adventurous missionary journeys, which took him into Mexico and Arizona, Machebeuf acted as pastor at Albuquerque and Santa Fe, where he helped to restore discipline to the native clergy. In 1860 he was sent by Lamy to Denver to care for the mining population of the new community. He soon established churches and became a familiar figure in every boom town in the territory. On Aug. 16, 1868, Machebeuf became the first vicar apostolic of Colorado, a jurisdiction that then included Utah and Wyoming territories.

The vicariate of Colorado was made a diocese on Aug. 16, 1887, with Denver as the see city and Machebeuf as the first bishop. In a diocese that embraced the entire state of Colorado, he established churches at Central City (1863), Trinidad (1865), Golden (1863), Walsenburg (1869), and Colorado Springs (1876). He invited the first teaching and charitable orders to Colorado and established the Catholic educational system in the state. In 1873, he founded St. Joseph's Hospital, the first permanent hospital in Denver. He was responsible for the establishment, in 1888, of Colorado's first Catholic college for men, the College of the Sacred Heart (later Regis College, Denver). The state's first Catholic charitable institutions, St. Vincent's Orphanage and the Good Shepherd's Home, were built in his time. By 1889 there were 102 churches and chapels, 16 parish schools, nine academies, one orphanage, one protective home, one college for men, and 40,000 Catholics in his diocese.

Bibliography: Archives, Archdiocese of Denver. w. j. howlett, Life of the Rt. Reverend Joseph P. Machebeuf, D. D. (Pueblo, Colo. 1908).

[w. h. jones]

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