Miège, John Baptist
MIÈGE, JOHN BAPTIST
Bishop; b. La Forêt, Chevron, Savoy, Sept. 18, 1815;d. Woodstock, Md., July 21, 1884. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1836, was ordained in Rome, Sept. 12, 1847, and came to the U.S. in 1848. He was assigned to the vice province of Missouri and served in the novitiate at Florissant, in parishes at St. Charles and Portage des Sioux, and at St. Louis University. Acting on the petition of the Seventh Provincial Council of Baltimore, Pius IX erected a vicariate apostolic of Indian Territory, embracing the area east of the Rocky Mountains that was not included in Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, or Minnesota. On July 23, 1850, the pope appointed Miège titular bishop of Messene and vicar apostolic of this area of 500,000 square miles and scarcely a thousand Catholics. After his consecration in St. Louis, Mo., March 25, 1851, Miège took up residence among the Pottawatomi at St. Mary's Mission. In 1857, to form a more serviceable area, he asked Rome to create the Vicariate of Nebraska; in 1860 the western end of Kansas Territory was attached to the Diocese of Santa Fe, N.M.
Miège's missionary activities were altered by the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), which brought new settlers to Kansas amid much turmoil. To serve this incoming white population, he transferred his residence to Leavenworth, Kans., in 1855. By the 1860s he had established three religious communities—Benedictine fathers and sisters, Carmelite fathers, and Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth; built an academy, a large rectory to care for missionaries, a hospital, and an orphanage; founded a seminary; and completed the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Miège was given a coadjutor, Louis Mary Fink, OSB, in 1870 and, after he collected funds in South America (1871–74) to reduce the cathedral debt, he asked to resign. Pius IX granted his request Nov. 18, 1874. Miège then doffed all episcopal insignia and became the spiritual director of the Jesuits at Woodstock College, Md. (1875–77). In 1877 he was named the first president of Detroit College, later the University of Detroit, Mich. In 1880 he returned to his former post at Woodstock, where he spent his remaining years.
Bibliography: p. beckman, The Catholic Church on the Kansas Frontier (Washington 1943). g. j. garraghan Jesuits of the Middle United States.
[m. p. fitzgerald]